Comparing the Ecological Impacts of Wind and Oil and Gas Development: A Landscape Scale Assessment

Journal Article

Title: Comparing the Ecological Impacts of Wind and Oil and Gas Development: A Landscape Scale Assessment
Publication Date:
November 27, 2013
Journal: Plos One
Volume: 8
Issue: 11
Pages: 1-12
Publisher: Plos One
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Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(1 MB)

Citation

Jones, N.; Pejchar, L. (2013). Comparing the Ecological Impacts of Wind and Oil and Gas Development: A Landscape Scale Assessment. Plos One, 8(11), 1-12.
Abstract: 

Global changes in energy production are occurring as a result of increased demand for clean, cheap, and domestic power coupled with rising consumption and a finite supply of fossil fuels. Wind energy is at the forefront of this transformation and is now the world’s fastest growing source of electricity. This trend is driven in part by goals such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) intent to achieve 20% of electrical power from wind by the year 2030. The benefits of wind energy include low lifecycle emissions of greenhouse gases, which support the perception that wind is a ‘clean’ alternative to fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. However, focusing on emissions alone ignores the impacts of ‘energy sprawl’, or the increasing amount of land altered for energy production. The land-use required for energy production is predicted to grow rapidly with human population growth. However, existing estimates are variable and highly dependent on evolving technologies. The degree to which wind energy and traditional sources of energy (e.g. oil and natural gas) result in negative impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services is not well understood. Empirical research on the impacts of energy sprawl on biodiversity and ecosystem services is scarce, inconsistent, and unevenly distributed among energy types and faunal groups. Most literature on the impacts of wind development focuses on avian and bat collisions with wind turbines. Literature on the impacts of oil and gas development in western North America has focused largely on habitat degradation impacts to only a few species of concern: primarily sagebrush or grassland obligates and ungulates. The impacts of energy development on other important characteristics of the natural and built landscape, such as invasive species, carbon storage and sequestration, and water resources are of great concern to society, but have received very little attention in the literature.

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