A Brighter Future with the Right Renewables in the Right Places

Posted on September, 06 2021

References and methods for the WWF/TNC microsite on the renewable revolution
In September 2021, WWF and TNC launched A Brighter Future microsite, outlining how we can tackle the climate crisis while protecting nature by investing in the right renewables in the right places.

The interactive site outlines the challenges we face in tackling the world's two fundamental crises - climate change and nature loss. And shows that we can now meet global climate and energy goals without harming communities, sacrificing our remaining free flowing rivers, and driving greater nature loss.

As the microsite shows, countries can now develop power grids that are LowCx3 - low carbon, low cost and low conflict with communities, rivers and nature.

But we all have our parts to play.

Explore A Brighter Future to find out more. And for those who want to dive even deeper into the science and research, you can find all the key references below:
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Rather than weigh the microsite down with references, we decided to make a full list of references and methods available here:
  • Much of the data and analyses from the microsite “A Brighter Future” are available in the report Connected and Flowing: A renewable future for rivers, climate and people.
  • The forecast for a global energy mix consistent with the 1.5 degree target (including the projection of hydropower in 2050) comes from the 2021 report from the International Energy Agency, “Net Zero by 2050.”
  • Challenges with siting of wind projects can increase time and costs: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 2016. An initial evaluation of siting considerations on current and future wind deployment and The Nature Conservancy. 2019. Green Light Study: economic and conservation benefits of low-impact solar siting in California.
  • Information on global fisheries and fish biodiversity can be found in the 2021 WWF report “Forgotten Fishes."
  • 500 million people live on deltas: Syvitski, J.P., Kettner, A.J., Overeem, I., Hutton, E.W., Hannon, M.T., Brakenridge, G.R., Day, J., Vörösmarty, C., Saito, Y., Giosan, L. and Nicholls, R.J., 2009. Sinking deltas due to human activities. Nature Geoscience, 2(10), pp.681-686.
  • Dorado catfish migrates over 5,000 km: Barthem et al. 2017. Goliath catfish spawning in the far western Amazon confirmed by the distribution of mature adults, drifting larvae and migrating juveniles. Scientific Reports 7: 41784.
  • Fish consumption in the Amazon: Begossi et al. 2019. Fish consumption on the Amazon: a review of biodiversity, hydropower and food security issues. Braz. J. Biol. 79 (2)
  • Data on free-flowing rivers: Grill, G.et al. 2019. Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers. Nature, 569(7755), pp.215-221.
  • 84% decline of populations of vertebrates that depend on freshwater: WWF. 2020. The Living Planet Report.
  • Data on proposed and/or potential future hydropower dams comes from Zarfl, C., Lumsdon, A.E., Berlekamp, J., Tydecks, L. and Tockner, K., 2015. A global boom in hydropower dam construction. Aquatic Sciences, 77(1), pp.161-170.
  • Potential impacts of future hydropower on free-flowing rivers: Thieme, M. L., Tickner, D., Grill, G., Carvallo, J. P., Goichot, M., Hartmann, J., ... & Opperman, J. (2021). Navigating trade-offs between dams and river conservation. Global Sustainability, 4.
  • Examples of tools for planning of low-conflict siting of renewables:

    Site Wind Right from The Nature Conservancy
    “Habitat-friendly renewable energy tool” from WWF-Canada
  • Global potential for low-conflict renewable energy:

    152,000 TWh per year of wind and solar available on low conflict sites: Baruch-Mordo, S., Kiesecker, J.M., Kennedy, C.M., Oakleaf, J.R. and Opperman, J.J., 2019. From Paris to practice: sustainable implementation of renewable energy goals. Environmental Research Letters, 14(2), p.024013.

    47,000 TWh per year of wind and solar are needed for the IEA forecast for a power system consistent with the 1.5 degree climate goal (IEA. 2021. Net Zero by 2050).

    Thieme et al. (2021) calculated that the dams proposed on free-flowing rivers could generate approximately 1100 TWh per year.  This is 1.7% of the 62,000 TWh needed from all renewable sources in the IEA study “Net Zero by 2050.”  The 62,000 TWh includes the 47,000 TWh from new wind and solar cited above along with a projected increase of 4,000 TWh from new hydropower (and other sources).  Of the projected 4,000 TWh of new hydropower, 1100 TWh of that are proposed for free-flowing rivers. 
  • Data on costs for renewable energy technologies comes from the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA). 2021. Renewable power generation costs in 2020.
  • The ability of countries to meet future energy demands with grids that are LowCx3 was explored in the report Connected and Flowing: A renewable future for rivers, climate and people.
Introduction to A Brighter Future microsite from WWF & TNC
Wind power
© Global Warming Images / WWF
Introduction to A Brighter Future microsite from WWF & TNC
Wildflowers and a photo voltaic solar power station near Lucainena de las Torres, Andalucia, Spain
© Global Warming Images / WWF