Environmental Impacts and Siting of Wind Projects
Environmental Impacts and Siting Resources
The following resources contain additional information about environmental impacts and siting.
For a summary of the current state of research on wind-wildlife interactions, see Wind Turbine Interactions with Birds, Bats, and their Habitats.
For a quick overview of environmental and human risks related to wind energy development, see the Chapter 5 Summary Slides of the 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report.
The Wind Program works to remove barriers to wind power deployment and to increase the acceptance of wind power technologies by addressing siting and environmental issues. Wind power is a renewable, low-carbon footprint energy supply option. When properly sited, wind projects provide a net environmental benefit to the communities in which they operate and to the nation overall.
As with all energy supply options, wind energy can have adverse environmental impacts. Wind projects have the potential to reduce, fragment, or degrade habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Turbine blades and towers can pose a threat to flying wildlife such as birds and bats. To understand how to avoid, minimize, and mitigate these impacts in a cost-effective manner, the program has invested in peer-reviewed research for over 15 years, primarily through collaborative partnerships with the wind industry and environmental organizations, such as the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, the Grassland and Shrub-Steppe Species Collaborative, and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative. In May 2009, the program announced nearly $2 million in environmental research grants aimed at reducing the risks to key species and habitats from wind power developments.
The program also works with other federal agencies to develop guidelines that enable developers to meet the statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements for protecting wildlife, national security, and public safety. For example, the program works with the Department of the Interior to develop wildlife siting guidelines and is involved in interagency efforts to address the potential impacts of operating wind turbines on defense and civilian radar systems.
In addition to environmental issues, there are several human risks that the program works to mitigate, including potential visual impacts for both land-based and offshore developments, property values, and impacts on competing uses, such as recreation and fisheries.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory maintains Tethys, a database and knowledge management system that provides access to information and research about the potential environmental effects of offshore wind and marine and hydrokinetic development.