Energy Strategy Reviews
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As population and economies continue to grow on a global scale, so too does the demand for energy. To improve reliability and independence of energy supplies, the U.S. and many other countries are seeking internally-sourced renewable energy; solar is one such renewable-energy source that meets these criteria. However, all energy sources exert some environmental impacts. In the case of solar, direct impacts stem mostly from alteration of land needed to host infrastructure. Understanding the environmental upside and downside potential of solar energy systems allows a more comprehensive, side-by-side comparison with different energy sources. In this article, we focus on the solar energy potential of West Texas, USA, a large arid to semi-arid region with a rural population and favorable climatic conditions. Texas is an interesting and important region to study given its unregulated and independent grid operation and the additional (and substantial) sources of regionally produced energy. Herein, we assess the geographic and environmental attributes, constraints to (e.g., incoming solar radiation, slope, habitats, ecoregion, water availability, etc.), and the potential environmental impacts on land resources from utility-scale installations of different types of solar energy generation systems. Our assessment points to the balance needed to expand solar energy to gain flexibility in energy sourcing on the one hand, while carefully considering future locations and technology to avoid regional impacts to land and environmental resources.
Solar radiation; Habitats; Water; Brownfields
Oil, Gas, and Energy | Power and Energy
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Devitt, D. D.,
Young, M. H.,
Pierre, J. P.
Assessing the Potential for Greater Solar Development in West Texas, USA.
Energy Strategy Reviews, 29