Environmental Impacts Research
The Wind Program at NREL works to resolve environmental issues that may hinder acceptance of wind energy technologies. The program accomplishes this through activities that address the potential effects of wind development on wildlife and identifies corresponding mitigation strategies.
As part of this effort, the program supports the work of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) Wildlife Workgroup, which is focused on collaborative approaches for understanding and evaluating species- and habitat-specific impacts, mitigation tools, risk assessment, and nocturnal study techniques. To address wildlife research needs, the NWCC program supports two collaborative efforts. The Grassland Shrub Steppe Species Collaborative currently has two species-specific research projects underway. The first, launched in 2006, is a multi-year effort to study wind turbines in prairie chicken habitat. This project is nearing completion. A second multi-year effort to study the impacts of wind turbines on sage grouse was initiated in 2009. Field work began in 2011.
The program also collaborates with the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative. This organization investigates bats and wind turbine interactions.
Both collaborations include representatives from a wide range of stakeholders including the wind industry, environmental organizations, state and federal agencies, the Department of Energy's Wind and Water Program, and others. In addition, NREL's program provides technical support and presentations to industry, fellow federal agencies, environmental groups, and others as requested.
To read more about the effects of wind energy on wildlife, see the Wind-Wildlife Impacts Literature Database (WILD).