Environmental issues associated with wind energy: A review


Recognized as one of the most mature renewable energy technologies, wind energy has been developing rapidly in recent years. Many countries have shown interest in utilizing wind power, but they are concerned about the environmental impacts of the wind farms. The continuous growth of the wind energy industry in many parts of the world, especially in some developing countries and ecologically vulnerable regions, necessitates a comprehensive understanding of wind farm induced environmental impacts. The environmental issues caused by wind farms were reviewed in this paper by summarizing existing studies. Available mitigation measures to minimize these adverse environmental impacts were discussed in this document. The conclusion of the report is provided below. The full paper can be accessed at the links on this page.


Renewable energy is one solution for the global energy problem. In addition, renewable energy has beneficial socioeconomic impacts such as diversifying the energy supply, increasing regional and rural development opportunities, and creating domestic industry and employment opportunities [142]. However, renewable energy can create environmental issues in a habitat or a community. Even though the environmental impact of wind turbines is still a controversial topic, the impact should not be ignored. Minor issues today may cause disastrous effects in the future when wind energy becomes one of the main energy sources. As shown in this review study, more scientific studies are needed on the potential impacts of wind farms on the environment. Wind energy exploitation and related infrastructure construction projects should be evaluated for the economic, social, environmental, biological, and ecological influences. Suitable measures should be implemented to mitigate the environmental issues caused by the infrastructure construction and facility operation of wind farms. Developers, planners, and government officials need to gather and communicate complete information with the public to ensure that the projects are developed in a way that avoids, minimizes, and mitigates environmental impacts.

The paper reviewed published information regarding the environmental impacts of the wind power industry and the potential mitigation measures. Based on the discussions, several observations are summarized as follows:

(1) Various rates of bird and bat mortalities caused by the wind turbines have been reported in literature. Turbine types, the topographic feature of a wind farm, bird/bat species, climatic conditions, and many other variables affect the mortality
rate. Although it is not clear how significantly offshore wind farms affect the marine environment, caution should be used when locating offshore wind turbines close to major habitats of local sea animals. Many countries still do not have specific
bio-system protection standards against wind turbines. It is often the developer's responsibility to conduct the environmental impact study. Extensive research is still needed to fully understand the influences of wind farms on local biological

(2) Noise induced by wind turbine operation has been studied for many years, and several criteria have been published in different countries and regions. One reasonable approach to reduce the noise disturbance of wind turbines is to follow
suitable noise limits and distance criteria developed from those scientific studies. However, compared to the rigorous researches on other noise sources, such as transportation noise, there is not enough solid data and quantitative scientific studies about wind farm noises. More research is required to accumulate the knowledge of wind farm noises through field measurements and theoretical analyses.

(3) The visual impact of wind farms on the landscape is a subjective issue. Social studies and technology improvements could be used to help solve the problems. Even though disagreement remains about the meteorological impact and
the electromagnetic interference of wind farms among different studies, large-scale wind farms do generate problems for regional climate and communication services. Therefore, mitigation technologies and measures at different scales should be considered during the wind farm planning stage. 

Environmental Issues And Wind Energy Dai Etal

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MAR 1 2015
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