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  • Monday, April 25, 2011


    Win-Win for Wind and Wildlife: A Vision to Facilitate Sustainable Development
    Joseph M. Kiesecker, et. al., April 2011 (PloS One)

    "…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…Species that require large unfragmented habitats and those known to avoid vertical structures are particularly at risk…Developing energy on disturbed lands rather than placing new developments within large and intact habitats would reduce cumulative impacts to wildlife…

    "…The U.S. Department of Energy [DOE] estimates that it will take 241 GW of terrestrial based wind development on approximately 5 million hectares to reach 20% electricity production for the U.S. by 2030. We estimate there are ~7,700 GW of potential wind energy available across the U.S., with ~3,500 GW on disturbed lands…[A] disturbance-focused development strategy would avert the development of ~2.3 million hectares of undisturbed lands while generating the same amount of energy…Wind subsidies targeted at favoring low-impact developments and creating avoidance and mitigation requirements that raise the costs for projects impacting sensitive lands could improve public value for both wind energy and biodiversity conservation."

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    "…Within the United States, the world's largest cumulative producer of greenhouse gases, societal concerns have shaped energy policy… DOE envisions the U.S. producing 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030, as outlined in [0% Wind Energy by 2030 (20% vision) ]…Meeting the DOE 20% vision (~241 Gigawatts of on-shore wind with an additional 64 Gigawatts of off-shore wind) would result in 5 million hectares of impacted land, an area roughly the size of Florida, with an additional 18,000 kilometers of new transmission lines…

    "[Wind] is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sectors…This growth is manifested in arrays of turbines that cover large areas…Wind “farms” have a broad footprint and thus are highly susceptible to land use conflicts…[I]t is the increase in fragmentation and habitat loss associated with development that creates an important conservation challenge…[T]he Federal Endangered Species Act currently protects over 1300 species and another ~250 species are under consideration for protection. The majority of these species list habitat loss and fragmentation as the primary cause for federal protected status…Siting of wind development that avoids habitats important for biodiversity reduces the potential for significant habitat loss and fragmentation…"

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    "In this study we examine patterns of wind energy potential in terrestrial landscapes that are already disturbed by human activities (e.g., agriculture, oil and gas development)…[T]his is the first to examine if renewable energy goals can be met on disturbed lands that could reduce conflict with wildlife. Our 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…

    "…Here we focus on the 31 states that comprise the majority of the DOE 20% vision, excluding states that have ≤1 GW of projected development…We calculated the area needed to meet DOE wind energy scenarios within each state, providing a broad overview of the potential for wind energy generation on disturbed lands, but did not attempt to predict where within each state wind energy development will take place…"


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