USGS Releases Nation’s First Wind Turbine Map

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released the first map of wind turbine locations across the nation.

| April 16, 2014

Wind generates electricity by turning the blades of turbines. Individual turbines can range in height from several dozen to several hundred meters tall, with blade lengths measuring several dozen meters.

Photo by USGS

Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors of renewable energy in the United States.  About 3 percent of the total electricity in the United States was generated by wind turbines in 2012 (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), which is equivalent to the annual electricity use for about 12 million households. The amount of electricity generated by wind has increased from about 6 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) in 2000 to 140 billion kwh in 2012.

In response to the Department of Interior’s Powering Our Future initiative, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun investigating how to assess the impacts of wind energy development on wildlife at a national scale. The USGS has released the nation's first map of wind turbine locations

Assessment Experience

The USGS has extensive experience assessing energy resources, and it’s that expertise that makes the USGS qualified to assess nationwide impacts of wind energy development. One of the major reasons behind the success of USGS energy resource assessments is the scientifically robust methodology that underpins them.

USGS energy resource assessment methodologies are publicly available and are technically peer reviewed externally, and just as importantly, are used consistently in every assessment. That means that a USGS oil and gas assessment in Alaska provides comparable information to a USGS oil and gas assessment in Texas, or that a USGS geothermal assessment in California is comparable to a USGS geothermal assessment in Nevada.

A Different Kind of Assessment

USGS has recently undertaken a project to develop a methodology for assessing wind energy impacts on wildlife at a national scale. This research is different from previous USGS energy assessments. Instead of looking at technically recoverable resources of oil, gas, geothermal or coal, or even technically accessible storage areas for carbon sequestration, the USGS is developing a method for determining the impacts of a type of energy production. This work will merge the experience the USGS has creating assessment methodologies with its expertise in wildlife ecology and wind-wildlife research, as well as in land change science.

Wind energy can impact both wildlife and their habitats. Wildlife impacts include potential bird and bat mortality from collisions with turbine blades, and in some cases, species avoidance of habitat near turbines. Habitat impacts include the turbine pads in addition to service roads, transmission lines, substations, meteorological towers, and other structures associated with wind energy siting, generation, and transmission.

4/20/2014 12:50:38 PM

WIND Energy is hugely and quietly successful in the U.S. --- A recent Gallup poll said more Americans want Wind and Solar Energy instead of nuclear or coal! -- If anyone still doesn't understand how dangerous and dirty nuclear energy can be, please go to the HIGHLY recommended site WWW.ENENEWS.COM and read the headlines!! -- Very important information there!

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