IEA Wind White Paper: Cumulative Effects Analysis for Wind Energy Development: Current Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities: IEA Wind TCP Task 34

Research output: NRELTechnical Report

Abstract

The increasing global deployment of wind energy has given rise to concerns about potential adverse effects on certain wildlife species and habitats. The United States and European nations use environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to evaluate the environmental effects of wind energy and inform wind energy planning, siting, and operational processes. A key component of the EIA is the cumulative effects analysis/assessment (CEA). CEAs consider the effects of a proposed development in the context of past, present, and future developments, as well as other (non-wind) activities. However, practitioners worldwide have struggled to implement cost-effective and consistent processes for CEAs. Further, there is no widely accepted scientific methodology to assess cumulative effects. As wind energy deployment continues to expand, developing a consistent and scientifically based approach to CEAs may provide a more comparable across assessments and cost-effective means of reducing risk during siting, operations, and decommissioning/repowering, while minimizing regulatory hurdles. This technical report evaluates the current state of CEA practices, covering both land-based and offshore wind energy development. It focuses on impacts from the preconstruction, construction, and operational phases of the wind farm, which are the phases where most research currently exists. Emerging research addresses impacts from the perspective of life cycle assessments (LCAs), including the impacts of manufacturing and preconstruction (May et al. 2020). The technical report also summarizes CEA processes and guidelines, analysis approaches, and current challenges. Finally, it highlights opportunities for further research and coordination, and includes a geographically organized CEA information resource bank.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages20
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-80553

Keywords

  • cumulative effects
  • cumulative impacts
  • wildlife

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