Title: Land use in renewable energy planning
Abstract: Ambitious low-carbon transitions are underway in many jurisdictions, requiring the large-scale expansion of renewable energy. Simultaneously, growing energy demand in emerging economies is being met with rapid energy development, with the declining costs of wind and solar technologies making them among the most competitive options. These recent developments suggest the potential for “energy sprawl” to be another significant driver of habitat and biodiversity loss globally. With this rapid growth of renewable energy, there is a pressing need to develop strategies for quantifying land use related impacts related to renewable energy development and integrating these impacts in renewable energy planning processes. In this talk, I will present results from studies that address this gap in three study regions. These studies examine how to simultaneously meet conservation and climate objectives in California; quantify the benefits and trade-offs of multi-criteria wind and solar siting in Africa; and estimate forest-loss due to large-scale hydropower siting in the Brazilian Amazon. Decision-support tools and frameworks resulting from these studies can help avoid or minimize the land and biodiversity impacts of renewable energy expansion necessary to meet climate change mitigation targets.