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FutureStarrInnovative Strategies for Reducing the Land Required for Wind and Solar Power
Renewable energy plants produce lower emissions than their fossil counterparts, yet still require significant amounts of land for installation and operation, sparking concerns that agricultural areas will be invaded, leading to public opposition and sparking heated discussions among residents. Reducing the cost-effective footprint of fully renewable electricity systems can be done through strategic technology selection decisions; rooftop PV can achieve early reductions while utility-scale wind is responsible for further reduction. Canals in India As India transitions away from coal power and toward cleaner energies, they are looking for creative places to install solar plants - including across canal tops where panels could help prevent water evaporation. India relies on canal irrigation systems for 24% of its farmland irrigation needs and has embarked upon an ambitious expansion project. Experts argue that adding solar panels on top of canals makes sense in this regard. Solar panels placed atop canals can generate electricity without using up agricultural land, while providing shade that reduces evaporation. This also limits aquatic weed growth that clog canal drains in India - an issue the Navarra irrigation district in Spain is already working to combat by placing solar panels along canal rims as part of their pilot project; more nationwide implementation plans have already been announced by India itself. But installing floating steel trusses over canals and covering them with panels won't be simple or inexpensive, according to Upadhyay; first engineers must figure out how these structures will remain above water for extended periods - this won't come cheap and may cost as much as building conventional plants on land, according to him. One concern with installing solar panels on canals facing south is they will shade canals during the hottest part of the day, potentially impacting plant performance and potentially necessitating replacement panels at regular intervals due to long-term sun and wind exposure which could corrode them over time. Canals themselves may not provide optimal conditions for solar panels, particularly if their walls contain leaks or cracks that permit leakage of water, potentially polluting panels with algae and potentially leading to overheating issues due to hot canal water temperatures. However, these are just some of the concerns that must be addressed before solar panels on canals can become an option in India and other countries. Since this technology is still at an early stage of development, nobody knows whether its benefits outweigh its drawbacks. The Built Environment Renewable energy sector players span from farmers and utilities to financiers and oil companies; many vie for equal stakes on available land parcels for renewable power plant sites, making the search more complex and challenging. Solar and wind power installations can reduce land requirements by developing in unconventional sites like wetlands, salt-affected soils and contaminated land. Such sites tend to be less vulnerable to erosion and flooding while supporting more biodiversity than traditional agriculture practices. Co-locating renewables with existing land uses can reduce the environmental impacts associated with solar and wind infrastructure on local ecosystems, and can help ease community opposition as people often support renewable projects that will benefit their neighborhoods. It should be noted, however, that co-locating renewables with agriculture or building rooftop solar won't necessarily eliminate all competition for land use; transmission infrastructure needed to bring electricity to cities must pass through this same area as well. Land development on unconventional land types may require special engineering skills and can be costly. This is especially true for large-scale solar projects which may cover multiple acres - these developments tend to be more expensive than conventional solar or wind farms. Not all regions can accommodate such development; for instance, high solar penetration could increase land competition in Europe and India (especially when using concentrated USSE). On the other hand, this issue might not arise in Japan or South Korea. As such, ensuring solar development occurs without harming ecosystems is integral to its long-term success. As such, many researchers are currently searching for ways to prioritize biodiversity while meeting the needs of energy developers, operators, landholders, and nearby landholders. As recently reported by Vox article, solar's design doesn't need to pit clean energy against biodiversity; rather it can protect biodiversity while simultaneously increasing profitability of operators while lessening burden on nearby communities. Salt-Affected Land Soil salinization is an international issue caused by an excessive accumulation of water-soluble salts in soil. It limits crop production, causes soil erosion, degrades agricultural land quality and endangers the lives of farmers while having negative repercussions for economic development in regions afflicted with it. Therefore, finding appropriate reclamation practices for salinized soils is of critical importance. Salt-affected land can be reclaimed through various techniques, including salt scrapping and soil chemical amendments to enhance pore systems and increase salinity leaching as well as halophyte establishment. When choosing which reclamation technique will best serve a given salt-affected soil it is crucial to take account of land-climate interaction when making this determination. Many arid and semi-arid regions suffer from soil salinization. Saline soils result from interactions among climate, soil structure, drainage conditions and surface runoff/irrigation water loss/absorption imbalances as well as frequent summer waterlogging/drought cycles that make matters worse. Salinization occurs most quickly where surface runoff meets irrigation water loss/absorption imbalances with regular alternating cycles between summer waterlogging/drought. China is home to large areas of salinized and degraded land due to the monsoon climate, specifically in Xinjiang, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and North China Plain. These sodic soils feature low productivity due to poor land use management practices as well as degeneration processes causing many degradation issues. Innovative technologies have been developed and put through extensive on-farm trials for reclaiming saline and sodic soils, including Gypsum-Based Sodic Soil Reclamation, Subsurface Drainage of Saline/Sodic Soils and cultivating salt-tolerant crops as proven techniques. Though their soil may be poor, non-conventional land areas are ideal locations for PV and CSP power generation. While these places may seem dispensable as energy sites, their power production can help offset fossil fuel consumption while simultaneously decreasing air pollution - all while contributing towards creating a more sustainable future for everyone. Contaminated Land Considerations when planning to utilize contaminated land for renewable energy production are compelling: it cuts costs, mitigates environmental risk and creates jobs. A plot that has been exposed to any substance that may affect human health or the environment (direct exposure or via air, soil and water contamination), for instance due to industrial processes or inappropriate waste disposal or natural events like flooding are considered "contaminated". Not all contaminated sites are suitable for solar or wind projects, particularly those close to homes or sensitive natural resources. However, other uses exist that do not involve extracting natural or agricultural resources: industrial manufacturers could lease the land as part of a solar or wind farm at significantly discounted electricity rates in return for leasing it back from urban areas for renewable energy production purposes - this approach has proven popular across developed nations where heavy industry has moved out from urban centers. Notably, one effective strategy for reducing land requirements for solar power generation is locating renewable energy generation assets on sites already home to existing industrial companies. By taking this route, developers can access existing infrastructure while sidestepping issues related to land availability. At the core of this paper is our assumption that solar energy will often compete for land with cropland and commercial forestry in regions with high potential for solar penetration. Therefore, we focus on Europe, India and jointly Japan and South-Korea to obtain land competition estimates for various penetration scenarios with varying module efficiency improvements up to 2050.