”How much is enough?” Determining Adequate Levels of Environmental Compensation for Wind Power Impacts using Equivalency Analysis: An Illustrative & Hypothetical Case Study of Sea Eagle Impacts at the Smøla Wind Farm, Norway
Environmental considerations at wind power require avoidance and mitigation of environmental impacts through proper citing, operational constraints, etc. However, some impacts are unavoidable for otherwise socially-beneficial projects. Criteria for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) suggest that compensation be provided for unavoidable or residual impacts on species and/or habitat from wind power development. Current environmental compensation schemes for wind power fail to demonstrate a connection between the expected ecological damage and the ecological gains through restoration. The EU-funded REMEDE project developed quantitative methods known as "equivalency analysis" to assist in scaling environmental compensation. This study provides a framework for estimating compensation at wind facilities based on the REMEDE approach. I illustrate the approach with a hypothetical case study involving sea eagle impacts at the Smøla Wind Farm (Norway). I quantify the damage (debit) from sea eagle turbine collisions and scale a compensatory project (credit) that reduces eagle mortality from power line electrocution, which is quantified using hypothetical data. The framework is generalizable to on- and off-shore wind development but requires targeted and thoughtful data collection. Importantly, compensation should not be used disingenuously to justify otherwise environmentally costly projects.
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