Wind turbines and wildlife

There is little doubt that windfarms can have an impact on wildlife but a recent study by the Kansas Nature Conservancy indicates that threats to wildlife can be mitigated through siting criteria and use of habitat offsets. According to the authors,  there are approximately 14.5 million ha suitable for wind energy development in Kansas, based on wind power class, distance to current and proposed transmission, and excluding urban and protected areas. After removing the wildlife avoidance areas identified in the study, approximately 10.3 million ha remain as suitable for wind energy development.   Of this, 7.6 million ha would require some type of mitigation or offset to protect wildlife habitat, leaving 2.7 million ha that the authors find suitable for wind farming without any wildlife compensatory activities or payments.

The study is clearly unique to Kansas but the methodology could be applied in many regions. It is illustrative of the approaches that need to be considered if wildlife is protected during development of windfarms. The paper also includes a schematic showing proposed steps of a Green Certification process for wind energy development.

The research is published in the online peer reviewed science journal PLoS ONE and can be found at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0026698

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