July 16, 2019
Dr. Ryan J. Harrigan
Center for Tropical Research
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
University of California, Los Angeles
La Kretz Hall Suite 300
619 Charles E. Young Drive East
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496
Dear Dr. Harrigan:
We are pleased to provide this letter of support for your grant proposal
entitled: “Building a Framework to Genetically Characterize ‘feather
spots’ and Understand Demographic Impacts of Solar Energy Sites on
Migratory Bird Populations” to be submitted to the U.S. Department of
Energy. Your proposed innovative research using modern genomic
techniques and network modeling will greatly enhance informed decisions
for solar energy development and operations.
As you are aware, the Avian Solar Working Group (ASWG) is comprised
of representatives of environmental organizations and the utility-scale PV
industry, with advice from academics, convened to advance independent
and coordinated scientific research to better understand how birds interact
with solar facilities. The proposed research addresses several important
research recommendations laid out in our 2017 Avian Solar Working
Group Research Questions Framework (Framework). These include:
1) Characterizing “feather spots” recovered at solar facilities to identify
the species and individuals represented by each biological sample, and;
2) Integrating these and other data in a method that combines genetic
identification with demographic data to evaluate risks of solar energy sites
to avian populations.
The ASWG strives to understand the potential impacts to migratory birds
by large scale solar in order to ensure solar projects are both commercially
viable and environmentally friendly. We understand the proposed research
will enhance the understanding of how feather spots data should be used
and interpreted, which could lead to a better understanding of possible
impacts on species and populations. Such data has the potential to reduce
overall costs in monitoring large scale solar facilities. In addition,
identification of biological material recovered from solar facilities will
provide a more complete mortality report by reducing the number of
“unknown” samples, which could aid in reducing the additional monitoring requested by permitting agencies. The ASWG also enthusiastically supports the development of a fee-for-use service at UCLA capable of archiving and processing genetic samples at low costs.
Specifically, the members of the ASWG agree to support the proposed research by contributing to one or more of the following:
1) Collecting and making available biological material from “feather spots” recovered from the solar facilities represented by the group;
2) Collaborating in general with the research team to further this research initiative, such as participation in technical advisory committees or reviewing research findings and milestones;
3) Providing financial support (in an amount to be determined before the project period begins) to assist in the collection, processing, and preservation of samples collected at solar energy facilities.
In summary, we fully support the proposed research proposal by UCLA for the development of an efficient, cost-effective way to characterize “feather spots” recovered at solar facilities, and if applicable, to use the collected information to better understand the potential impacts that utility scale solar may have
on migratory bird populations. We believe this work will contribute substantially to the mission of the ASWG, as well as achieve the goals set forth by the Department of Energy in its call for proposals.
Avian Solar Work Group
Avian Solar Work Group
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