Siting Renewable Energy Facilities: A Spatial Analysis of Promises and Pitfalls
Recent efforts to site renewable energy projects have provoked as much, if not more, opposition than conventional energy projects. Because renewable energy resources are often located in sensitive and isolated environments, such as pristine mountain ranges or coastal waters, siting these facilities is especially difficult. Moreover, the viability of different renewable energy projects depends not only on complex economic and environmental factors, but also on the availability of supporting infrastructures, such as transmission lines. This paper examines the spatial relationships between four types of renewable energy resources – wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass – and an empirical measure of state-level transmission-line siting difficulty. Analyses explore the locations of renewable resource potential relative to areas of high siting difficulty, state electricity demand and imports, and states with renewable portfolio standards (RPSs). Major results reveal that state resource potential varies, and siting is significantly more difficult in states that import electricity and those with RPSs. These results suggest that states with the greatest incentives to develop renewable energy also face the most serious obstacles to siting new facilities.
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- Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Darmstadter, Joel & McVeigh, James, 1999. "Winner, Loser, or Innocent Victim? Has Renewable Energy Performed As Expected?," Discussion Papers dp-99-28, Resources For the Future.
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