Edited by Davide Geneletti
Chapter 13: Exploring the trade- offs between wind energy and biodiversity conservation
The ongoing development of renewable energy and biodiversity conservation can complement each other whilst interfering with one another’s goals. Land-based wind energy will remain, in a mid-term perspective, the most efficient source of renewable energy. Impact assessment for wind energy’s wildlife implications has brought manifold results within the recent decade. Based on findings so far, a comprehensive variety of mitigation measures has been identified and implemented, for example, macro-avoidance, micro-siting, wind facility design, curtailment, decreasing on-site habitat attractiveness, deterrence, and compensatory mitigation. However, uncertainties about wind energy’s wildlife effects remain, such as the quantification of impacts, the significance of effects on a population level, and the efficacy of mitigation measures. At the same time, ever more detailed Environmental Impact Assessment and planning approaches have been elaborated (e.g., macro-siting with zoning maps, habitat conservation plans, and adaptive management), thus, shaping and balancing trade-offs of renewable energy systems and biodiversity conservation goals. Illustrated by facets of wind energy case studies, we introduce ambitious approaches and discuss the scope of trade-off strategies against more conflictive action taking. This might also contribute to setting an agenda as far as competing ecosystems functions and services are concerned (climate change mitigation vs biodiversity conservation).
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