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Researchers from the Universities of California, Riverside and Berkeley Notes ‘Extensive Environmental Damage’ From Jerry Brown Solar Power Operations Because of Where They’re Being Located
new study has found that large-scale solar power, in its current state, in California might have some unintended operational consequences because it’s not necessarily in the right location.
Researchers from the Universities of California, Riverside and Berkeley, and Stanford University found that less than 15 percent of the state’s utility-scale solar energy operations are located in “compatible” areas.
“Our study, which focuses on California, shows that utility-scale solar energy development can be a driver of land-use and land-cover change, which is a source of greenhouse gas emissions itself,” Rebecca Hernandez, lead researcher on the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said in a statement. “We see this happening if solar energy power plants are sited in natural habitats, in lieu of areas already impacted by humans — such as on commercial rooftops or over parking lots.”
The researchers reviewed 161 USSE installations that were planned, in the works or already operating, detailing the land cover types where they were located.
While only a few were located in truly compatible areas, the majority were in what the study deemed “potentially compatible” areas and 19 percent were in “incompatible” areas.
Location of these installations is important for considering the impact on the local habitat and also transmissions to existing infrastructure.
“[W]e were observing extensive environmental damage, without understanding that simple, prudent siting of utility-scale solar energy installations could alleviate that damage,” Michael Allen, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology, said in a statement.