Study points to clean energy potential in tribal lands

25/03/2010 at 2:13 pm Leave a comment

A new report from the National Wildlife Federation has highlighted the “significant” benefits that renewable energy projects offer tribal communities in the US.

Tribal households pay disproportionately more for their energy than comparable homes in the US, and are also facing more impacts from climate change.

But with tribal lands covering 5% of the US – and holding 10% of American renewable energy resources – the report suggests that a new clean energy economy could be fostered in reservations.

However, the report points out that barriers stand in the way of tribal renewable energy projects, including a lack of funding and federal support.

Access to transmission lines is also difficult in remote areas where 14% of households on reservations don’t even have access to electricity.

Several pilot projects are underway across the country, but tribal projects have been excluded from some key Recovery Act support measures, the report claims.

The report, entitled The New Energy Future in Indian Country: Confronting Climate Change, Creating Jobs, and Conserving Nature, was produced in collaboration with the National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Rights Fund, and the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy.

Steve Torbit, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center and Tribal Lands Conservation Program, said: “With our partners, we developed this report to showcase the tremendous opportunities tribes have to implement renewable energy, energy efficiency, and participate in the green economy, while protecting their natural resource heritage.”


In particular, the report points out that the 95 million acres of tribal lands could generate 17,600 billion kilowatt-hours of solar power a year in theory.

This would power the entire United States more than four times over.


we developed this report to showcase the tremendous opportunities tribes have to implement renewable energy” – Steve Torbit, NWF

As well as solar power potential, the report highlights the potential for wind energy to bring opportunities for Native American tribes.

Small turbines offer power for remote communities for individual applications, but tribal lands particularly in the Great Plains and Alaska offer “high potential” for utility-scale wind farms.

Some 77 reservations could support viable wind-based economies, with estimates that tribal lands could generate 14% of the nation’s energy needs through wind projects.

The report also highlights good potential for geothermal projects and biomass energy generation in tribal lands.


Entry filed under: First Nations, Renewable Energy.

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