Wind Working Group Toolkit

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Photo from First Wind, NREL 16738

Increased use of the nation's abundant wind resources for electric power generation will help the United States reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, diversify the country's energy supply, provide cost‐competitive electricity, and reduce water usage for power generation. Electricity from wind energy will also stimulate and help revitalize the domestic economy by investing in infrastructure and creating long-term, skilled jobs.

In the past decade, wind has become one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity generation in the United States. Wind turbine technologies and project costs have changed rapidly in recent years. Wind farm siting and technological improvements have reduced wind energy costs and impacts to neighbors and the environment. At the same time, the benefits of wind energy and diversity of possible applications have continued to increase. In light of the fact that wind energy is a relatively new and rapidly evolving technology, WINDExchange is focused on disseminating applicable information from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Program research, cultivating networks of regional partners to help support the effective transfer of information and receiving input about current wind energy deployment issues.

WINDExchange provides information about wind energy that is fact-based, relevant, and actionable so that:

  • Individuals and communities can make informed decisions about the benefits and impacts of wind energy.
  • Decision-makers involved in wind energy planning and permitting are supported with current and credible information.

WINDExchange continues DOE's efforts to make high-quality information and outreach materials readily available through forums such as this document.

In 2013, DOE funded an independent analysis [1] of its stakeholder engagement and outreach activities. Interviewees identified two activities as having played the greatest role in the success of state-based efforts to provide information about appropriate wind energy deployment:

  • Increasing public support and building networks that improve information-sharing among stakeholders
  • Developing and disseminating targeted technical information.

The analysis also identified the following characteristics of successful state Wind Working Groups, organizations that were funded by DOE to provide a platform for open dialog around wind development:

  • Information sharing among diverse stakeholder networks
  • Finding a useful (and unoccupied) niche
  • Having champions who expand the sphere of influence and make connections
  • Maintaining partnerships with entities like universities that helped foster the group’s credibility and objectivity.

As part of these successful information-sharing efforts, state-based organizations promoting a strong wind energy dialog used the DOE-funded State Wind Working Group Handbook to help address stakeholder needs in their states, in conjunction with their own unique methods and outreach materials. This updated wiki-based Wind Working Group Toolkit, hosted here on OpenEI, provides a modern alternative to a handbook. The Toolkit allows wind stakeholders to share resources and continue to grow an effective, fact-based educational outreach effort on the issues, benefits, and policy options related to wind energy. This wiki is a work in progress, and we welcome your contributions.

Contents

Siting Wind Projects

Environmental impacts are important considerations in siting wind energy projects, just as they should be for other power plant or transmission line projects.[2] Environmental and other siting issues can be raised during the permitting process for wind projects. In many cases, issues raised during the permitting process for wind turbines can be similar to issues raised for permitting other development projects; in other cases, the issues are unique to the wind technology. The successful development of a wind project is typically the result of balancing the project’s economic viability and overcoming any siting issues. If a project will cost too much as a result of environmental or community issues, the developer will probably terminate pursuit of the wind project — as would be the case with any other type of development project.[3]

The following pages provide links to resources that provide credible information about wind energy siting:

Wind Energy Social Acceptance

Photo from Amanda Ormond, NREL 16846

Wind power is an important contributor to renewable energy, climate, and energy security targets set by many countries around the globe. However, wind power development is often delayed due to opposition at the regional or local level.[4]

Why the opposition? As wind energy is implemented in an area, change can be perceived as threatening. Public objectives can conflict with expanded development, and stakeholders can feel threatened by new options. Siting and public decision-makers need an accurate and objective understanding of the issues, as well as a consistent set of standards or knowledge on which to base decisions.

Siting and public decision-makers may face:

  • Conflicting info, competing claims, valid and baseless concerns
  • An absence of independent (scientific, peer-reviewed) information.[5]

Social or community acceptance can be defined as "societal consensus on the planning, construction, and operation of wind power projects," and it can be a powerful facilitator of wind development.[4]

The following pages provide links to resources that provide credible information about wind energy social acceptance topics.

Wind Energy & Education

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a report describing a 20% wind energy future by 2030. The report noted that 500,000 new jobs would be created by 2030 in the wind industry and related fields, and the need for skilled wind industry workers was identified as a critical issue.[6] This section is devoted to wind energy workforce development, careers in the industry, resources for teachers wishing to incorporate wind energy into class activities at all levels, and the DOE Collegiate Wind Competition and Wind for Schools project.

Economic Development & Impacts

Federal, State, & Local Policies

Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy defines the scale of wind turbine technologies as follows: utility-scale is greater than 1 megawatt (MW) in size, mid-size turbines are 101 kilowatts (kW) to 1 MW in size, and small turbines are up to 100 kW in size. Distributed wind systems are defined as systems connected on the customer side of the meter (to meet the onsite load) or directly to the local grid (to support grid operations or offset large loads nearby. Community wind is characterized by local ownership and control and includes many distributed wind projects.[7] Offshore wind projects, of course, capture the winds off the coasts and convert them to electricity.[8] Learn more about the technology classes at the links below.

Markets

References

  1.  "Navigant. Impact and Process Evaluation of the U.S. DOE’s Wind Powering America Initiative"
  2.  "National Wind Coordinating Committee. Technical Considerations in Siting Wind Developments"
  3.  "U.S. Department of Energy. State Wind Working Group Handbook"
  4. 4.0 4.1  "International Energy Agency. Social Acceptance of Wind Energy Projects"
  5.  "National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Social Acceptance of Wind Energy: Managing and Evaluating Its Market Impacts"
  6.  "U.S. Department of Energy. U.S. Department of Energy. 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy's Contributions to U.S. Electricity Supply"
  7.  "U.S. Department of Energy. 2012 Market Report on U.S. Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications"
  8.  "U.S. Department of Energy. Offshore Wind Technology"