Solar energy may be having an impact on California’s natural habitat

October 22, 2015 0 By John Max

Study suggests that state must be more careful when developing new solar energy projects

Researchers from California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Center for Conservation Biology have released a new study suggesting that careful steps should be taken to ensure that new solar energy projects do not disrupt the natural habitat of California. As focus on clean power and fighting climate change increases, new solar energy projects are beginning to take form in the state. This has lead to growing concerns regarding how these projects are affecting the state’s habitat and whether or not these projects are having some detrimental effect on wildlife.

Majority of utility-scale projects are located in cropland and pastures

Researchers investigating the siting impact of some 161 existing, under development, and planned utility-scale solar energy projects in the state. These projects are designed to produce no less than 1 megawatt of electrical power, which is enough to power approximately 165 average homes. The study found that the majority of these sites are located in natural California habitats, particularly scrublands, croplands, and pastures. Less than 15% of these solar energy systems are located in developed areas. Another 19% of these systems are located in areas far removed from an existing transmission infrastructure, which may have significant economic, energy, and environmental consequences.

California continues to show strong support for clean power

Solar Energy - Solar PanelsCalifornia was a very early adopter of solar energy, showing favor for both conventional photovoltaics and concentrated solar power, which involves concentrating sunlight in order to produce higher quantities of electrical power. The state believes that solar energy, as well as other forms of clean power, can effectively reduce its reliance on fossil-fuels, making it more environmentally friendly. By embracing renewable energy, California may also become a greater influence in the fight against climate change.

State must take care when developing new solar energy projects

The study suggests that the state, as well as energy developers, should take steps to ensure that the environmental impact of solar energy projects is kept to a minimum. This may be accomplished through better optimized development techniques, as well as a better understanding of the potential impact that these projects can have on a natural habitat.