Acceptance of wind energy development worldwide is challenged by stakeholders’ concerns about potential effects on the environment, specifically on wildlife such as birds, bats, and (for offshore wind) marine animals, and the habitats that support them. Other issues of concern to communities near wind energy developments include social and economic impacts, as well as impacts on cultural and social values such as aesthetics, historical sites, and recreational and tourism. Lack of a systematic, widely accepted, and balanced approach for measuring the potential damage to wildlife, habitats, and communities continues to leave wind developers, regulators, and other stakeholders in an uncertain position. This uncertainty may lead to regulatory requirements for studies and monitoring programs that do not necessarily contribute to improved environmental protection. Regulatory requirements and data collection efforts around wind farms during construction, operation, and other project phases need to be more consistently linked to the actual risk posed to a range of animals and habitats. One such approach to accomplishing this linkage is risk-based management (RBM), which may provide value-added as a decision support system.
This paper explores the use of ecological RBM in wind energy development for land-based and offshore wind installations. The application of risk as a development and management tool is addressed, including multiple aspects of project risk, many of which are driven by or associated with ecological risk. The nature of how risk is taken into account in consenting/permitting wind projects on land and at sea are reviewed, and a series of risk management tools and approaches surveyed. This paper also explores the adaptation of ecosystem-based management to wind energy development through a series of case studies, and sets forth a framework and best management practices for applying risk-based principles to wind energy.
The analysis and review of RBM approaches presented in this paper may provide helpful insights for improved siting and consenting/permitting processes for regulators and their advisors, particularly in nations where wind energy is still in the early development stages on land and at sea. Wind project developers may benefit from understanding how regulators may approach consenting/permitting. Policymakers may gain valuable insights into how wind farm development might be managed in future. Researchers and consultants may benefit from the concepts and suggestions that will improve access to insightful monitoring data from wind farms and will help to direct future data collection efforts.
View the Risk-Based Management Factsheet.