Featured Reports: Wind, Wildlife, Environment

Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. (2007). Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects.

Environmental Law Institute. (2013). Siting Wind Energy Facilities – What Do Local Elected Officials Need to Know?

This guide aids local officials in understanding commercial-scale wind siting, providing a few paragraphs on topics such as wind facility location; site safety and security; setbacks from property lines and buildings; shadow flicker; electromagnetic interference; decommissioning; and visual, sound, road, and wildlife impacts.

Environmental Law Institute. The May 2011 report State Enabling Legislation for Commercial-Scale Wind Power Siting and the Local Government Role reveals that local governments play a major role in siting decisions in 48 of the 50 states. Even in states with state siting boards and commissions, local government regulations and land use decisions can affect the feasibility of wind power projects. The report found that states can define the scope and limits to local government siting regulations and that state standards can assist in ensuring that the relevant environmental and safety issues are properly addressed.

Kiesecker, J.M.; Evans, J.S.; Fargione, J.; Doherty, K.; Foresman, K.R.; et al. (2011). Win-Win for Wind and Wildlife: A Vision to Facilitate Sustainable Development. PLoS ONE 6(4): e17566. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017566.

This study examines patterns of wind energy potential in terrestrial landscapes that are already disturbed by human activities (e.g., agriculture, oil and gas development). Although other studies have estimated the total amount of potential wind-energy production available in the United States and globally, this is the first to examine if renewable energy goals can be met on disturbed lands that could reduce conflict with wildlife. The goal is to estimate the potential electricity generation capacity of lands of low value for biodiversity conservation rather than estimate impacts associated with wind farms and associated transmission.

National Wind Coordinating Collaborative. (updated November 2011). Comprehensive Guide to Studying Wind Energy/Wildlife Interactions

This resource document of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative’s Wildlife Workgroup is a guide for persons involved in designing, conducting, or requiring wind energy/wildlife interaction studies. The document follows a general framework for progressing through the decision process for a proposed wind project and a guide to methods and metrics for use in the necessary studies. The guide is relevant to the study of any wildlife species, although the focus is on birds and bats.

U.S. Department of Energy. (2013). U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather (PDF 4.3 MB)

Extreme weather trends are expected to continue and could restrict the supply of secure, sustainable, and affordable energy critical to the nation’s economic growth. At least three major climate trends are relevant to the energy sector: increasing air and water temperatures; decreasing water availability in some regions and seasons; and increasing intensity and frequency of storm events, flooding, and sea level rise. This report, part of the Administration’s efforts to support national climate change adaptation planning and to advance the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of promoting energy security, examines current and potential future impacts of these climate trends on the U.S. energy sector. It identifies activities underway to address these challenges and discusses potential opportunities to enhance energy technologies that are more climate-resilient, as well as information, stakeholder engagement, and policies and strategies to further enable their deployment. You can also explore an interactive map that shows where climate change has already impacted the energy sector.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

These guidelines are designed to provide federal and state agencies, developers, and consultants with a process for planning, operating, and monitoring wind energy facilities that minimize impacts to birds, bats, and other wildlife. The agency also offers Federal & State Wind Energy Siting Guidelines.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2005). WIND POWER Impacts on Wildlife and Government Responsibilities for Regulating Development and Protecting Wildlife (PDF 1.68 MB)

As part of this report, GAO assessed (1) what available studies and experts have reported about the impacts of wind power facilities on wildlife in the United States and what can be done to mitigate or prevent such impacts, (2) the roles and responsibilities of government agencies in regulating wind power facilities, and (3) the roles and responsibilities of government agencies in protecting wildlife. GAO reviewed a sample of six states with wind power development for this report.

Western Resource Advocates. A Powerful Thirst: Managing the Electricity Sector’s Water Needs and the Risk of Drought (PDF 1.2 MB)

The worldwide wind resource overlaps heavily with drought belts, both present and projected under climate change. The report notes: “Texas’ wind generation — which uses no water — may have mitigated the impacts of drought on the power sector. Texas has more than 10,000 MW of wind capacity, a portion of which was generating energy when demands peaked (and thermoelectric cooling supplies were severely depleted) in August 2011.”

Wind-Wildlife Impacts Literature Database (WILD)

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center maintains WILD, a searchable bibliographic database of documents that focuses on the effects of wind energy development on wildlife and includes contributions from around the world. The database includes documents from journal articles, conference proceedings, government publications, books, and utility company reports. WILD is searchable by parameters such as keyword, title, author, and publication date.