‘The Footprint of Energy: Land Use of U.S. Electricity Production’

Watts Up With That?

Guest post by David Middleton

The Strata group at Utah State University recently published a study on the “footprint of energy.”  For each energy source, the calculated the full-cycle land use required to generate 1 MW of electricity from each source of energy.  Despite the fact that they included the land required to drill and mine for natural gas and coal, all of the processing and transportation requirements, as well as power plant footprints, fossil fuels and nuclear power were the clear winners, by a long-shot.

Modern society requires a tremendous amount of electricity to function, and one of this generation’s greatest challenges is generating and distributing energy efficiently. Electricity generation is energy intensive, and each source leaves its own environmental and ecological footprint. Although many studies have considered how electricity generation impacts other aspects of the environment, few have looked specifically at how much land different energy sources require.

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