Wind power doesn’t have to threaten wildlife

Wind energy helps alleviate some of the environmental concerns about burning fossil fuels, but wind farms also introduce their own problems, including habitat loss and mortality to birds and bats.

With proper planning and design, though, wind energy production can address ecological concerns and still achieve development goals.

Researchers analysed wildlife sensitivities in Kansas, describing how wind development could proceed while still meeting conservation goals for no-net-loss of wildlife.

The researchers identified areas that should be avoided to protect unique habitats and wildlife populations (such as prairie-chickens and the whooping crane), and quantified the level of “offset projects” that would be required to make up for any ecological effects of development in the remaining area.

The resulting proposal suggests that approximately 10 million hectares (about 50% of the state) could be developed for wind energy, potentially producing up to 478 gigawatts of energy, while still meeting conservation goals.

Read more at PLoS ONE