Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Solar Energy News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SOLAR DAILY
Study urges optimization of solar energy development
by Staff Writers
Riverside CA (SPX) Oct 20, 2015


This photo shows a utility-scale solar energy installation in a shrubland ecosystem. Image courtesy R. Hernandez, UC Berkeley. For a larger version of this image please go here.

On Oct. 7, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed legislation aimed at increasing renewable-energy generation. Among renewable energy systems, solar energy has high potential for mitigating climate change, resulting in diverse technologies that capture the sun's thermal energy.

But big solar is far from transmission and demand loads, too close to protected areas, and is a driver of land-use and land-cover change, concludes a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Riverside.

"Our study, which focuses on California, shows that utility-scale solar energy development can be a driver of land-use and land-cover change, which is a source of greenhouse gas emissions itself," said Rebecca R. Hernandez, the lead researcher and a former junior specialist at UC Riverside who worked closely on the research with Michael F. Allen, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB).

"We see this happening if solar energy power plants are sited in natural habitats, in lieu of areas already impacted by humans - such as on commercial rooftops or over parking lots." According to Hernandez, the story began with a race and a tortoise, the race being the ramping up of solar energy development in California in response to climate change.

"At a time when many utility-scale solar energy developers would have liked to be celebrating their permit approvals to break ground on construction, they were confronted with the reality of a complex, arduous, and costly mitigation of environmental impacts, in which much of it was focused on the desert tortoise," she said. "Today, the development of natural land for solar energy generation is receiving attention not just for tortoises but whole ecosystems."

Study results appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"California's desert is the least understood of our major biomes, full of endemism and diversity," Allen said. "But we were observing extensive environmental damage, without understanding that simple, prudent siting of utility-scale solar energy installations could alleviate that damage. The first step is always to verify what we observe. This paper represents the careful analysis of the hypothesis that solar development, in particular, could be more appropriately distributed, for power, for carbon sequestration, and for biodiversity."

The researchers assessed siting impacts of 161 planned, under construction, and operating utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations within California. They picked California to focus on because of its early and rapid deployment of solar energy systems, large energy demand, and diverse ecosystems.

They found the majority of USSE in the state is sited in natural environments - shrub- and scrublands (375 square kilometers of change). Twenty-eight percent of these installations are located in croplands and pastures (155 square kilometers of change), illustrating that agricultural lands for renewable energy are being utilized.

The research team is currently studying solar energy in the Central Valley in greater depth, led by Madison K. Hoffacker, a co-author on the study and a junior specialist in CCB, to understand its potential for development and the extent to which farmers and agricultural landowners are putting down the plow and raising solar panels.

"We are seeing landowners, particularly in the Central Valley, shift from harvesting crops to harvesting the sun," Hoffacker said.

The study reveals that USSE development is a source of land-cover change and, based on its proximity to protected areas, may result in direct and indirect ecological consequences.

"These impacts may include increased non-native species invasions and compromised movement potential of species tracking habitat shifts in response to environmental disturbances, such as climate change," Hernandez said.

She emphasized the urgent need to optimize solar energy development.

"For centuries, we have literally had our heads in ground, digging holes for fossil fuels," she said.

"This research provides a much-needed ruler to measure the sustainability and efficiency of renewable energy siting decisions. We have the data, technology, and economy to support a rapid and efficient solar energy transition without adverse environmental impacts. On the other hand, we have a dearth of understanding of how aridland ecosystems - ecosystems humans depend upon for their services - are restored with few success stories. Clearly, we need to raise our standards because the stakes are high and the consequences impact humans globally. Whatever we do here, in California, is going to be scrutinized or emulated elsewhere.

"In another study, we are quantifying the avoided carbon dioxide emissions associated with solar energy environmental co-benefit opportunities," she added.

Hernandez, Allen and Hoffacker were joined in the study by Michelle L. Murphy-Mariscal and Grace Wu. Allen is a professor of plant pathology and microbiology and a professor of biology. Hernandez is now a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Murphy-Mariscal, a UCR alumna, was a staff scientist at CCB for six years and is now lead biologist at Western Riverside County MSHCP. Wu is a graduate student at UC Berkeley.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
University of California - Riverside
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
SOLAR DAILY
Silver: The promising electrode winner for low-cost perovskite solar cells
Tancha, Japan (SPX) Oct 15, 2015
Perovskite solar cells are the rising star in photovoltaics. They absorb light across almost all visible wavelengths, they have exceptional power conversion efficiencies exceeding 20% in the lab, and they are relatively easy to fabricate. So, why are perovskite solar cells yet to be found on the top of our roofs? One problem is their overall cost, and another is that cheaper perovskite solar cel ... read more


SOLAR DAILY
New UT study highlights environmental, economic shortcomings of federal biofuel laws

Light emitting diodes made from food and beverage waste

Study: Africa's urban waste could produce rural electricity

Researchers create inside-out plants to watch how cellulose forms

SOLAR DAILY
Google invests in Chinese artificial intelligence firm

Friendly robot Pepper makes European debut in France

Robots are learning to fall with grace

More-flexible machine learning

SOLAR DAILY
E.ON finishes German wind farm

Adwen and IWES sign agreement for the testing of 8MW turbine

US has fallen behind in offshore wind power

Moventas rolls out breakthrough up-tower planetary repairs for GE fleet

SOLAR DAILY
Consumer Reports hits reliability of 'best car' Tesla

Uber invests big in China in face of fierce rival

VW examining if another engine has pollution cheating device

Pakistani entrepreneurs launch 'Uber for rickshaws'

SOLAR DAILY
What are these nanostars in 2-D superconductor supposed to mean

New Battery Storage Software Jump-Starts Marketing and Sales

Saft and Boeing renew satellite battery agreement

With this new universal wireless charger, compatibility won't be an issue

SOLAR DAILY
China, Britain strike 'historic' nuclear deal

Saudi, Hungary sign nuclear pact

China 'to take one-third stake' in UK nuclear plant

Areva job cuts fuel union security concerns

SOLAR DAILY
To reach CO2, energy goals, combine technologies with stable policies

EDF for carbon price floor

Shift from fossil fuels risks popping 'carbon bubble': World Bank

DOE selects UC Berkeley to lead US-China energy and water consortium

SOLAR DAILY
Future coastal climate not cool for redwood forests

New study rings alarm for sugar maple in Adirondacks

Protected and intact forests lost at an alarming rate around the world

Could contaminated land actually be good for trees




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement