Evaluating energy infrastructure land use in the Delaware River Basin

Authors: Caitlin M. Lucas*, Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc., Claire A. Jantz, Center for Land Use and Sustainability (CLUS), Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Energy, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: land use, land use change, energy, renewable, solar, wind, transmission, DRB, Delaware, River, Basin, area, pipelines, windmills, solar panels, petroleum, oil, natural gas
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

ABSTRACT: Due to the growing demand for electricity, energy “sprawl” has become the number one driver of land use change in the United States. As part of a larger land use change study in the Delaware River Basin (DRB), this study aims to provide baseline estimation of land area occupied by energy infrastructure and associated right-of-way. Our assessment addressed electric infrastructure, pipelines, transmission lines, wind farms, and commercial solar farms. The calculations from this study relate to the land area currently associated with energy infrastructure, above- and underground. The analysis reveals that current land occupied by energy infrastructure in the DRB totals 1,121 km2. The highest contributor to the total is the electric transmission infrastructure needed to support energy distribution. There are over 27,000 km of transmission lines alone, which occupy a land area of 885 km2, while natural gas pipelines make up the second highest land area devoted to transmission services (over 9,000 km of pipeline, occupying 128 km2 of land). Renewables, especially solar, are rapidly expanding in the region. Currently 5 km2 of land is covered by solar panels in the Basin while wind infrastructure is negligible (0.08 km2) – most large-scale wind farms in the region are located just outside of the Basin. Within the DRB, new transmission lines, gas pipelines, and rapid expansion of commercial solar farms (still in its nascent phase), make energy infrastructure a primary land use issue in the DRB. As such, this baseline analysis is an important step to support Basin-wide planning.

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