EDF Renewable Energy
At a Glance
Energy or Utility
Clean and Renewable Energy, Engagement and Behavior Change
San Diego, CA
Sokanha spent 12-week with EDF-R as the company’s first EDF Climate Corp Fellow, where she worked on researching one of the company’s primary challenges in the grid-scale project development space – community opposition toward solar development.
The goal of the fellowship project was to identify trends related to community opposition toward utility-scale solar projects across Midwestern United States, inclusive of 11 states and 28 counties that represent 7.4 GW of capacity. Direct and indirect sources of opposition were identified, accompanied by an analysis of associated root causes. The project also aimed to develop strategies for new solar project development based off aforementioned analysis, to better predict, as well as manage community opposition.
To understand community sentiment across current solar projects, a conflict source matrix was distributed to internal project developers at EDF-R. Upon completion, this qualitative information was converted to qualitative data for further analysis. Two models were subsequently built to assist with analysis – a direct source model and an indirect source model. The direct source model can be used to inform strategies to overcome these threats by way of various community engagement activities, as well as internal strategies, to directly respond to increased organized opposition groups. The indirect source model allowed for a machine learning model to be built, based on demographic factors and other key community data points identified through data collecting. This will be used to predict the magnitude of opposition, and, in turn, project sizing and a tailored community engagement strategy.
Utility-scale solar project development is capital-intensive, time-consuming endeavor, but, when successful, can yield significant return on investment. The presence of strong opposition, itself, has the capability to significantly delay, or even terminate projects. Noting this, the fellowship project recommendations has to potential to assist EDF-R in de-risking solar projects, by providing pertinent community opposition-related data during new development, as well as corresponding community engagement strategies, to better guarantee successful projects.