Green Civil War in the California Desert: The Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Project (2014-11)

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Jan 02, 2015
Dustin Mulvaney

In this assignment students develop an understanding of real world challenges and controversies over siting renewable energy projects.  The case is about a controversial wind farm in California’s Colorado Desert that would deliver electricity to metropolitan San Diego.  Some stakeholders involved in the process see this as an ideal site to decarbonize electricity.  Others have come to understand the wind energy farm as a severe ecological impact on a site rich in biodiversity and wildlife.  Students will recreate this wind farm controversy to understand the natural resources at stake and multiple stakeholder perspectives.  In addition to the in-class activities and assignments, students write about proposed solutions to the challenges associated with siting renewable energy projects.

Estimated time frame: 
A few class periods
SES learning goals: 
  • Understand the structure and behavior of socio-environmental systems
  • Consider the importance of scale and context in addressing socio-environmental problems
  • Co-develop research questions and conceptual models in inter- or trans-disciplinary teams
  • Find, analyze, and synthesize existing data, concepts, or methods
Has this been tested in the class room: 
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