USA — Database Helps Identify Renewable Energy Sites

WASHINGTON — The Defense Depart­ment joined the Nation­al Resources Defense Coun­cil yes­ter­day to roll out a new map­ping tool designed to help steer renew­able ener­gy devel­op­ment efforts to loca­tions where they won’t inter­fere with mil­i­tary activ­i­ties or envi­ron­men­tal­ly sen­si­tive areas.

The new Renew­able Ener­gy and Defense Data­base rep­re­sents “a quan­tum leap” over pre­vi­ous plan­ning tools, Frank C. DiGio­van­ni, direc­tor of train­ing readi­ness and strat­e­gy in the Office of the Deputy Under Sec­re­tary of Defense for Readi­ness, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Service. 

Devel­op­ers can go into the “READ Data­base” and enter geo­graph­ic coor­di­nates of their projects ear­ly in the plan­ning process, DiGio­van­ni explained. 

The site uses geospa­tial data from open sources to show if those loca­tions con­flict with Defense Depart­ment bases, flight train­ing routes, test­ing and train­ing ranges and oth­er defense activ­i­ties, he said. It also iden­ti­fies sites where projects such as wind tur­bines could inter­fere with tech­ni­cal radar systems. 

In addi­tion, the data­base shows envi­ron­men­tal­ly sen­si­tive areas and con­gres­sion­al­ly des­ig­nat­ed wilder­ness, crit­i­cal envi­ron­ment areas, nation­al mon­u­ments and areas with­out roads. 

The data­base incor­po­rates infor­ma­tion from the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion, Nation­al Ocean­ic and Atmos­pher­ic Admin­is­tra­tion, Nation­al Park Ser­vice and oth­er sources to give devel­op­ers a plan­ning pic­ture not pre­vi­ous­ly available. 

“This is, for the first time, a real­ly good, com­pre­hen­sive look at all these dif­fer­ent inter­sect­ing inter­ests,” DiGio­van­ni said. “With this tool, a devel­op­er can great­ly min­i­mize the chance that they will have some com­pat­i­bil­i­ty issues with DOD or from an envi­ron­men­tal perspective.” 

David Belote, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the DOD Sit­ing Clear­ing­house, stood up to pro­vide devel­op­ers a fast, com­pre­hen­sive process for get­ting infor­ma­tion about project sites near DOD activ­i­ties, called the new data­base a state-of-the-art exam­ple of pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ing for renew­able ener­gy siting. 

NRDC has cre­at­ed a one-stop shop for devel­op­ers to pre­screen poten­tial project loca­tions for envi­ron­men­tal impacts as well as con­flicts with mil­i­tary test­ing, train­ing and home­land defense oper­a­tions,” he said. 

DiGio­van­ni praised Dr. Matthew McKen­zie, an NRDC sci­en­tist who devot­ed six months of full-time effort to build the tool. 

“This was a very labor-inten­sive, very time-con­sum­ing project on the part of NRDC, and at absolute­ly no cost to the Depart­ment of Defense,” DiGio­van­ni said. 

The DOD-NRDC part­ner­ship allowed both orga­ni­za­tions to work togeth­er toward a com­mon goal of pro­mot­ing renew­able ener­gy, he said. 

“This is a good mar­riage, because both of us had mis­sions where we want­ed to help the renew­able ener­gy indus­try move for­ward,” DiGio­van­ni said. “But we want­ed to do it in a way where it com­ple­ment­ed both of our mis­sions: NRDC’s, from an envi­ron­ment per­spec­tive, and DOD’s, with its mis­sion focus and envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship respect.” 

Defense lead­ers have called U.S. ener­gy depen­dence a nation­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenge and empha­sized the need for the Unit­ed States to become less depen­dent on import­ed fos­sil fuels. 

The READ data­base is avail­able through the NRDC website. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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