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Wind turbines location: How many and how far?

Author

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  • Betakova, Vendula
  • Vojar, Jiri
  • Sklenicka, Petr

Abstract

Existing research relating to visual impact of wind turbines (WTs) affirms this to be an essential parameter for public acceptance in most cases as well as for the planning process and permitting of planned wind farms. This study brings new findings about the impact of two crucial factors: numbers of WTs (1–25) visible and distances of WTs (0.75–15km) from the observer (e.g. from residential buildings, landmarks, observation points). Photographs of three aesthetically varying landscapes with various numbers of WTs (Vestas V90, height 105m, rotor diameter 90m) at various distances were evaluated in terms of visual preferences. The results show significant effect from the aesthetic value of a given landscape on the impact of both tested factors. An important finding is that the landscape with the highest aesthetic quality initially was evaluated to be the absolute worst after the addition of WTs and vice versa. Increasing numbers of WTs in the least attractive landscape had less visual impact than did doing so in the two more attractive landscapes. This helps explain strong public opposition to locating WTs in aesthetically valuable landscapes and their greater acceptance in less-attractive landscapes. Increasing stepwise from 1 to 25 WTs within a given landscape progressively decreased visual preferences, although the cumulative effect of a higher number of WTs was not confirmed. We also established threshold distances after which the negative visual impact of a WT disappeared (10km for the most attractive landscape, 5km for the least attractive one). Based on these findings, visibility zones were proposed for practical assessment of WTs’ visual impact. The study’s results can make a substantial contribution towards reducing negative visual impact in WT planning and thus achieving greater public acceptance of these devices.

Suggested Citation

  • Betakova, Vendula & Vojar, Jiri & Sklenicka, Petr, 2015. "Wind turbines location: How many and how far?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 23-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:151:y:2015:i:c:p:23-31
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.04.060
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