A substantial increase in wind energy deployment worldwide is required to help achieve international targets for decreasing global carbon emissions and limiting the impacts of climate change. In response to global concerns regarding the environmental effects of wind energy, the International Energy Agency Wind Technical Collaborative Program initiated Task 34 – Working Together to Resolve Environmental Effects of Wind Energy or WREN. As part of WREN, this study performed an international assessment with the global wind energy and environmental community to determine priority environmental issues over the next 5‒10 years and help support collaborative interactions among researchers, developers, regulators, and stakeholders.
A systematic assessment was performed using feedback from the international community to identify priority environmental issues for land-based and offshore wind energy development. Given the global nature of wind energy development, feedback was of interest from all countries where such development is underway or planned to help meet United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change targets. The assessment prioritized environmental issues over the next 5–10 years associated with wind energy development and received a total of 294 responses from 28 countries. For land-based wind, the highest-ranked issues included turbine collision risk for volant species (birds and bats), cumulative effects on species and ecosystems, and indirect effects such as avoidance and displacement. For offshore wind, the highest-ranked issues included cumulative effects, turbine collision risk, underwater noise (e.g. marine mammals and fish), and displacement. Emerging considerations for these priorities include potential application to future technologies (e.g. larger turbines and floating turbines), new stressors and species in frontier regions, and cumulative effects for multiple projects at a regional scale. For both land-based and offshore wind, effectiveness of minimization measures (e.g. detection and deterrence technologies) and costs for monitoring, minimization, and mitigation were identified as overarching challenges.