The Ecology of Renewable Energy Development
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
316, Baltimore Convention Center
Kara A. Moore, University of California, Davis
Rebecca Degagne, Conservation Biology Institute; and
Rebecca Hernandez, Stanford
Kendra M. Chan, University of California, Davis
Utility-scale solar and wind energy facilities provide both physical and conceptual frontiers at which ecological, political, economic, and social values interface. Renewable energy facilities around the world are moving rapidly from the proposal and planning stages to construction and operation in an attempt to curb global change and fulfill increasing energy demands. To simultaneously advance energy and biological conservation goals, academic and agency scientists have responded with targeted studies to compare energy alternatives and impacts and provide necessary information for the adaptive management of special-status species. Critical challenges for land-use planning include identifying favorable areas for utility-scale renewables construction while meeting federal and state conservation standards, and managing direct and indirect effects of renewable energy development on special-status species. Research on renewable energy ecology is taking place across a wide range of geographic, earth science, and ecological sub-disciplines. We propose to bring together innovators and specialists working on renewable energy ecology in several disciplines to present results, challenges, and lessons learned at the local, regional, and global levels.
This symposium will gather experts on several ecological aspects of the renewable energy boom to discuss development of regional planning tools, biological impacts and conservation methodology, and experimental approaches to the management of threatened plant and animal species in these landscapes. The session will begin by considering the process of energy siting, including strategies to maximize energy production while accommodating conservation priorities. Next, we will hear about the impacts of solar and wind energy infrastructure on ecological processes and examine the effect of these changes on plants and wildlife. Construction of renewable energy facilities imposes radical physical and biological change to the landscape over short spatial and temporal scales. They also create novel experimental systems in which diverse questions in ecology and conservation biology, such as the effects of disturbance and local climatic change, can be explored. Our session will conclude with discussion of a novel regional conservation tool and the lessons learned from its application in a development process.