Land Use Requirements of Modern Wind Power Plants in the United States

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report provides data and analysis of the land use associated with modern, large wind power plants (defined as greater than 20 megawatts (MW) and constructed after 2000). The analysis discusses standard land-use metrics as established in the life-cycle assessment literature, and then discusses their applicability to wind power plants. The report identifies two major 'classes' of wind plantland use: 1) direct impact (i.e., disturbed land due to physical infrastructure development), and 2) total area (i.e., land associated with the complete wind plant project). The analysis also provides data for each of these classes, derived from project applications, environmental impact statements, and other sources. It attempts to identify relationships among land use, wind plantconfiguration, and geography. The analysts evaluated 172 existing or proposed projects, which represents more than 26 GW of capacity. In addition to providing land-use data and summary statistics, they identify several limitations to the existing wind project area data sets, and suggest additional analysis that could aid in evaluating actual land use and impacts associated with deployment of wind energy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages46
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A2-45834


  • land impact
  • land use
  • life-cycle assessment
  • NREL
  • United States
  • wind capacity
  • wind energy
  • wind power
  • wind power plants
  • wind project


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