A tidal river bordered by thick marsh grasses.
Georgia salt marsh Salt marsh and hammock along Mosquito Creek border on Little St. Simons Island. © Marc Del Santro

Stories in Georgia

Tackling Climate Change in Georgia

Accelerating solutions in this critical decade.

Tackling climate change is vitally important. Each successive month brings new heat records, extreme weather and other indicators that our climate is changing at a pace that threatens the quality of our lands, air and waters, the well-being and prosperity of our communities, and general stability around the world.

The Nature Conservancy is committed to advancing solutions that match the scale and urgency of this crisis. Led by science, we are committed to tackling climate change, both to keep global warming below 1.5°C and to help vulnerable people and places deal with its negative impacts.

We are working to achieve this by:

  • Protecting and restoring healthy and resilient natural landscapes.
  • Mobilizing action to secure a clean energy future.
  • Supporting laws and initiatives that promote a healthy planet.
  • Accelerating natural climate solutions that address environmental threats.
A worker in a hard hat stands between rows of solar panels.
Solar Potential Georgia's clean energy future must include mid- to large-scale solar arrays that help meet the state's climate and clean energy goals while mitigating harmful impacts on nature. © Ruslan Dashinsky, iStock

Expanding Solar Power in Georgia

Shifting from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy is vital to achieving the low-carbon future we need to combat climate change.  Fortunately, Georgia’s land characteristics and plentiful sunshine make the state perfect for home-grown renewable energy.   Combined with technology advances that have vastly improved the cost effectiveness of solar energy, the state’s solar industry is growing quickly.  Between 2019 and 2021, Georgia’s solar energy generation nearly doubled, and the state is among the top 10 in the U.S. for installed solar capacity.

The Nature Conservancy supports the expansion of solar development, including rooftop and community solar deployment.  To reach the scale of energy generation required, however, the state is expected to rely on large-scale (utility-scale) solar facilities, which typically generate between 1 and 4 megawatts of power. 

Unlike power facilities that run on coal or gas, solar facilities require no fuel source beyond the power of the sun, and solar energy is free of the carbon pollution inherent in fossil fuels.  But the photovoltaic panels that generate solar power do require a lot of space.  Utility-scale solar requires roughly 5-10 acres of land for each megawatt that is generated.  In Georgia, each solar facility typically ranges from 15 to 50 acres.

Protecting the State’s Biodiversity

Georgia currently generates approximately 1,500 megawatts of solar energy, which accounts for only 2% of the state’s energy portfolio (the rest coming from a mix of natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass, and other sources).  If solar were to expand to comprise 20% of the state’s overall energy generation, this could require an additional 75,000 acres of land.

Much of Georgia is covered by forests and farmlands—land that plays a critical role in sustaining people and wildlife.  The conversion of this land to solar generation could exact a heavy toll on environmentally sensitive habitat and the wildlife and people who depend on that land.

The Nature Conservancy is working to expedite smart growth of solar energy.  We support low impact solar siting that minimizes negative effects on sensitive lands and habitat.  We’ve developed a mapping tool to help solar developers site their projects right, tapping Georgia’s solar benefits while also protecting its biodiversity.  We are proud to work with partners to achieve this win-win scenario for Georgia.

Leveraging the Power of Nature

Georgia's changing climate is impacting the places we love, our lifestyles and the health of our communities. We are seeing more severe storms, more extreme temperatures, and less reliable water supplies. These changes have far-reaching consequences that affect many aspects of our lives, from the air we breathe to the food we eat.

The time to act is now, and the way forward is together.  

Nature is our first line of defense against many climate impacts. It also provides a cost-effective solution to protecting communities and economies from the impacts of climate change like urban heat, extreme flooding, catastrophic storms and stormwater runoff.

In addition to coastal protection, natural ecosystems and nature-based solutions supply a host of other benefits, including improved water quality, recreational space and healthier fisheries. Trees and other green infrastructure also capture and store carbon, while providing critical habitat for Georgia's native flora and fauna.

That’s why we are investing in nature-based solutions on the coast. We help coastal communities such as Camden County prepare for and mitigate the impact of sea level rise, we work with partners to restore critical habitat such as maritime forests, salt marsh and oyster reef. 

Screenshot from a video showing a woman explaining something on a large computer monitor.
Flood Awareness Tool Ashby Worley, TNC's Coastal Climate Adaptation Director, demonstrates Camden County's Flood & Sea-Level Rise tool. © Camden County

Approximately 35% of Camden County’s residents live within the 100-year floodplain. Three coastal rivers flow through the County, and 50% of the land is classified as wetlands. Camden experiences the effects of sea level rise, storm surge, regular riverine flooding, and king tides.

Camden County partnered with TNC to launch an online flood Awareness tool designed to help planning officials, decision makers, and current and future residents make informed decisions to prepare for and reduce the impacts of flooding.