The generation of electrical energy from wind, or wind energy, is a priority for the United States and the state of Minnesota. At the national level, the United States Department of Energy has published a report called 20% Wind Energy by 2030, created tax credit breaks for developing and using renewable energy, and funded wind energy research and development.1 However, there is no federal renewable portfolio standard requiring that increased amounts of the United States’ energy come from renewable energy sources, although thirty of the fifty states have such a standard.2Minnesota’s renewable energy objective calls for 25% of the state’s electrical energy to come from renewable sources including wind energy by 2025.
While many people support wind energy, some have become concerned about possible impacts to their quality of life due to wind turbines, including noise, shadow flicker, and visual impacts, especially when they believe a wind turbine may be placed too close to their home. There is no worldwide agreement on appropriate wind turbine setback distances from homes; in fact, there is very limited awareness of wind turbine setbacks in other countries, or why a particular setback distance or limit was chosen. This report attempts to identify and clarify existing governmental requirements and recommendations regarding wind turbine setbacks from residences. It also attempts to identify the rationale behind current policies and whether or not the policies are based on public opinion or research. This report does not argue in favor of or against wind power, nor does it identify a best setback distance or measure. The goal of this report is to provide a resource of existing policies and recommendations regarding setbacks from residences in major wind energy-producing countries besides the United States.