Long Story Short: Anthony Lopez on the National Impact of Local Siting Constraints (Text Version)

This is the text version of the video Long Story Short: Anthony Lopez on the National Impact of Local Siting Constraints.

This video features an interview with NREL’s Anthony Lopez on the challenges of siting new wind and solar energy projects—and how that can impact the total available U.S. wind and solar energy needed to meet national climate and energy goals.

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[Anthony speaks]

More than 10 years ago, we did research to quantify the technical potential of wind and solar technology across the United States. We showed back then that we had more than 10 times the amount of electricity from wind and solar than we needed for decarbonization.

Fast forward to today, we have a much better representation of the built and natural environment, the regulatory constraints, the ecological constraints …. If you add all of those up together, the United States seems big, but the places you can actually put PV or put wind turbines becomes constrained very quickly.

That's why it's really important to figure out how do we navigate these local siting restrictions?

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You know, previously, we always focused on the economics of renewable energy, and indeed that was really important. But we've made so much progress on that, that it's not really our chief concern. Our main concern now is siting constraints. How do we site renewables in an equitable way?

So basically, it's not about where you can't put renewables and finding new places; it's about innovative designs that make it more feasible to deploy. For example, serrated blades on turbines help to reduce some of the noise, increasing the siting flexibility of these turbines on the landscape.

At NREL, our goal is to model the real world, and in doing so we're able to capture these siting trade-offs and evaluate just how critical they are.

NREL is absolutely a leader in this space, particularly in spatial analysis, but in combining that with resource assessment, techno-economic analysis, and power systems modeling. Our models actually consider every single building, every single road, every single transmission line, property line, and more.

And that's what's enabling us to quantify just how much of a challenge local siting constraints can be.

I'm really excited about this next phase of our research where we're partnering with organizations like the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and United States Geological Survey to really dive deep into the ecological and environmental sensitivities and how they intersect with renewable energy deployment.

[Web address appears on screen: nrel.gov/gis]