If you have ever driven by a coal or natural gas power plant you see how much land it takes up.

Typically it's about 640 archers or less.

If you drive by a wind or solar farm you'll notice the farm takes up far more land.

Wash Post: ‘Large-scale wind & solar farms require at least 10 times as much land per unit as coal- & natural gas-fired power plants’

It takes about 350 wind turbines are required to replace a coal generation plant, according to recent studies.

This becomes a problem for birds and migrating animals.

Wildlife in states like Wyoming depends on that open land to move, feed, water, and breed.

WaPo: America's energy transition hinges on decisions about land use, report says. There’s an often-overlooked aspect of America’s energy transition: It will require a lot of land. That means decisions about land use could have a profound impact on the speed and scale of the nation’s shift to clean energy, according to an analysis shared first with The Climate 202 by the ICF Climate Center, a climate research group within global consulting firm ICF.

Dave Johnston Power Plant. Rocky Mountain Power
Dave Johnston Power Plant. Rocky Mountain Power

We should also look at how sprawling wind and solar farms will affect natural water flow.

Western states are high and dry. They need all the water they can get.

With more wind farms being built, and solar farms proposed for western states like Wyoming, natural water flow across open land will be greatly affected.

That's 10 times as much land per unit as coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, including the land used to produce and transport organic fuels, like coal, gas, and oil.

Another problem is that only a fraction of all land is suitable for development.

Solar panels have to be on the right slope, and out in the open.

George Frey/Getty Images
George Frey/Getty Images

Wind farms must consider the flow of air over the area to find a suitable place.

Once placed those wind turbines disrupt that natural air flow.

Some areas might be home to an endangered species that development could doom. Though wind and solar usually get a permit to proceed in these areas anyway, where coal, gas, and oil would be denied.

Imagine, rather than having a few small areas producing a lot of energy, we now have wind and solar farms across the western landscape, as far as the eye can see.

This is beginning to raise questions among officials in Western states about which is better for the environment in their state, and the region.

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