Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies
Providing global warming solutions for California and the West.
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Want to solve climate change? Open more land to solar, industry leader says
By Sammy Roth | December 1, 2022 | Los Angeles Times
Ending the climate crisis will almost certainly require putting solar panels and wind turbines on huge amounts of land — some of it valuable wildlife habitat, some of it now used for food production, some of it held sacred by Indigenous tribes.
It’s an uncomfortable reality backed up by robust scientific research — and the starting point for many efforts to identify the least damaging places to build renewable energy infrastructure. I wrote recently about one of those efforts, a Nature Conservancy study with the optimistic conclusion that the American West can generate enough clean power to replace fossil fuels, even if some of its most ecologically important landscapes and best farmlands are placed off limits to solar and wind projects.
The study represents a common way of thinking about renewable energy planning, known as “smart from the start.” The idea is to push development to lower-conflict areas, helping projects get approved faster while also protecting the natural world.
As far as Shannon Eddy is concerned, it’s a good strategy in theory — but in practice, it can leave a lot to be desired.
Eddy runs the Large-scale Solar Assn., a Sacramento trade group that represents and lobbies for the solar industry. Her member companies are tasked with building much of the machinery needed for California to reach 100% clean energy — a task that can be lucrative but also challenging. Almost anywhere you try to construct a solar farm in this state, someone will try to stop you.
Eddy is a fierce advocate for her industry — it’s her job — but she also cares deeply about solving the climate crisis, and doing it equitably. She reached out after reading my piece on the Nature Conservancy study, and told me she wanted to talk.
In her view, state and federal officials are making it far too difficult to build the solar panels and wind turbines needed to phase out coal, oil and gas — tipping the scales toward a future of mass extinctions and dire human health consequences.
July 25, 2019 NV Energy Announces ‘Hulkingly Big’ Solar-Plus-Storage Procurement | Greentech Media - (pdf)
June 9, 2019 Don’t let global warming hinder California’s climate goals | SJMN - (pdf)
January 22, 2019 Bailout doubt – PG&E faces bankruptcy amid California's 'first climate change-caused emergency' | Utility Dive - (pdf)
January 16, 2019 California’s energy grid is in crisis. Can the state keep the lights on? | Sac Bee - (pdf)
January 10, 2019 California set a goal of 100% clean energy, and now other states may follow its lead | LA Times - (pdf)
January 9, 2019 It was a bad year for carbon emissions, even in California | grist - (pdf)
November 14, 2018 Jerry Brown signed $1 billion in wildfire prevention—and none of it applies to the fires this year | CALmatters - (pdf)
September 6, 2018 California passes 100% clean energy bill, but punts on several plans for getting there | Palm Springs Desert Sun - (pdf)
August 28, 2018 OPINIONATED: Go Back to Aliso Canyon Deal Drawing Board | California Current - (pdf)
August 2, 2018 How California can regionalize its energy system without handing Trump the grid | Sacramento Bee - (pdf)