Guiding conservation and renewable energy development using a paired return-on-investment approach

Howard, Timothy G.; Schlesinger, Matthew D.; Lee, Cara; Lampman, Gregory; Tear, Timothy H.
Publisher N/A
SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue201
Pages69 - 77
Total Pages N/A
Article Link
PDF Link
Editor(s) N/A
Conference / Book Title N/A
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TagsReturn on investment; ROI; Wind turbine development; Development priorities; Conservation priorities
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Conference Date N/A
Publication Date16-Sep
Article Date N/A
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AbstractReturn-on-investment (ROI) can help integrate prioritization efforts for developers and conservation organizations alike. To examine this complementarity and to investigate improving dialogue across these two sectors, we conducted paired ROI assessments from the perspective of wind development and biodiversity conservation in the northeastern United States. Spatially explicit layers defined the three ROI components: benefit, cost, and probability of success. For the wind development ROI, we modeled turbine suitability using the random forest algorithm to develop the benefit surface. We treated biodiversity information related to permitting and development as a cost surface and applied land conservation status towards the probability of success term. The conservation ROI applied biodiversity priorities as the benefit surface, applied a higher environmental cost to areas with high wind turbine development value, and used estimates of ecosystem resilience to define the probability of success. This ROI highlighted conservation potential after applying the constraints of wind energy development. The analysis suggests that New York State, US, may be able to accommodate 16,000 Megawatts of power generation while avoiding conservation priorities, more than sufficient landscape to situate turbines up to the predicted capacity based on grid reliability (6600 MW). Further, the two ROI models taken together are more instructive than results from either model alone. Sensitivity analyses revealed that altering the weightings of the biodiversity input variables rarely changed the relationship among the two ROI models from place to place. We suggest that applying ROI from different perspectives may help form an important communication bridge between conservation and development tradeoffs, and prove valuable in the debate over renewable energy production options in the context of their environmental impacts.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
Modified: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
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