Renewable energy potential in the U.S. is enormous and offers great potential to mitigate carbon emissions, improve redundancy in energy systems, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Because of the size and nature of many large-scale renewable energy projects, they must be sited to avoid our wildest lands and sensitive fish and wildlife habitat, and great care must be taken to limit environmental impacts to our precious landscapes. By working together to strike a balance between ecosystem services and the need for renewable energy, we can protect our valued and unique open spaces and simultaneously meet our energy and climate challenges.
Due to size and environmental requirements, renewable energy facilities are often more compatible with existing agricultural land-uses, allowing, for example, farmers to continue to plant crops around wind turbines. In Indiana, the Wood-Land-Lakes Resource Conservation and Development Land Trust’s Waugh Farm incorporated wind turbines as part of a larger deployment project.
Smaller scale distributed generation projects have also been found to be consistent with existing easements and operations. For example the Vermont Land Trusts’ Ayers Brook Goat Dairy installed a 150kW array on their building, leading by example to source cleaner power in their community. The Land Trust Alliance is working to further empower land trusts to encourage the build-out of renewable energy facilities while steering the facilities away from sensitive lands through a pilot project in New York, which will help land trusts in other states effectively navigate similar challenges.
More case studies are coming soon!