US: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a major US environmental group, built the Renewable Energy and Defense (READ) Geospatial Database with cooperation from the Department of Defense (DOD), using publicly available information. The group aims to make it a useful tool for renewable energy developers to carry out “digital prospecting” of potential sites.
“As the US increases its share of renewable electricity, developers increasingly need to understand how the Department of Defense’s assets and activities affect potential sites,” said NRDC clean energy counsel Kit Kennedy.
Frank DiGiovanni, Director of training readiness and strategy in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, said the military is generally concerned about wind turbines conflicting with flight paths and other aviation training areas and practices, technological interference with radar and telecommunications systems, and safety and security issues that may arise if renewable energy projects are too close to dangerous or classified training operations. “This tool really will allow us to show developers as they go through their planning processes where the potential conflicts might be,” he added.
David Belote heads the DOD’s sitting clearinghouse, which reviews projects for conflicts with military installations and activities. He said that the READ Database will facilitate quicker communication between developers and the clearinghouse.
“It promises to allow developers to do their own fatal flaw analyses before we ever get to a point where I have to engage in an official DOD early consultation,” he explained. “I believe that developers will be able to save themselves lots of money [and] time.”
Kennedy positions the DOD’s participation in the effort in the broader context of the US military’s clean energy leadership. “Because the Department of Defense is both the nation’s largest energy consumer and one of its largest land holders, the department has a tremendous ability to shape both clean energy and land use policy here in the United States,” Kennedy observed.