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Map: Illinois Prime for Wind Development Done Right  

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy - Midwest Region contributes to [Public News Service's] fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Sustainable Agriculture, Water.

Credit:  August 28, 2020 | www.publicnewsservice.org ~~

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – There’s encouraging news about Illinois’ potential for wind energy development in a new analysis.

The 17 states spanning the central U.S. are known as the “Wind Belt,” with roughly 80% of the nation’s current and planned wind-energy capacity.

And Jeff Walk – director of conservation programs with The Nature Conservancy in Illinois – said his group’s new mapping tool, called “Site Wind Right,” uses wind, land use and wildlife data to detect areas where conflicts between wind development and wildlife are likely to be minimal.

“We identified low-risk areas in that Wind Belt that could generate something on the order of about 100 gigawatts of energy,” said Walk. “Which is roughly equivalent to the total energy generation potential that the United States has today.”

In Illinois, roughly two million acres are available for wind development. Walk said if that was built out, it could generate enough energy to power a city the size of Chicago.

Walk said he hopes the mapping tool will be used by developers, power purchasers and policymakers in planning low-risk wind projects.

Walk said he sees wind energy development as an integral part of meeting the nation’s climate goals. However, he notes, when it isn’t properly planned, wind development can negatively affect wildlife and ecosystems – in part because it requires large areas of land.

“We need to be fully supportive of a rapid transition to renewable energy sources,” said Walk, “and acknowledging that all forms of energy generation have some environmental impact.”

He added that siting wind development in areas of relatively low conservation impact also can reduce the timeline for project approval, as well as project costs.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy – Midwest Region contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Sustainable Agriculture, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

Source:  August 28, 2020 | www.publicnewsservice.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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