Graham Energy Futures Initiative

Drawing upon the University of Michigan’s world-class research across disciplines, in collaboration with external partners from the public and private sectors, to provide sustainable solutions to solve the challenge.

Increasing the use of renewable energy entails a geographical shift in energy production. Currently, most energy in the United States comes from large, centralized fossil fuel and nuclear power plants sited in or near urban areas (where much of that power is used). By contrast, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, are scalable, thereby allowing for a more distributed power generation network.

However, renewables also require more land area per energy unit than traditional power plants. This means that the shift toward renewable energy will put far more—and different—people in contact with energy infrastructure. Moreover, land in urban areas is inadequate to meet cities’ energy needs. As a result, the energy transition will require siting renewable energy infrastructure in rural communities.