TNC Power of Place National
The effort to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions will drive significant changes to the U.S. energy system, including unprecedented growth in clean electricity generation. This rapid expansion, if not thoughtfully planned, will negatively impact natural habitats, wildlife, agricultural lands, and local communities. The Nature Conservancy's Power of Place (PoP) National study provides innovative solutions to these potential challenges, demonstrating that strategic planning and technology choices can help minimize environmental and social impacts of renewable energy expansion.
The PoP National study follows work done in PoP West where the question was examined as to whether the Western U.S. could reach net-zero emissions while disallowing renewable development on the most environmentally sensitive lands.
In PoP National we pioneer new methods where instead of land exclusions, candidate renewable projects are given a social and environmental score that differentiates better and worse places to site resources from a societal perspective. We then test scenarios that limit total social and environmental impact to different degrees relative to siting as usual. This approach led to most negative impacts on natural and working lands being avoided and produced new insights about land-saving technologies for deployment.
The Power of Place National study provides valuable strategies to balance our ambitious climate goals with the protection of our ecosystems and social structures. By being mindful of the specific needs and resources of each region, we can make strides towards a net-zero carbon economy without compromising the natural world and communities that we are striving to protect.
A link to the executive summary can be found here