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Renewable energy
can be integrated into myriad underused surfaces throughout the public right-of-way.storage. In fact, renewable energy development has already been the largest driver of land-use change in the United States in the past decade. Yet it’s just a fraction of what is needed: A recent com- prehensive study found that in order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, at least 228,000 square miles could be needed for new renewable energy facilities by midcentury— or the combined area of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee. Another re- cent study found that renewable energy will need to account for 50 percent of electricity by 2030 to meet Biden’s carbon emissions goal.
Early examples of large-scale renewable deployment across the United States have resulted in land-use conflict, lead- ing to some classic cases of “green-on-green” battles— places where conservationists and climate hawks, both coming from the environmentalist side of the political spectrum, have butted heads. Many such conflicts took place on public lands in the Southwest over impacts to threatened and sensitive desert species. Other flashpoints have emerged over visual impacts to farmland and rural vistas. These conflicts are more intense where states have set aggressive clean energy goals, such as California and Hawaii. We believe that such conflicts are unfortunate and unnecessary, and that renewable energy can easily coexist with both wildlife habitat and rural farmland, but only if it incorporates social, cultural, and ecological values through careful engagement with locals.
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Renewable energy
can be integrated into myriad underused surfaces throughout the public right-of-way. Image courtesy Alison Grover, University of Oregon; Adviser: Yekang Ko.

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