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Spatial Trade-Offs between Wind Power Production and Bird Collision Avoidance in Agricultural Landscapes

Marcus Eichhorn, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Martin Drechsler, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research


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The expansion of renewable energy production is seen as an appropriate way to mitigate climate change. Renewable energies are not free of negative external effects on humans and the natural environment. We analyzed the conflict between wind power production and bird protection through the example of one of the most sensitive species, the red kite (Milvus milvus) in West Saxony, Germany. We investigated a large number of potential land use scenarios, defined by whether or not each potential site contained a wind turbine (WT). Based on meteorological and ornithological data, we evaluated the land use scenarios for their annual energy supply and impact on the red kite. We identified the efficient land use scenarios that maximized energy supply for a given ecological impact. Within the scope of our analysis, the current allocation of WTs in the study region was considered inefficient. The set of efficient scenarios allowed us to draw conclusions on the trade-offs involved. We developed an indicator that measures the severity of the conflict between wind power production and bird protection. Increasing the minimum distance of WTs to settlements beyond the legal requirements in order to minimize the impact on humans further intensifies the conflict. Our results can support planning authorities in their development of long-term regional plans by identifying areas that are most suitable for wind power production from an integrated point of view.

Key words

bird protection; efficiency frontier; land use optimization; spatial allocation; trade-off; wind power

Copyright © 2010 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087