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New study questions whether CA desert really is the best site for solar farms

Solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity at an Exelon solar power facility on September 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity at an Exelon solar power facility on September 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.

A new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University looks at solar farm projects across California.

A new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University looks at solar farm projects across California.

The study finds that more often than not, they are being built on desert lands and pose certain ecology challenges to wildlife and habitats. But a potentially better site for these projects is slowly emerging, the authors of the study say, out of the state’s Central Valley.

Earlier this year, Southern California became home to the world’s largest solar power plant, with the opening of a 550-megawatt solar farm near Joshua Tree National Park. A cheap, easy way to harvest energy, these types of solar projects have nonetheless come under attack for destroying natural habitats for desert animals and for causing unintended wildlife death.

As the state looks for greener ways to power homes and businesses, the decision on where to install large-scale solar projects will carry outsized ecological consequences.

As California and the rest of the nation look for greener ways to power homes and businesses, the decision on where to install large-scale solar projects will carry outsized ecological consequences.

Solar Energy Development Impacts on Land Cover

 

Guests:

Rebecca R. Hernandez, author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley

Barry Sinervo, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ecological and Evolutionary Climate Impacts at UC Santa Cruz

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