A new mapping tool developed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will make it easier for renewable energy developers to identify sites that are less likely to interfere with military activities.
The Renewable Energy and Defense Geospatial Database — the result of a collaboration between NRDC and the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness — provides geographic information systems (GIS) data that is largely missing from the current renewable energy siting process, particularly in the West where the opportunity for development of utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal sources is abundant and military operations are widespread.
“With this tool, a developer can greatly minimize the chance that they will have some compatibility issues with DOD or from an environmental perspective,” Frank DiGiovanni, director of training readiness and strategy for the office of the deputy assistant secretary for readiness, told American Forces Press Service.
The resource, which is available online through NRDC’s website, captures essential DOD activities, including installation, testing and training range locations; low-altitude, high-speed military flight training routes and special use airspace; and an extensive inventory of weather and air surveillance radars within the United States.
The site also shows environmentally sensitive areas and congressionally designated wilderness, critical environment areas, national monuments and areas without roads. The database incorporates information from the FAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service and other sources to give developers a planning picture not previously available.
NRDC partnered with the Pentagon to develop the database to improve planning for projects by all interested parties and accelerate the advancement of renewable energy throughout the United States. The tool also aims to bolster energy security, create jobs and protect the environment. The environmental action group developed the resource at no cost to the government.