Wind energy offers the potential to reduce carbon emissions while increasing energy independence and bolstering economic development. However, wind energy has a larger land footprint per Gigawatt (GW) than most other forms of energy production and has known and predicted adverse effects on wildlife. The Northern Great Plains (NGP) is home both to some of the world’s best wind resources and to remaining temperate grasslands, the most converted and least protected ecological system on the planet. Thus, appropriate siting and mitigation of wind development is particularly important in this region. Steering energy development to disturbed lands with low wildlife value rather than placing new developments within large and intact habitats would reduce impacts to wildlife. Goals for wind energy development in the NGP are roughly 30 GW of nameplate capacity by 2030. Our analyses demonstrate that there are large areas where wind development would likely have few additional impacts on wildlife. We estimate there are ~1,056 GW of potential wind energy available across the NGP on areas likely to have low-impact for biodiversity, over 35 times development goals. New policies and approaches will be required to guide wind energy development to low-impact areas.
Wind and Wildlife in the Northern Great Plains: Identifying Low-Impact Areas for Wind Development
Title: Wind and Wildlife in the Northern Great Plains: Identifying Low-Impact Areas for Wind Development
July 25, 2012
Journal: Plos One
Publisher: Plos One
Fargione, J.; Kiesecker, J.; Slaats, M.; Olimb, S. (2012). Wind and Wildlife in the Northern Great Plains: Identifying Low-Impact Areas for Wind Development. Plos One, 7(7), 1-14.