About this Dashboard

This dashboard presents an estimate of current renewable energy production on reservations in the contiguous US from wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal commercial plants and from household solar installations. The map shows the variation across reservations in combined output, and the chart below shows how much is produced by each source type on each individual reservation.

Native Land Areas
Years of Coverage
Data Visualizations
Possible Visualizations

About the Data

Data for this dashboard comes from combined sources: 1) The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Biofuel Atlas 2019, which shows operable electric generating plants for biomass, wind, solar and geothermal sources sourced from the Energy Information Administration, 2017 and 2) “Tracking the Sun”; a 2020 dataset from Berkeley Lab which contains the record of 1.6 million residential solar installations in the US, or 81% of the total number of installations, which we geolocated and selected for all reservations. Combining these data sources ensured that this dashboard presents the most up-to-date available information about nationwide commercial and residential renewable energy production for conterminous US native lands.

Why is this Data and Dashboard Important?

At a time where a massive shift in energy production away from fossil fuels is happening to help mitigate climate change and respond to energy demands, native lands are often left out of the conversation. Historically, data for energy production for native lands has been produced by mining companies and external entities looking to profit from exploiting native lands.

In the meantime, sovereign energy production and demand is not considered a pressing public issue, while in some reservations, tribal members struggle to access reliable electricity sources or ways to heat their homes. As an answer to these drastic issues, innovative companies such as Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have been working hard to develop solar heating technologies and knowledge transfer to the youth across several reservations. But the road is long and the information so crucial to inform tribal decision-making is often sporadic, especially when tribes have to rely on federal agencies to deliver this information.

This dashboard is unique in that it combines the best publicly available data into one interactive dashboard to assess the current state of renewable energy production on US native lands, and can be filtered down to each available reservation in the dataset for better energy planning. This information can assist tribal leaders in knowing where they currently stand in terms of energy production. Combined with data on energy production potential, it can be used to make sovereign decisions about what sector of renewable energy needs further development.(LSE


Similarly to all the dashboards published on our site, the data is sourced from already published and publicly available datasources. This means that while inheriting the information present in these datasets, we also inherit their drawbacks and methodological choices, even when they are not the best suited for tribal geographies. While this dataset comes from a combination of two datasets from the reliable NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and the Berkeley national repository for individual solar installations, it remains a nationwide dataset and as such, may have missed producing plants and installations. For instance, private solar heating installations such as the ones mentioned earlier from LSE would not show up in this data. Similarly, only solar panels are represented in the Berkeley datasets, which means that other individual private renewable energy sources are not features here, and there are no publicly available datasets out there which could comprehensively gather all these. Despite these limitations, this dashboard remains the most up-to-date and complete information about current renewable energy production on US Native Lands, which can assist sovereign tribal energy decision-making.

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