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Siting Renewable Energy Facilities: A Spatial Analysis of Promises and Pitfalls

  • Vajjhala, Shalini

    ()

    (Resources for the Future)

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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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-06-34.

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Date of creation: 20 Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-06-34
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  1. Bolinger, Mark & Wiser, Ryan & Milford, Lew & Stoddard, Michael & Porter, Kevin, 2001. "States Emerge as Clean Energy Investors: A Review of State Support for Renewable Energy," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 14(9), pages 82-95, November.
  2. Berry, David, 2002. "The market for tradable renewable energy credits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 369-379, September.
  3. 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.
  4. Kahn, Robert D., 2000. "Siting Struggles: The Unique Challenge of Permitting Renewable Energy Power Plants," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 21-33, March.
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