by Dr. Roy Cordato
Senior Economist, Emeritas
Environmentalists typically argue for sustainability in all things. Two biggies are sustainable energy, which typically means energy from renewable sources like wind and solar power, and sustainable land use, which typically means providing for housing and economic development using as little land as possible. The latter has lead to calls for high density, i.e., congested, living arrangements, mandatory greenways and urban growth boundaries. But what happens when goals conflict? Let’s pit sustainable energy against sustainable land use and see what we get. The data below is from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency.
Land Input for a 1,000 MW Power Plant
Coal 1,700 acres
Natural Gas 110 acres
Petroleum 120 acres
Nuclear 500-1,000 acres
Industrial Wind Turbines150,000 acres
Solar Photovoltaic 35,000 acres
What is a sustainability advocate to do?