Improving Renewable Siting

Windmills at sunset

The world confronts a set of intertwined challenges: maintaining a stable climate, delivering energy to support equitable and prosperous societies, and protecting healthy ecosystems. A dramatic expansion of renewable sources of electricity—such as wind, solar, and hydropower—is urgently required to meet goals for climate-safe and abundant electricity, but this transition must happen in a way that does not negatively impact our communities or harm lands and waters. Negative impacts could include the loss of healthy rivers and floodplains to hydropower dams and the conversion or degradation of important habitats to wind and solar expansion and transmission lines.

WWF scientists and partners are conducting research to identify pathways to solve these challenges simultaneously through policies and practices that meet urgent climate goals while minimizing negative impacts to social and environmental resources. Because negative impacts on communities and ecosystems can lead to conflicts that slow or prevent renewable energy projects, these solutions are not just important for safeguarding other values, they are also crucial to addressing the climate crisis.

What WWF Is Doing

WWF’s research program asks a basic question: how can the world achieve its objectives for decarbonizing energy systems—crucial for stabilizing the climate—without degrading other valued resources? Effectively addressing this question will contribute to two critical outcomes: protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services from unintended side effects of the urgent transition to renewable energy; and meeting climate targets by promoting the rapid, but responsible siting and scaling of renewable energy.

A Brighter Future

WWF and The Nature Conservancy conducted research and analysis which demonstrates how countries can develop power grids that are LowCx3—low carbon, low cost, and low conflict with communities, rivers, and nature. Learn about the references and methods used here, including the report Connected and Flowing, which offers a global vision of LowCx3 power systems. A recent paper published in Frontiers of Environmental Science further explores how system planning can support sustainable expansion of low-carbon power systems.


Formed with multiple partners, The Coalition Linking Energy And Nature for action (CLEANaction) is a partnership to protect nature during the energy transition. WWF Science is supporting CleanAction through research that informs its policy and advocacy actions.