The United States has abundant wind resources, such that only about 3% of the resource would need to be developed to achieve the goal of producing 20% of electricity in the United States by 2030. Inappropriately sited wind development may result in conflicts with wildlife that can delay or derail development projects, increase projects costs, and may degrade important conservation values. The most cost-effective approach to reducing such conflicts is through landscape-scale siting early in project development. To support landscape scale siting that avoids sensitive areas for wildlife, we compiled a database on species distributions, wind resource, disturbed areas, and land ownership. Wind project developers can use this web tool to identify potentially sensitive areas and areas that are already disturbed and are therefore likely to be less sensitive to additional impacts from wind development. The United States goal of producing 20% of its electricity from wind energy by the year 2030 would require 241 GW of terrestrial nameplate capacity. We analyzed whether this goal could be met by using lands that are already disturbed, which would minimize impacts to wildlife. Our research shows that over 14 times the DOE goal could be produced on lands that are already disturbed (primarily cropland and oil and gas fields), after taking into account wind resource availability and areas that would be precluded from wind development because of existing urban development or because of development restrictions. Even projects that are sited appropriately may have some impacts on wildlife habitat that can be offset with offsite compensatory mitigation. We demonstrate one approach to mapping and quantifying mitigation costs, using the state of Kansas as a case study. Our approach considers a range of conservation targets (species and habitat) and calculates mitigation costs based on actual costs of the conservation actions (protection and restoration) that would be needed to fully offset impacts.
Energy By Design: Science-Based Wind Energy Siting to Avoid Environmental Impact In the Continental United States
Title: Energy By Design: Science-Based Wind Energy Siting to Avoid Environmental Impact In the Continental United States
February 24, 2012
Document Number: DOE/EE0000528-1
Fargione, J. (2012). Energy By Design: Science-Based Wind Energy Siting to Avoid Environmental Impact In the Continental United States. Report by The Nature Conservancy. pp 33.