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January 30, 2020

Your alternative energy project harnesses the power of nature to generate electricity, provide for communities, and keep the earth as healthy as possible. It’s efficient, clean, and only growing more so each and every day.

It seems almost poetic, then, that some of the greatest risks to such a site are caused by the nature we try to harness. The effect of the elements on the earth—and your energy site—can be dramatic, especially when it comes to erosion.

From damaging equipment to creating safety hazards for your site managers and employees, erosion is not something to take lightly. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the five best ways to minimize erosion damage on your wind or solar project.

hydroseeding at a solar farm - WWS provides hydroseeding services to prevent erosion1. VEGETATION

This option is not only easy, it also compliments an alternative energy site by utilizing nature for yet another purpose. Plants establish extensive root systems that stabilize soil and ultimately help reduce erosion.

It is important to do your research before choosing what variety of vegetation you will use. Plants with stiff trunks and branches can damage your structures if placed too close, vines can interfere with energy production, and certain root systems can cause instability in the foundations of your equipment.

That being said, choose wisely and stay on top of vegetation maintenance and you will be rewarded with a substantial and natural reduction in erosion.

2. DRAINAGE & SPILLWAYS

If your wind or solar project is built on or contains slopes, Arizona crossings and crowned roads can be an absolute godsend. These strategically placed barriers are designed to break up the natural gradient of a slope, reducing the speed and redirecting the route of runoff.

This ability to assert some control over the path of running water allows for flexibility when selecting and building a site. While the ideal location to harness the sun’s rays or the wind’s gusts may not be the most conducive to avoiding erosion, Arizona crossings and crowned roads can be engineered to convert that lessthan-perfect spot into one that is not only functioning, but able to endure for years on end.

3. GEOTEXTILESgeotextiles at a solar farm help prevent erosion

The applications of geotextiles are many, making them useful in just about any situation. When used in conjunction with soil, geotextiles can stabilize terrain to reduce runoff or contribute to the growth of vegetation. They can also be designed to reinforce loose earth or embankments, allowing them to function as a barrier.

Geotextiles are designed and built to the specifications of the need they are to meet, meaning that they can be arranged in a manner that allows them to act as drainage systems, directing runoff away from your valuable equipment and protecting your investment. Since they utilize natural materials, they are easy to create and install, only adding to their versatility.

4. MULCH

Layering mulch over topsoil can dampen the impact of rain and slow the runoff caused by snow accumulation, allowing the soil to absorb the water at a steadier pace. This is a simple and cost-effective technique to minimize soil erosion, but it does require a bit more maintenance than some other methods.

Mulch also has its limits. Heavy rainfall can wash away mulch, no matter how well it is planned and placed. It is mostly utilized on flat ground, not slopes. That being said, it is an affordable way to reduce erosion, especially when coupled with vegetation. As an added bonus, it also looks better than some other options.

roads and pathways at solar and wind farms help with erosion5. ROADS & PATHS

Compacted earth has a much harder time absorbing liquid than loose soil does. Denser soil also diminishes the amount of plant life that can take root, farther compounding erosion problems. The concern about soil compaction is only compounded when heavy machinery is needed on site.

For these reasons, it is vital to maintain roads and paths to limit how compacted they become. It is also important to only used cleared roads and paths if possible. Utilizing gravel surfaces and establishing proper drainage alongside frequently trafficked paths can also help minimize the impact of the travel necessary at an energy site.

WHEN IN DOUBT, CONSULT AN EXPERT

There are many options when it comes to minimizing erosion damage to your wind or solar project. It can be overwhelming, especially when multiple methods need to be applied. However, in order to best mitigate risk and potential damages to your property and even your employees, it is an absolute must to utilize the correct techniques.

Consulting an expert who is familiar with erosion control, the industry, and has worked in renewable energy for more than a decade can be key in making the right decisions for your particular needs.

World Wind and Solar staffing capabilities, covering all project life cycle phases including construction, commissioning, and in-service tasks, allow us to be your one-stop-shop ready and able to address a comprehensive array of challenges. Give us a call today! 661-822-4877

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