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Resource Potential and Land Use Tradeoffs of Renewable Electricity Development in Vermont, USA
1  Department of Community Development and Applied Economics & Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, 617 Main Street Burlington, Vermont 05405 USA

Published: 03 November 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Energy Sustainability
Abstract: The State of Vermont, USA seeks to expand the generation and use of renewable electricity over the coming decades. I apply a social-ecological-technical systems framework to investigate the resource potential and land use tradeoffs of development of in-state commercial-scale solar photovoltaic and wind electricity generation facilities in Vermont. Based on existing policy goals, I calculate number of facilities required and use spatial modeling and simulation to assess solar photovoltaic and wind resource potential, suitable siting patterns and tradeoffs between resource productivity and biodiversity. This assessment finds that Vermont will require from 178 to 1,527 - 2.2 MW solar photovoltaic facilities and an additional 9 to 76 - 20 MW wind facilities by 2032. Vermont's solar photovoltaic resource potential is equivalent to 18.9 percent of the state's total land area, and wind resource potential is equivalent to 3.1 percent of the state's total land area. Vermont holds sufficient solar and wind resource potential to support the state's renewable electricity policy goals. Renewable electricity development in Vermont will require confronting a tradeoff between use of areas with either lower resource potential or moderate biodiversity value. The conceptualization of Vermont's emerging renewable energy system as a social-ecological-technical system can guide future research and decision making.
Keywords: Biodiversity; Dinamica, land use change; renewable energy; social-ecological-technical system; sustainable development; Vermont