Wind farm development can be powerful, as long as proper design is implemented

Oct 26, 2011

Wind energy helps alleviate some of the environmental concerns about burning fossil fuels, but wind farms also introduce their own problems related to wildlife conservation, including habitat loss and mortality to birds and bats. With proper planning and design, though, wind energy production can address ecological concerns and still achieve development goals, according to a study published in the Oct. 26 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

The work, led by The Nature Conservancy's Kansas chapter, reports an analysis of wildlife sensitivities in Kansas, describing how wind development could proceed while still meeting conservation goals for no-net-loss of wildlife.

The researchers identified areas that should be avoided to protect unique habitats and wildlife populations (such as prairie-chickens and the whooping crane), and quantified the level of "offset projects" that would be required to make up for any ecological effects of development in the remaining area. The resulting proposal suggests that approximately 10 million hectares (about 50% of the state) could be developed for wind energy, potentially producing up to 478 of energy, while still meeting conservation goals.

According to the authors, "wind energy can be developed in a way that is compatible with wildlife. Even after avoiding critical habitats, there are tens of millions of acres in Kansas suitable for wind energy". Such wildlife-friendly wind development could produce enough energy to far exceed the goal of producing 20% of the United States' energy from wind power by 2030.

Explore further: Team improves solar-cell efficiency

More information: Obermeyer B, Manes R, Kiesecker J, Fargione J, Sochi K (2011) Development by Design: Mitigating Wind Development's Impacts on Wildlife in Kansas. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026698

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wind turbines hazardous to birds, bats

Nov 13, 2007

Wind energy, a fast-growing sector of the U.S. energy industry, is taking a toll on nocturnal wildlife caught in the turbines, officials said.

Engineer aims to regulate varying wind power

Oct 19, 2007

As Texas' electric grid operator prepares to add power lines for carrying future wind-generated energy, an electrical engineer at The University of Texas at Austin is developing improved methods for determining ...

Wind power in Spain reaches historic high

Mar 31, 2011

Wind power became Spain's main source of electricity for the first time ever this month, in a country renowned for its focus on renewable energy, the power-generating authority REE said Thursday.

Tilting at wind farms

Jan 07, 2009

A way to make wind power smoother and more efficient that exploits the inertia of a wind turbine rotor could help solve the problem of wind speed variation, according to research published in the International Journal of ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

5 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

5 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

12 hours ago

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 0