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Assessing the state of knowledge of utility-scale wind energy development and operation on non-volant terrestrial and marine wildlife

Applied Energy
DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2012.10.001
  • Desert Tortoise
  • Impacts
  • Terrestrial And Marine Wildlife
  • Turbine
  • Wind Energy
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Physics


Abstract A great deal has been published in the scientific literature regarding the effects of wind energy development and operation on volant (flying) wildlife including birds and bats, although knowledge of how to mitigate negative impacts is still imperfect. We reviewed the peer-reviewed scientific literature for information on the known and potential effects of utility-scale wind energy development and operation (USWEDO) on terrestrial and marine non-volant wildlife and found that very little has been published on the topic. Following a similar review for solar energy we identified known and potential effects due to construction and eventual decommissioning of wind energy facilities. Many of the effects are similar and include direct mortality, environmental impacts of destruction and modification of habitat including impacts of roads, and offsite impacts related to construction material acquisition, processing and transportation. Known and potential effects due to operation and maintenance of facilities include habitat fragmentation and barriers to gene flow, as well as effects due to noise, vibration and shadow flicker, electromagnetic field generation, macro- and micro-climate change, predator attraction, and increased fire risk. The scarcity of before-after-control-impact studies hinders the ability to rigorously quantify the effects of USWEDO on non-volant wildlife. We conclude that more empirical data are currently needed to fully assess the impact of USWEDO on non-volant wildlife.

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