Prospecting for nature on the solar energy frontier

Authors: Dustin Mulvaney*,
Topics: Energy, Political Geography, Environment
Keywords: solar power, habitat mitigation, land use change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Renewable energy development is a leading cause of land use change across the American West, as electricity supplies shift from subterranean resources to diffuse resources collected on the surface. These developments have become a new source of land use conflict. This research presents the various political ecological considerations bound up in utility-scale solar projects. The focus is on the different organizational forms that manifest as developers in this space and where they extract value along the commodity chain and their interactions with the permitting processes for utility scale solar development. New industries, consultants, and land not just for solar, but also mitigations are rapidly posing governance challenges. This paper will highlight the tensions between business as usual industrial utility-scale solar development and an equitable and ecologically-informed "lighter-on-land" solar power deployment.

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