Ecological Impact Analyses

Site engineering requirements, technological needs, and associated infrastructure could have significant impacts on site- and landscape-level ecology. To measure ecological impact, we conducted spatial analyses that would allow us to quantify the effects of solar development on California desert ecology and biodiversity:

  • We utilized land management designations to identify and eliminate areas from our analysis that are legally incompatible or otherwise likely to conflict with solar development.
  • We identified sensitive habitat using the presence of rare or endangered species.
  • We used the distance of facilities to existing transmission lines and the slope of the proposed facility site as proxies for the amount of disturbance that a facility might have on the landscape.

These three ecological impacts were analyzed separately because, for example, a score based on distance of a proposed facility to the nearest transmission line cannot be objectively compared to a score based on ecological impact. Therefore, layers were not added together to form a single analysis map.