Climate tech’s surprising bottleneck – land access

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There’s a bottleneck in climate tech that we don’t talk about enough: land availability. It’s a physical resource you need to support biomass, renewables, mineral mining, and other essential tools of decarbonization. So how much is enough, and where do we need it?

In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, managing director of research at Energy Impact Partners. Andy argues that land—geography, landscape and the rights to land—will be a common constraint among climatetech solutions as we reach gigaton-scale reductions of emissions.

Andy and Shayle survey the industries where the availability of land could play a critical role, exploring questions like:

  • How much land will we need for solar and wind power in deep decarbonization scenarios like the Net Zero America Study, and where? How does that amount of land change depending on siting, permitting and regulatory challenges of building transmission?
  • What about the “pores” of underground space needed for carbon sequestration and hydrogen storage? For technologies that require both land for renewables and underground storage for carbon sequestration, like Direct Air Capture, where do those locations overlap?
  • Could we see a run on waste biomass, given the tight supply of arable land suitable for producing new biomass?
  • Where will access to land constrain supply of metals needed for batteries and infrastructure?

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