Counties Blocking Wind and Solar: Threats to U.S. Clean Energy Goals

A nationwide analysis reveals that local governments in the US are banning new utility-scale wind and solar power faster than they're being built, posing a risk to the goal of reaching 100% clean energy by 2035.


US Wind and Solar Potential

The US has vast potential for wind and solar energy. In areas with faster and more consistent winds, turbines can generate more electricity. The maps below allow you to explore the potential for wind and solar energy generation by hovering and zooming around the country. However, there are certain areas, indicated in gray, which are already off-limits for federal, ecological, military, or other uses. Additionally, these maps exclude areas that are too mountainous for solar energy.

It is crucial to tap into this potential to achieve the nation's clean energy goals.

Local Blocks and Bans Threaten Renewable Energy Goals

Unfortunately, local governments have hindered the progress of wind and solar projects through various policies such as bans, moratoriums, and construction limits. These policies have made it difficult to build new plants. For instance, in 2009, 23 counties in North Carolina were banned from new wind projects, while Kentucky effectively prohibited the construction of new turbines across all 120 counties in 2014. Similar bans were implemented in Connecticut, Vermont, and Tennessee, limiting new wind projects.

These local impediments pose a significant challenge to achieving renewable energy goals.

Increasing Blocks and Bans in Solar Energy

Similar to wind energy, solar potential also faces constraints due to local blocks and bans. Some counties restrict solar energy to such a small area that it becomes unfeasible to build solar projects. Surprisingly, over half of these restrictions occur in counties that already have some operational solar capacity. It is essential to address these issues to fully utilize the solar energy potential.

To learn more about the visual analysis and the challenges faced by American farmers and misconceptions surrounding renewable energy, click the provided links. You can also explore impediments to solar and wind energy specific to your state.