How do you preserve the climate, biodiversity and outdoor activities when building a wind farm? It is absolutely possible – and we have done it!
Wind mills towers over the landscape. Some think they are beautiful and majestic – others are concerned about noise and encroachment on nature. For us, it is important to preserve both climate, biodiversity and outdoor activities. Many municipalities and local communities have learned that it is indeed possible to build wind farms that make a positive contribution to the local environment.
It is quite correct that windmills – in addition to producing renewable power – make noise.
The noise varies with the wind’s force and direction. Authorities have set strict limits for what is considered acceptable wind noise. These values may not be exceeded, neither with respect to neighbours, landowners nor other affected parties. The shadows cast by the windmills are also subject to strict regulations.
We support the regulations, and are building wind farms that comply with public requirements.
Cutting climate gas emissions
Of all methods used to produce renewable and fossil electricity, both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Environment Programme, have documented that wind power has the best impact on climate gas emissions.
That is when the whole life cycle of the wind farm is taken into consideration: emissions related to the production of mill towers and blades, transport of equipment and construction of the wind farms, including disassembly and removal of the mills, and covering up foundation areas with indigenous soil and plants after the expiration of the permit period. You can read more about this in a UTEP report. (link: http://www.resourcepanel.org/reports/green-energy-choices-benefits-risks-and-trade-offs-low-carbon-technologies-electricity)
Lester Brown, a winner of the UN Environment Prize, and his research team, has concluded that wind power, at sea and on land, will constitute a key pillar of a future renewable energy system – in interaction with hydro, solar and other renewable solutions.
Dr. Brown is the founder of the World Watch Institute and the Washington Policy Institute, both independent research institutions, and is the author of a book called Plan B. Read the book here.
Dr. Lester Brown on the Høg-Jæren wind farm:
Rajendra Pachauri, former UNEP chairman, on
wind power and the Høg-Jæren wind farm:
The biodiversity of our wind farms shall be preserved – and strengthened if possible.
The Høg-Jæren wind farm is the first large scale wind farm in Rogaland – and the very first wind farm realized by Norsk Vindenergi. Here, vulnerable species of fauna and birds are counted and recorded annually, for a period of four years both before and after construction. The registration has documented that vulnerable species of bird, such as the Eurasian skylark, wheatear, a number of wader species, as well as vulnerable coastal moorland, have adapted very well to the wind farm.
The recording of birds was conducted by professor Torgrim Breihagen, a respected ornithologist. He was given the task by the environmental department of the County Governor of Rogaland.
On the recommendation of professor Breihagen and the Rogaland county administration, we have established more than 20 different bio dams with natural water surfaces in the terrain, in order to preserve and strengthen the biodiversity of the wind farm. This has improved the areas where the birds look for food, and has provided the wader species with an expanded area in which to nest.
Our goal is to preserve the biodiversity of all our wind farms in a similar quality manner.
A wind farm may increase and strengthen outdoor activities in the area.
The interest in using the area has increased after the establishment of the Høg-Jæren wind farm. Activities such as fishing, hiking and bicycling are popular. The wind farm is also used as a practice area by sports organisations. The roads that were laid during the building of the wind farm, makes hiking with pushchairs and small children easy.
Since the establishment of the wind farm, Varhaug Idrettslag, a sports club, has arranged its annual running event here, with top athletes, both youth and children among the participants.
In addition, a whole new group of users has arrived: visiting eco tourists, students and school classes that wish to learn about wind power, as well as environmental organisations on inspection and guided tours. For example, Natur & Ungdom, a Norwegian youth environmental organisation, chose to arrange its annual camp on the wind farm.
The operations building at the entrance to the area, was designed by the prize winning architectural office of Helen & Hard, and fits well into the landscape. It is made of environmentally friendly, renewable materials, and its roof is covered with various local grass varieties.