Renewable energy versus(?) biodiversity

Cumulative number of peer-reviewed articles on siting of renewable energy installations

Renewable energy might save the world, but we need to be sure it doesn’t destroy it along the way. . .

Unless located and designed wisely, solar and wind installations could actually harm species as they shift in response to climate change. Owing to their large size, large-scale renewable energy plants have an outsized impact on local landscapes in relation to the amount of power they generate. Our recent research, led by Dr. Uzma Ashraf of UC Davis, found almost no cases where studies of renewable siting decisions included species’ potential future ranges as criteria for locating installations.

To address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity, we need a climate-smart siting framework that balances energy production with current and future needs of biodiversity.

Aligning renewable energy expansion with climate-driven range shifts [article | summary]
Ashraf, U., Morelli, T.L., Smith, A.B., and Hernandez, R.R. 2024. Nature Climate Change 24:242-246.

Abstract: Fossil fuel dependence can be reduced, in part, by renewable energy expansion. Increasingly, renewable energy siting seeks to avoid significant impacts on biodiversity but rarely considers how species ranges will shift under climate change. Here we undertake a systematic literature review on the topic and overlay future renewable energy siting maps with the ranges of two threatened species under future climate scenarios to highlight this potential conflict.