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"Solar panels could conflict with urban trees, says expert at Portland ecology meeting"

Solar energy, despite its popularity as an environmentally friendly resource, could cost urban areas another renewable resource: trees. At the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting in Portland today, Dan Staley explained the potential conflict between urban solar installations and nearby trees.

"Solar panels could conflict with urban trees, says expert at Portland ecology meeting"

Courtesy, Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian. Placement in solar panel installation is crucial to maximize your particular system.

BY:  Ian C. Campbell

OregonLive.com

>>Click here to view the original article

Solar energy, despite its popularity as an environmentally friendly resource, could cost urban areas another renewable resource: trees. At the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting in Portland today, Dan Staley explained the potential conflict between urban solar installations and nearby trees. 


For solar panels to cost-effectively generate electricity for their owners, the panels need solar exposure between about 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Staley said that in some countries, citizens have a "right to light," meaning neighbors cannot plant trees or build structures that might shade property. Particularly in colder climates, sunlight is critical for heating. In the United States, however, no such right is guaranteed. 


Instead, neighborhoods need to develop building plans to minimize conflicts between neighbors. Staley said that by 2050, researchers anticipate that more than half of all buildings will have been built since the year 2000. Therefore, he said careful planning is important to ensure compatibility between solar panels and urban trees. With trees, "mistakes take a long time to become apparent," he told attendees. Ecology experts from around the world are in Portland for the conference, which lasts through Friday. 


Neighborhoods can use techniques like covenants to set planting guidelines. He said that guidelines need to be developed locally because of differences in climate and position of the sun in the sky. By carefully planning for future solar installations, he said, it's possible to facilitate renewable energy while maintaining curb appeal. 

 

 
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