Geothermal Power and BirdsGeothermal Power and Birds

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Geothermal power is an important source of renewable, carbon-free energy that is critical to replacing and reducing emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas that causing the warming of our planet.

Audubon strongly supports geothermal energy that is sited and operated properly to avoid, minimize, and mitigate effectively for the impacts on birds, other wildlife, and the places they need now and in the future.Audubonsupports the development of geothermal energy to achieve 100% clean electricity.

Why does Audubon support properly sited geothermal power?

While geothermal may be one of the less talked about sources of renewable energy, it remains one of the best for birds. Geothermal energy is produced by tapping into the earth’s heat where the molten rock is closest to the surface. The heat is then used to turn water into steam, which spins a turbine to generate the electricity. Unlike wind and solar, geothermal plants don’t need to take up much land, which means that geothermal can viably replace traditional power sources like natural gas and coal.

Additionally, since geothermal is inherently in very hot, less inhabitable locations, geothermal power plants are unlikely to disrupt habitat. In fact, geothermal can be placed on uneven desert land where solar would be much more challenging to install. And geothermal plants employ a lot of people. It’s an ecological, economical win.While geothermal isn’t possible everywhere, there are abundant resources in the western United States. As of 2019, geothermal energy made up just about 0.4% of US utility-scale electricity generation, with over 70% concentrated in California, and over 23% in Nevada.

What risk does geothermal energy pose to birds?

While all types of energy development have an impact on the surrounding land, the small footprint of geothermal energy makes it less risky to birds. The effect on a specific habitat should be examined on a case-by-case basis and altered to minimize impact when necessary.

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