We talk a lot about how the expansion of renewable energy will usher in the age of fossil fuel-free power, but where exactly do these expansions need to take place and why aren’t they already? Some areas, like Massachusetts and California, are embracing offshore wind, but many more will have to get on board if we’re going to achieve a carbon neutral future. To address this, Princeton University’s Net-Zero America Report has mapped out a feasible path to renewables expansion and some of the factors preventing this progress.
The “Not in my backyard” challenge
Many people embrace wind and solar energy, but when you propose a wind farm in their neighborhood, they scoff at the idea. In states like Wyoming, residents are interested in the job opportunities that wind farms would provide for their blustery communities, but they also fear that turbines would ruin the vistas that make their state a prime outdoor tourism destination.
Permits and conservation
Another challenge facing renewables is the permits required for approval. Fortunately, new solar and wind legislation is helping to fast track these projects which are needed as the study estimates that 125 gigawatts of renewable energy will be generated on public land in the coming decades. A big part of this permitting process involves environmental impact studies. The installation of renewable infrastructure on decommissioned oil fields is one way to address this challenge.
In many areas of the US, powerlines serve to transport energy from one place to another, but in states with heavy snow and wind, above-ground power lines are not feasible. This is why it’s so important to expand green energy infrastructure and build localized power grids to improve both green energy access and grid resilience.
Technological advances such as vertical turbines, localized grids, and strategic panel placement can all break down logistical barriers to green energy generation. For local, state, and federal officials seeking to make a green future a reality, the full Princeton report offers five in-depth scenarios for how renewable energy infrastructure can significantly expand in the US using a combination of solar and wind projects, localized grids, and improved efficiency strategies. Areas for solar expansion include Florida, California, and New Mexico while wind energy development is largely clustered around the Midwest.
Source study: Princeton University – Net Zero America