New England states have ambitious climate goals and, together, they have made considerable progress reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions through a range of activities. Increasing the share of renewables in the electric supply, and displacing fossil fuels, is a core part of achieving these targets. However, the rapid expansion of renewable energy installations across the region in recent years has brought new and pressing challenges. This new pressure compounds the severe “competition for land” in New England, underpinning the need to evaluate smart solar siting as a uniquely flexible tool to combat climate change while reinforcing conservation of our most precious lands and natural resources.
What is Smart Solar Siting?
Smart solar siting removes unnecessary barriers to solar projects that are in the public interest while providing oversight for projects that will have community or natural resource impacts. It is built upon data driven analyses that consider the inherent trade-offs associated with ground mounted solar and the differing values of stakeholders in order to reduce conflict and achieve greater public support of renewable energy siting.
There is no single solution – smart solar siting requires a range of policy approaches at the legislative, regulatory, and community level. With smart solar siting we can accelerate the expansion of renewable energy generation and cut greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining our regional food systems.