Solar at Antioch University New England

Kate is a graduate student at Antioch University New England studying Environmental Education.

This guest blog post is written by Kate Witte, a graduate student at Antioch University New England studying Environmental Education. She is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Glover’s Ledge and is passionate about connecting people to nature.

This fall, the Antioch University Board of Governors approved the installation of a 141kW ground-mounted solar array at Glover’s Ledge in Langdon, New Hampshire. Glover’s Ledge is an Antioch University New England stewarded property used for outdoor recreation, student and faculty research, and biodiversity conservation. Our decision to install solar was based on providing research opportunities for students and faculty involved in sustainable development, as well as furthering our commitment to environmental sustainability.

Photo Credit: Antioch University New England

At Glover’s Ledge, trees on an acre of land were cleared for the construction of the array, and of that acre, less than half was stumped for the installation of the solar racking and panels. Trees on the perimeter of the area larger than 15 inches in diameter were removed to maximize sunlight penetration. Although the site was an old gravel pit, it certainly seems counterintuitive for a property focused on ecological conservation, education, and research to convert a portion of the land that could grow forest to a non-forest use. However, the solar array is furthering our commitment to education and conservation. Data from the array will be displayed on a live monitoring feed. This provides an opportunity for our students in sustainable development programs to work with raw solar data and expand their knowledge of alternative energy in real time.

Glover’s Ledge array after a snowstorm

As well as furthering student learning, the array is also helping us with our commitment to ecological conservation by providing an opportunity for habitat restoration. Land within the cleared area, including the space between the rows of panels, will be seeded and planted as a pollinator meadow and open field. These ecosystems are beneficial for bees, butterflies, bats, and other pollinators. The cleared area on the edge of the forest will be maintained as early successional shrub-scrub habitat. The tall grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs that will grow will benefit numerous wildlife species particularly small mammals and unique songbirds.

Finally, this solar array is an important step in our commitment to mitigating the climate crisis. Solar energy is a virtually unlimited clean energy source that does not require the extraction of fossil fuels. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels are responsible for much of the climate change we are experiencing globally. Solar farms and rooftop solar are in the top 10 climate solutions according to Project Drawdown, the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. This solar array is an important climate mitigation tool and educational tool, and we are so excited to be generating clean energy at Glover’s Ledge!