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Minimizing habitat conflicts in meeting net-zero energy targets in the western United States

Using high-resolution energy and land-use modeling, researchers developed spatially explicit scenarios for reaching an economy-wide net-zero greenhouse gas target in the
western United States by 2050. Different levels of land and ocean use protections were applied to determine their effect on siting, environmental and social impacts, and energy costs. Meeting the net-zero target with stronger land and ocean use protections did not significantly alter the share of different energy generation technologies and only increased system costs by 3%, but decreased additional interstate transmission capacity by 20%. Yet, failure to avoid development in areas with high conservation value is likely to result in substantial habitat loss.