At regional to global scales, the effects of wind energy on the environment often are considered to be positive, through the production of renewable energy and the potential displacement of mining activities, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with nonrenewable energy sources (see Chapter 2). However, wind-energy facilities have been demonstrated to kill birds and bats and there is evidence that wind-energy development also can result in the loss of habitat for some species. To the extent that we understand how, when, and where wind-energy development most adversely affects organisms and their habitat, it will be possible to mitigate future impacts through careful siting decisions. In this chapter, we review the effects of wind-energy development on ecosystem structure and functioning, through direct effects of turbines on organisms, and on landscapes through alteration and displacement. We recommend a research and monitoring framework for reducing these impacts. Although the focus of our analysis is the Mid-Atlantic Highlands, we use all available information to assess general impacts. Although other sources of development on sites that are suitable for wind-energy development affect wildlife and their habitats (e.g., mineral extraction, cutting of timber), and there are other sources of anthropogenic mortality to animals, as stated previously, this committee was charged to focus on wind energy, and therefore did not conduct a comprehensive comparative analysis of impacts from other sources of development.
Chapter from the book Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects