USGS Wind Energy Impacts Assessment Methodology Development Workshop, March 20 - 22, 2012
The Energy Resources Program, in response to the Secretary of the Interior's new Energy Frontier Wind Initiative, is charged with utilizing research, modeling, and monitoring to develop a quantitative methodology to assess the ecological impacts associated with the widespread development of wind-farms.
The first step in the process was to hold a workshop to address the question: how can the USGS identify wind energy assessment criteria and inputs to create a methodology that assesses the impacts to wildlife and fish species from wind energy? We are looking to determine what impacts should be included in an assessment, including any impacts that might not be species-related, and ensure that the product is informed by the best available science and understanding of biologic and engineering systems and processes. The workshop summary and notes, participants, agenda, and possible process steps are presented below.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wind energy impact assessment methodology project team welcomed the group and provided background on the workshop. The goal of the workshop – to start the discussion regarding developing a national assessment methodology to quantify impacts to wildlife from large-scale wind energy development – is part of the Secretary of Interior’s New Energy Frontier Initiative. USGS has a history of success with quantitative, probabilistic nationwide assessments. USGS would like to develop an assessment methodology useful to many different organizations, informing new research and policy priorities, and possibly useful to other impact assessment methodologies, because the USGS realizes that wind energy is not the only energy resource with environmental impacts. In order to meet this objective, USGS plans to incorporate the work that has already been done on wind energy impacts. The assessment methodology project is a multi-year effort, and this workshop is the first step in an ongoing scoping effort that USGS plans to conduct, to inform the process from the start.
USGS is requesting the input of the experts present at this workshop and others who could not attend. USGS intends for this workshop to be complemented by future outreach activities, such as small group meetings, individual calls, informational webcasts, and possibly additional workshops.
After introductions (view list of participants), the facilitator reviewed the agenda (view agenda), noted that it is flexible, and emphasized that the purpose of this workshop was not to make decisions, but to start the discussion regarding the assessment methodology and help USGS decide what their next steps should be. Several workshop participants noted the good timing of this effort, as there is a great need for this assessment methodology. However, there was concern about evaluating the impacts of wind energy only, without a comparison with the impacts of other energy sources. There were a number of discussion points regarding how to develop the methodology, including whether USGS would develop a future wind energy build out scenario from which to assess impacts, whether modeling was robust enough to understand impacts, if more analyses were needed, and so on. It was also proposed from the outset that the assessment be flexible enough to be updated over time with new information.
[+View Full Workshop Summary]
Documents from the Workshop:
- Workshop Summary (PDF)
- List of Workshop Participants (PDF)
- Workshop Agenda (PDF)
- Possible Process Steps (PDF)
- Workshop Presentations (PDFs)
Documents from July 27th, 2012 Follow up to Workshop Webinar:
- Webinar Presentation (PDF)