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Solar Energy’s Land-Use Impact

Written by on | Modified 4 Nov, 2015 | Views 627

Study by the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University, shows the ecological footprint of solar power development.


Study by the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University shows the ecological footprint of solar power development.

Solar power development is big business in sunny California, fueled by low solar panel prices and the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change. Some biologists, however, are growing concerned that the placement of new large-scale solar power plants in the Mojave Desert may harm the biological diversity found there.

“Solar takes out a lot of territory, right? It obliterates everything,” University of California-Santa Cruz ecologist Barry Sinervo, who is unaffiliated with the study, said. “There is as much plant biodiversity in the Mojave as there is in a redwood forest. The key part of this is, do we want to tile out the last largest wilderness area that we have, which is the Western desert?”

Almost 30% of all installations were in croplands and pastures. We should locate installations in areas already affected by humans, such as on land fills, over parking lots, and on rooftops and nearest to where the energy is being consumed.”

Research emphasizes that there are sometimes significant tradeoffs between climate and energy policy and the needs of the natural environment.

References

Carnegie Science


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