Impact of Siting Ordinances on Land Availability for Wind and Solar Development

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4 Scopus Citations


In the United States, many siting regulations for wind and solar developments are created at the county or township level. Here we survey local zoning ordinances across the contiguous United States to understand the types and frequency of ordinances that might impact wind and solar development. We identify over 1,800 ordinances for wind and more than 800 ordinances for solar in 2022. To understand the impact of ordinances on anticipated land availability, we use spatial modelling on the setbacks specified in the ordinances. Extrapolating the setbacks throughout the country can reduce wind and solar resources by up to 87% and 38%, respectively, depending on the size of the setbacks applied. These results indicate the importance of capturing setback ordinances in resources assessments so as to not overstate resource potential, especially when considering highly decarbonized futures.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1034-1043
Number of pages10
JournalNature Energy
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A40-84862


  • county
  • land-use
  • ordinances
  • photovoltaic
  • siting
  • solar
  • wind


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