A transition to renewable energy is good for people and the planet. It will mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve human health and the environment by decreasing air and water pollution, and support jobs and economic development.
Mitigating the impacts of climate change to people and nature requires a rapid global buildout of renewable energy, and we are just at the beginning. We need at least a nine-fold increase in renewable energy production to meet the Paris Agreement goals and much more to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The land-use footprint for this buildout will be enormous because renewable energy infrastructure requires a lot of land —especially onshore wind and large-scale solar installations.
How can we go smart to go fast? Energy development has a long history of environmental impacts, community opposition, and stalled and canceled projects—a history that we cannot afford to repeat in the shift to renewable energy. Accelerating this transition requires a smart buildout, one that safeguards natural areas and socio-cultural values, and supports goals for climate, conservation, and communities.
The scale of the renewable energy buildout will intensify pressure on lands and waters in ways that could impact communities, ecosystems, and wildlife. Related social and environmental concerns could, in turn, slow the clean energy transition itself. That is why The Nature Conservancy believes that renewable energy buildout must go smart to go fast.
The good news is the world has an abundance of areas with high renewable energy development potential and low biodiversity value—many multiples more than what is needed to meet global climate goals. All 10 of the highest emitting countries have more than enough suitable areas—places like mine lands, brownfields, and marginal farmlands—where renewable energy development could make land assets productive again, support community and economic development, and provide new revenue streams for landowners.
But this will not happen on its own. By taking steps today for a clean and green buildout, the world can meet goals for climate, conservation, and communities.
Site Wind Right
To help accelerate the deployment of wind energy in a way that helps people and nature thrive, The Nature Conservancy is providing the award-winning Site Wind Right map.
Our Work in the U.S.
Collaborating for solar on former mine lands in Virginia
One of the first utility-scale solar projects on former surface mines will be developed in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. See the News Release
Long Island Solar Roadmap
A new report details how to advance clean energy development while safeguarding the places people value most. See Long Island's Opportunities
Wisconsin's Renewable Energy Future
Wisconsin's businesses share challenges and opportunities in the transition to renewable energy. See how Wisconsin is transitioning to clean energy.
Report Recommends Key Steps for Modernizing Maine's Electric Grid
A stakeholder group has issued a set of nine consensus-based recommendations for steps to plan, build, and operate the electric grid that is needed to meet Maine’s climate and energy requirements. See the story in Maine
Choosing Clean Energy in Iowa
Group-purchasing programs are helping homeowners, businesses and farmers go solar in all of Iowa's 99 counties. See how Iowans joined together to make this happen.
Choosing Clean Energy in Ohio
City and school officials in Ohio are tapping the potential of wind, solar, hydro and energy efficiency to save taxpayer dollars. See how their leadership has made a difference.
Choosing Clean Energy in Pennsylvania
Advancing Clean Energy PA is an online community working to change the conversation surrounding clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation. Join the conversation.
Power of Place: Land Conservation and Clean Energy Pathways for California
TNC's new study lays out pathways for protecting important natural and agricultural lands while creating a 100-percent clean energy future for California. Explore This Initiative
Mining the Sun
How states such as Nevada and West Virginia are reclaiming former mine lands with solar panels. See the Future of Solar
Guiding the renewable energy industry toward a sustainable and equitable clean energy transition. See the Press Release
Energy Sprawl Solutions
Interactive energy tool to visualize trade-offs between energy, carbon emissions and land use based on the world’s project energy needs. See the Solutions
Europe Renewable Siting
Working in Croatia to site clean energy with the highest ecological and social safeguards. See the Opportunities in Europe
Minding the Gap: Energy Sprawl and Access in India
Perspective on how India can achieve universal energy access while also protecting its critical habitats. Explore Renewable Work in India