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The Science of Siting Clean Energy: Bridging Planning, Policy, and Practice

The Science of Siting Clean Energy: Bridging Planning, Policy, and Practice

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Building clean energy infrastructure at the pace and scale needed to meet state and federal climate targets faces many challenges, but in recent years, these challenges have shifted from technical and economic in nature toward a complex mix of social and institutional barriers. It is increasingly clear that finding communities that are willing and able to host large renewable energy projects, particularly wind and solar projects, will be essential for meeting climate goals. While many communities continue to say “yes” to wind and solar projects, there are growing numbers saying “no,” calling into question whether current siting practices and policies can support the pace of clean energy deployment called for by policymakers. New understandings and approaches are urgently needed to plan, site, and build clean energy in ways that garner and sustain community support for hosting these climate-friendly technologies at scale.

The Center for EmPowering Communities, in partnership with Clean Air Task Force, hosted a two-part workshop series to bring together perspectives, knowledge, and insights among practitioners and researchers who have firsthand experience working on getting contentious things built. The goal of the workshops was to identify paradigm-shifting opportunities and solutions for building community acceptance of wind and solar infrastructure. These workshops were hosted over two sessions in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the Fall of 2023.

This document summarizes the key takeaways from the workshops, primarily focusing on new ideas developed by the group. Workshop participants believe that ideas presented here, with further refinement and coordination, could offer a productive path forward that would both support procedurally just decision-making and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure.