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McGill University

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Wind Farms More Land efficient than previously thought

Research from McGill University has demonstrated that wind farms are more land-efficient than previously believed, challenging the notion that wind energy requires more land compared to fossil fuel-driven power plants. The study, which evaluated nearly 320 U.S. wind farms and 16,000 wind turbines, revealed that wind farms typically utilize only about 5% of the total land area for actual infrastructure such as turbines and roads, with the rest available for uses like agriculture. Published in Environmental Science and Technology, the findings highlight that wind farms are particularly land-efficient when leveraging existing roads and infrastructure, making them about seven times more efficient in terms of energy produced per square meter of land impacted than newly developed sites.
The study utilized advanced techniques combining GIS and machine learning, analyzing around 2,000 images of wind farms to assess the impact of various factors such as turbine placement and pre-existing infrastructure on land use. This approach, described in detail in the study "Land Resources for Wind Energy Development Requires Regionalized Characterizations," offers a new method for environmental impact analysis and energy systems planning, potentially applicable to various energy technologies aiming for net zero emissions.
Complementing this research, another study by the same team published in Environmental Science: Advances explored the lifecycle land use of natural gas-fired electricity, providing a comparative perspective on environmental sustainability across different energy sources. This body of work, supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, sets the foundation for future assessments of energy technologies, enhancing understanding of the true land use implications of renewable versus fossil fuel-based power generation.

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  • Jane Wangui

    1 d

    Wow..the kind of ideas that we need inorder to make informed decisions when it comes to the utilization of land.

    • Joseph Githinji

      4 w

      A great comparative study that is going to guide on the best way to utilise land maximumly in a way that protects our environment.

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