Limits...
An approach to enhance the conservation-compatibility of solar energy development.

Cameron DR, Cohen BS, Morrison SA - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: Utility-scale renewable energy development (>1 MW capacity) is a key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but development of those facilities also can have adverse effects on biodiversity.We found over 740,000 ha below the highest slope angle (<5%)--an area that can meet California's renewable energy goal seven times over.Using the approach presented here, planners could reduce development impacts on areas of higher conservation value, and so reduce trade-offs between converting to a green energy economy and conserving biodiversity.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The Nature Conservancy, San Francisco, California, United States of America. dcameron@tnc.org

ABSTRACT
The rapid pace of climate change poses a major threat to biodiversity. Utility-scale renewable energy development (>1 MW capacity) is a key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but development of those facilities also can have adverse effects on biodiversity. Here, we examine the synergy between renewable energy generation goals and those for biodiversity conservation in the 13 M ha Mojave Desert of the southwestern USA. We integrated spatial data on biodiversity conservation value, solar energy potential, and land surface slope angle (a key determinant of development feasibility) and found there to be sufficient area to meet renewable energy goals without developing on lands of relatively high conservation value. Indeed, we found nearly 200,000 ha of lower conservation value land below the most restrictive slope angle (<1%); that area could meet the state of California's current 33% renewable energy goal 1.8 times over. We found over 740,000 ha below the highest slope angle (<5%)--an area that can meet California's renewable energy goal seven times over. Our analysis also suggests that the supply of high quality habitat on private land may be insufficient to mitigate impacts from future solar projects, so enhancing public land management may need to be considered among the options to offset such impacts. Using the approach presented here, planners could reduce development impacts on areas of higher conservation value, and so reduce trade-offs between converting to a green energy economy and conserving biodiversity.

Show MeSH
Parcel size class distribution within private lands of California that are of lower conservation value.These are only within areas that are potentially suitable for solar development below 5% slope. The presence of high rates of parcelization on private land acts as a disincentive to site large solar projects in more degraded areas.
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pone-0038437-g005: Parcel size class distribution within private lands of California that are of lower conservation value.These are only within areas that are potentially suitable for solar development below 5% slope. The presence of high rates of parcelization on private land acts as a disincentive to site large solar projects in more degraded areas.

Mentions: Privately-owned parcels provide considerably more opportunity to develop on land with lower conservation value than do public lands (Figure 4, Table 1). The combined area of lower conservation value private land is 3.5 times (<1% slope) to 2.5 times (<5% slope) the area of those categories on suitable BLM land across the ecoregion. The higher degradation on private land is primarily due to agricultural land use and low density development in parts of the western Mojave in California and in the Arizona portion of the ecoregion. However, unlike BLM-managed lands, private lands are often parcelized and divided into many ownerships. In California, private lands that meet suitability criteria, are less than 5% slope and are in the lower conservation value categories, the average parcel size is 2.4 ha, with a median of 1 ha (Figure 5).


An approach to enhance the conservation-compatibility of solar energy development.

Cameron DR, Cohen BS, Morrison SA - PLoS ONE (2012)

Parcel size class distribution within private lands of California that are of lower conservation value.These are only within areas that are potentially suitable for solar development below 5% slope. The presence of high rates of parcelization on private land acts as a disincentive to site large solar projects in more degraded areas.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3369905&req=5

pone-0038437-g005: Parcel size class distribution within private lands of California that are of lower conservation value.These are only within areas that are potentially suitable for solar development below 5% slope. The presence of high rates of parcelization on private land acts as a disincentive to site large solar projects in more degraded areas.
Mentions: Privately-owned parcels provide considerably more opportunity to develop on land with lower conservation value than do public lands (Figure 4, Table 1). The combined area of lower conservation value private land is 3.5 times (<1% slope) to 2.5 times (<5% slope) the area of those categories on suitable BLM land across the ecoregion. The higher degradation on private land is primarily due to agricultural land use and low density development in parts of the western Mojave in California and in the Arizona portion of the ecoregion. However, unlike BLM-managed lands, private lands are often parcelized and divided into many ownerships. In California, private lands that meet suitability criteria, are less than 5% slope and are in the lower conservation value categories, the average parcel size is 2.4 ha, with a median of 1 ha (Figure 5).

Bottom Line: Utility-scale renewable energy development (>1 MW capacity) is a key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but development of those facilities also can have adverse effects on biodiversity.We found over 740,000 ha below the highest slope angle (<5%)--an area that can meet California's renewable energy goal seven times over.Using the approach presented here, planners could reduce development impacts on areas of higher conservation value, and so reduce trade-offs between converting to a green energy economy and conserving biodiversity.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The Nature Conservancy, San Francisco, California, United States of America. dcameron@tnc.org

ABSTRACT
The rapid pace of climate change poses a major threat to biodiversity. Utility-scale renewable energy development (>1 MW capacity) is a key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but development of those facilities also can have adverse effects on biodiversity. Here, we examine the synergy between renewable energy generation goals and those for biodiversity conservation in the 13 M ha Mojave Desert of the southwestern USA. We integrated spatial data on biodiversity conservation value, solar energy potential, and land surface slope angle (a key determinant of development feasibility) and found there to be sufficient area to meet renewable energy goals without developing on lands of relatively high conservation value. Indeed, we found nearly 200,000 ha of lower conservation value land below the most restrictive slope angle (<1%); that area could meet the state of California's current 33% renewable energy goal 1.8 times over. We found over 740,000 ha below the highest slope angle (<5%)--an area that can meet California's renewable energy goal seven times over. Our analysis also suggests that the supply of high quality habitat on private land may be insufficient to mitigate impacts from future solar projects, so enhancing public land management may need to be considered among the options to offset such impacts. Using the approach presented here, planners could reduce development impacts on areas of higher conservation value, and so reduce trade-offs between converting to a green energy economy and conserving biodiversity.

Show MeSH