Land footprints and CO2 emissions can vary greatly for different fossil fuel and renewable energy sources, but for simplicity, they were averaged across energy types.
This tool only measures CO2 emissions and land-use trade-offs between fossil fuel and renewable energy sources, and as a result does not take into account other impacts of fossil fuel energy sources beyond CO2 emissions.
Capacity factors were not included in these calculations; therefore land impacts are expected to be larger than indicated.
CO2 emissions targets from the 2015 U.N. Conference of the Parties in Paris were modified to reflect only electricity use (~50% of total emissions).
EIA 2016. International Energy Outlook 2016. Accessed 4/5/2017 <full text available here> (data for figure ES-6: World net electricity generation by energy source, 2012-2040)
Fthenakis, V., and J.C. Kim. 2009. Land use and electricity generation: a life-cycle analysis. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13: 1465-1474 (some data were visually extracted from graphics in this source).
Rockström et al. 2017. A roadmap for rapid decarbonization. Science 355(6331): 1269-1271.
Schlömer et al. 2014. Annex III: Technology-specific cost and performance parameters. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
World Bank. 2017. CO2 emissions from electricity and heat productions, % of total fuel combustion. Assessed 4/5/2017 <full text available here>
Disclaimer: It is essential for the world to increase renewable energy development dramatically in order to stabilize the climate. And by moving toward a more comprehensive, forward-looking approach to energy siting and management, we can take advantage of the opportunity to reduce the land-use footprint of renewables, safeguard ecosystem-services and biodiversity, and even potentially accelerate the needed transition to renewable energy. This interactive tool is designed to offer users the ability to explore the trade-offs between energy, CO2 emissions and land use. This tool does not represent positions of The Nature Conservancy.