Friday, May 04, 2007

National Academies Report

Environmental Impacts of Wind Projects,
National Academies Report

Released May 3, 2007

The National Research Council has released a report this morning on the environmental impact of wind turbines. The report is currently available at ; you have to download the report in sections. Below is a summary of "key points" about this NRC research publication, which was prepared by Rick Webb - a co-author of the report.

Thanks to Dan Boone

National Academies Report

- some key points from the report concerning benefits and risk, Rick Webb, 050307

Contribution to Electricity Supply and Emissions Reductions

Based on 3 DOE projections for U.S. onshore wind development by 2020:
· 19 - 72 GW installed capacity; or 9500-36000 2-MW turbines.
· 2 - 7 % of installed generation capacity.
· 1.2 - 4.5% of actual generation (less than installed capacity due to intermittency of wind).
· 3.5 - 19% of the projected increase in total generation from all sources (that is, 96.5 - 81% of new generation must be obtained from other sources).
· No reduction in NOx and SO2 emissions – pollutants regulated by emissions caps.
· 1.2 - 4.5% reduction in CO2 emissions from electrical generating units, which at present only account for 39% of total U.S. CO2 emissions from energy use.

· Given that the density of the wind resource is less for the Mid-Atlantic region than for the U.S. as a whole, the benefits in terms of electricity supply and emissions reductions will be proportionately less for the Mid-Atlantic region than for the country as a whole. [Boldface added]

Cumulative Impact on Birds and Bats

Based on two projections for wind development in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands and the range of mortality observed at existing Appalachian wind projects:
· National Renewable Energy Laboratory projection for wind development: 2,158 MW of installed capacity or 1439 1.5-MW turbines.
o 5,805 to 25,183 birds killed per year
o 33,017 to 61,935 bats killed per year
· Projection for wind development based on the PJM Interconnection Queue: 3.9 GW installed capacity or 2571 1.5 MW turbines.
o 10,372 to 44,999 birds killed per year
o 58,997 to 110,665 bats killed per year
· There is insufficient information to assess the potential for population impacts on birds in the eastern U.S.
· The potential for impacts on bat populations in the eastern U.S. is significant.

Rick Webb note: The committee was not charged with making a determination about the significance of the potential contribution of wind energy development. My personal perspective, however, is that wind energy development on Appalachian ridges carries great risk of environmental harm and very little potential for benefits.

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