Fort Worth, TX, Mar. 25, 2008 — Texas Christian University (TCU), FPL Energy LLC, and Oxford University announced the formation of a partnership and research initiative to better understand the ecological and socio-economic impacts of wind power development.
The five-year research initiative includes three primary focus areas, including wind turbine impact on birds and bats; wind turbine ecological impacts; and socio-economic impacts of wind projects.
The avian and bat impact assessment is expected to produce a better understanding of the interactions between birds and bats and wind turbines. The research effort will focus on developing and testing statistically robust protocols for pre and post-construction monitoring of avian and bat movement and mortality.
The ecological and climate research team will conduct a carbon analysis to assess the extent to which wind energy reduces atmospheric carbon that would otherwise be emitted as electricity is generated from fossil fuels. This research effort will also focus on ecological impacts of wind farms such as habitat fragmentation, local species movement, and regional land-based migration.
Both direct and indirect socio-economic impacts of wind projects will be analyzed on a local and regional basis. Measurements will include land use revenue, taxes, and employment. This study also will explore the impacts on local culture and customs, including a viewshed analysis to assess the aesthetic impact of wind projects. When key aesthetic factors are understood, researchers will suggest ways to minimize the appearance of wind turbines.
The research will be coordinated by TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies (IES) and Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI). The five-year research effort will be funded by FPL Energy. All of the field research necessary for the project will be conducted at FPL Energy’s wind farm locations across the U.S.
The research partners hope the information generated from the research effort will be used to shape responsible future development of wind generation and transmission of energy.
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