Ecological Aspects - Wind Energy
Wind energy clearly has many ecological impacts. On one hand, it contributes to climate protection and can prevent environmental damages (caused by burning fossil fuels) while on other hand, it can raise environmental concerns as highlighted below. Therefore, it is higly important to conduct a detail ecological impact assessment before starting the wind energy projects.
The impact of wind energy projects on land use depends on the site: wind turbines on flat land occupy more land as compared to the one placed on hilly areas and offshore wind turbines occupy more space than land based wind turbines as the turbines and blades of offshore wind energy projects are bigger.
According to a survey by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "Large wind facilities in the United States typically use between 30 and 141 acres per megawatt of power output capacity (a typical new utility-scale wind turbine is about 2 megawatts). However, less than 1 acre per megawatt is disturbed permanently and less than 3.5 acres per megawatt are disturbed temporarily during construction. Therefore , the remaining land can be used for agriculture and animal husbandry.
The offshore wind turbines also interfere with other activities like fishing, sand and gravel extraction and other recreational activities.
However, wind turbines built on abandoned land could reduce concern about land use.
Wind turbines could potentially harm the wildlife especially the bats and the birds. The birds could collide with the wind turbines or lose their habitat during wind turbines construction. Offshore wind turbine are also believed to disturb the marine habitat. However, there are also reports which suggest that offshore wind turbines increase fish population by acting as artificial reef.
Thus, more research is required to understand the impact of wind turbines on wildlife.
- Wind Portal on energypedia
- Wind Energy Development Programmatic EIS - Wind Energy Development Environmental Concerns
- Union of Concernec Scientists: Environmental Impacts of Wind Power
- Impacts Environmental
- Union of Concerned Scientists, 2013 - Environmental Impacts of Wind Power: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/environmental-impacts-wind-power.html#.VFxXlxaGeo0