Land requirements for solar PV overestimated

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New research refutes the common belief that meeting the world's energy demand using 100 percent renewable resources could take up a significant amount of land.

According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), less than 1 percent of total global land mass would be required to meet 100 percent of projected electricity demand by 2050 if such electricity was generated using only solar PV. If well-planned, PV technology will not conflict with conservation efforts, WWF contends.

"Research has found that PV power plants provide considerable environmental benefits, including a low carbon footprint and a short energy payback time," said Lettemieke Mulder, First Solar vice president for sustainability.  "Replacing existing grid electricity with PV arrays significantly reduces greenhouse gas and heavy metal emissions as well water usage."

The research was developed by WWF in conjunction with First Solar, 3TIER and Fresh Generation and identifies Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey and the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh as regions that represent diverse geographies, demographics, natural environments, economies and political structures. These areas receive average levels of sunshine, but all show vast potential for widespread development of solar PV, according to WWF.

"As climate change increasingly threatens people and the natural world, it is more important than ever to work for the rapid and wide-scale adoption of well sited, responsibly operated renewable energy power facilities," said Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF's Global Climate & Energy Initiative.

For more:
- see the report