Masdar provides funding to keep Swainson’s hawks in Antelope Valley

26 SEP 2023
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Solar power is a wonderful resource as we transition to a world fuelled by clean energy but it requires responsible development to protect indigenous species that have lived and prospered undisturbed in an area for centuries.

One such inhabitant is Swainson’s hawk, which lives and nests in southern Canada, the western United States and northern Mexico. One of its places of residence is the California Desert, which is also the site of the Big Beau Solar plant.

The plant, which is co-owned by Masdar and EDF Renewables and powers 64,000 homes, offsetting 315,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, is spread over 2,290 acres in the Antelope Valley.

The potential effects of further development in the Antelope Valley have not gone unnoticed by the two energy companies.

Rainey Barton, Field Biologist at Bloom Biological, reveals that Masdar has provided funding to initiate the development of a conservation strategy for the population of Swainson’s hawks in the valley.

She admits:

It’s a work in progress and it’s challenging. Both Swainson’s hawks and solar development can co-exist in the Antelope Valley, but only with informed decisions regarding siting of future developments.

With Masdar’s assistance, Bloom Biological has been able to collect information that will help to shape habitat conservation in the future for Swainson’s hawk – sometimes known as the grasshopper hawk or locust hawk because of its favourite foodstuffs.

Commenting on the work to date, Trevor Walker, Director, Asset Management at Masdar Americas, says:

It is important to see how the Swainson’s hawk has been considered and respected.

Masdar’s solar and wind energy projects in the US have a capacity of more than 1.6GW and are spread across California, Texas and New Mexico. They displace more than 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 every year and provide clean energy to 600,000 homes.

Speaking of the partnership with Masdar, Mark Johnson, Executive Vice President, Asset Optimization at EDF, says:

We want to be able to work together for the next 40 years. We enjoy working together, lots of issues to be able to resolve, but with partners like Masdar, I know that we can rise to the challenge.

He adds:

We’re all here to leave a cleaner planet for our kids and their kids. We want to preserve the planet, including all the species that actually live on the planet.

Commenting on the burgeoning relationship between Bloom Biological and Masdar, Barton says it is “pivotal for continued progress. We have a responsibility in a developed world to provide for the hawks, to do what we can to ensure their persistence in our landscapes.”