Crafted by renewable energy experts at LevelTen Energy, which operates the world’s largest renewable energy marketplace, and conservation experts at The Nature Conservancy and The National Audubon Society, we bring you Beyond Carbon-Free: A Framework for Purpose-Led Renewable Energy Procurement and Development. This white paper advances the industry’s ability to build and procure with impact in mind, at the speed and scale the climate crisis demands. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that in order to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, developers will need an area of land greater than that of Colorado and Wyoming combined to construct new renewable energy projects. By embracing a “3C” approach, energy buyers and developers can play a pivotal role in maximizing the positive benefits this unprecedented build-out of wind, solar, and associated infrastructure can bring while achieving their own public sustainability commitments.
The 3Cs of Purpose-Led Procurement
Community: In the U.S., analysts estimate new wind and solar projects could provide nearly $11 billion in tax and land lease revenues, as well as construction, operations, and maintenance wages to rural communities — where the majority of renewable energy projects will be built — by 2030. Further, renewable energy projects can provide significant air and water quality benefits, leading to reduced rates of lung and heart diseases and premature deaths. Through community benefit agreements and other similar programs, buyers and developers can help ensure that these holistic benefits are reaped by diverse and underrepresented groups within local communities.
Conservation: Environmental impact assessments are already a standard phase of renewable development. But as the pace of development accelerates, renewable developers can go even further to ensure that projects support conservation efforts. Developers can begin environmental impact assessments sooner, embrace advanced risk-screening tools like The Nature Conservancy’s Site Renewables Right map and The National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Areas map, and foster deeper collaboration with local and state wildlife agencies to protect important habitats, maintain natural areas, and support healthy ecosystems.
Climate: While all renewable projects bring significant climate benefits through grid decarbonization, the extent of this impact can be amplified further through thoughtful project siting. A project developed within a “dirtier” grid where fossil fuel generation is more prevalent can bring greater decarbonization impacts than one sited on a “cleaner” grid. What’s more, wind and solar projects can be constructed on closed mines, former industrial areas, landfills, and other brownfield locations to avoid building in natural areas, forests, or viable agricultural land — maximizing the total potential for carbon abatement.
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