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Qualifiers:

  • 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).

Data sources:

  • 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.


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