Night photograph of the Spearville Wind Farm just north of the town of Spearville, in Ford County, Kansas
Spearville Wind Farm, Kansas Night photograph of the Spearville Wind Farm just north of the town of Spearville, in Ford County, Kansas © Jim Richardson

Climate Change Stories

Clean Energy for People and Wildlife

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BALD EAGLE We're looking for ways to minimize impacts of renewable energy projects on wildlife. © Kent Mason

Over the past 10 years breakthroughs in technologically have made clean, renewable energy both accessible and affordable in the United States. For example:

  • More than half of the nation’s new planned power generation is either a solar or wind energy project.
  • The #1 and #2 fastest growing jobs in the United States are solar energy installer and wind turbine technician.
  • Wind power is already cheaper per watt than natural gas in many parts of the country. 

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Yet we are still just scratching the surface of the nation’s vast technological, manufacturing, and renewable power resources, along with the potential to lead world markets in the production of clean, homegrown energy. 

The Nature Conservancy is working across the country to help private and public partners deliver clean, wildlife-friendly renewable power to customers faster and cheaper. 

Working together, we can set the power of nature free.

© Dodge Lamsa

Our Clean Energy Projects:

Renewable Energy Roadmaps

TNC is mapping areas that identify the best solar and wind resources, near existing transmission and road infrastructure, with the least potential conflict for people, water, and wildlife. This approach has already proven successful in the Mojave Desert, where solar developers were able to acquire their permits in half the normal time. 

In California this approach is helping the state successfully move towards 100 percent renewable power by 20145. In the Great Plains, wind mapping data is helping developers target areas away from bird migration routes. In New York our mapping is providing direction to energy developers where their investments are most likely to be successful. 

Laura Crane and a Fuller Star employee walking through the array of solar panels at the Fuller Star plant in Lancaster, California.
A Better Way Laura Crane and a Fuller Star employee walking through the array of solar panels at the Fuller Star plant in Lancaster, California. © Dave Lauridsen

Mining the Sun

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are 43 million acres of former mine lands and brownfields that could be repurposed for renewable energy development. These “Mining the Sun” sites have the added benefit of having existing transmission line and road infrastructure to the sites, and offer mining companies potential income to remediate. 

In Nevada, the nation’s largest hardrock mining state, TNC partnered with the Nevada Mining Association to establish new rules allowing the redevelopment of mine sites for renewable energy. A similar approach is occurring in West Virginia, where former coal lands have the potential for solar and wind development

Connecticut River Through the federal re-licensing process, TNC is working with partners to remove obsolete dams in the Connecticut River watershed and ensure fish- and wildlife-friendly hydro projects.

Hydro-Relicensing:

Hydropower has been providing clean energy for thousands of years. But more recently, large dams have blocked the migration of fish, including economically important species such as salmon, shad, and eel.  

In New England and Pennsylvania TNC is working with hydroelectric dam operators to identify practices that can improve fish passages through dams, and where possible, decommission obsolete dams that no longer provide efficient power.  

Wildlife-Wise Power in Nevada The country’s first solar power facility that balances the needs of wildlife with people went “live” in 2017. The solar facility not only supplies renewable energy and creates jobs but also cuts permitting time in half.

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