WINDPOWER siting sessions coming at the right time

11 April 2014 by Carl Levesque Carl Levesque

Each year the WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition never shies away from tackling the most current topics, even the tough ones. Siting, a perennially challenging issue in some ways, has been growing in significance and become a top-priority issue for the industry in recent years. WINDPOWER 2014 promises to shed light on the latest information, news, and insights on the subject—particularly in two sessions that anyone interested in siting will not want to miss.

“Don’t Build Here, Go Over There – Current Challenges In Siting, which takes place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday May 6, starts with the well-known premise that siting is getting tougher than ever, with the “easy” sites more or less gone.  In some respects, that’s a big credit to the wind energy industry, which is now a mainstream energy source, having installed over 61,000 MW.

But it also presents challenges. Opposition groups are all the more aware of the industry. Even groups and individuals that support clean energy in principle sometimes come out against projects in their community or region. The notion of we support wind—just not here is hardly an uncommon phenomenon.

The session, therefore, will address the full range of challenges associated with the development and operations of wind energy facilities, using a full panel of experts to shed light on these issues. For example, Ian Baring-Gould, Wind & Water Technology Deployment Manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will discuss non-economic obstacles to wind development and how such challenges vary by region. The latest information on understanding impacts to bats and methods to reduce these impacts will also be discussed, as will new developments in wind turbine acoustics and mitigating the impacts to military radar.

Of course, one of the hottest topics these days involves the implementation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s eagle take permitting rule. "Gaining Clarity with an Eagle Eye View of Project Permitting” will devote the full 90-minute session window and the brainpower of a panel of experts to that topic.

The session, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday May 7, will take a look at what developers and others in the wind industry need to know when putting together eagle conservation plans as they work toward permit issuance, as well as the latest information on risk factors and predicting any fatalities at wind farms. Related to those topics, the American Wind Wildlife Institute’s research framework, necessary for addressing important questions related to many of the issues raised in the eagle permit process, will be examined. This discussion will include an assessment of how to fill the current data gaps in the understanding of what avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures are effective.

“Since the earliest days of the industry, siting issues have grown in scope and complexity,” said John Anderson, Director of Siting Policy at AWEA. “I’m very much looking forward to the WINDPOWER siting sessions because there’s so much happening in this segment of the industry right now, and we’ll have a chance to dig into these timely issues—and hopefully, develop strategies for overcoming some of these challenges.”

WINDPOWER 2014 takes place May 5-8 in Las Vegas. For more information on the session lineup, registration, and other information, go to http://windpowerexpo.org/.