Published In

Energy Research & Social Science

Document Type


Publication Date



Urban community development, Conservation


Governments, utilities, and energy companies are increasingly looking towards energy storage technologies to extend the availability of variable renewable power sources such as solar and wind. In this Perspective, we examine these fast-shifting developments by mapping and analyzing landscapes of renewable energy storage emerging across the Western United States. We focus on the rollout of several interrelated leading technologies: utility-scale lithium-ion batteries, supported by increasing regional lithium mining, and proposals for new pumped storage hydropower. Drawing on critical resource geography, we examine energy storage as both a component of renewable transition and as its own driver of landscape transformation, resource extraction, and conflict. By mapping and interpreting emerging Western landscapes, we show that leading energy storage technologies and the materials needed to make them can require extensive surficial land use and have significant regional water impacts, and that they are generating opposition from groups concerned about environmental degradation and (in)justice. We propose an agenda for future research on energy storage aimed at rendering its development more socio-ecologically beneficial and just.


© 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Energy Research & Social Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Energy Research & Social Science.



Persistent Identifier

Included in

Geography Commons