Post-construction Wildlife Monitoring at Wind Energy Facilities

Lead Author: Dr. Sarah Stai

Publish date: 11.26.2012


Barriers and Opportunities in the Great Lakes Region


Generating electricity by capturing wind energy has many advantages over fossil fuels; among these is a lack of carbon dioxide (CO2) and CO2-equivalent emissions.[1] All known energy sources come with some challenges, however. Using renewable sources such as wind to provide 80% of the electricity supply by 2050 would involve significant hurdles, including technological issues surrounding energy storage and transmission. Politics,[2], societal attitudes, market factors, and environmental trade-offs also play important roles.


Post-construction monitoring of impacts to wildlife from wind energy facilities is an important tool for verifying predicted impacts based on pre-construction studies. It also increases the data available for siting projects in a way that minimizes impacts. Post-construction studies are not always necessary, but until recently, criteria for determining whether such studies are appropriate have been inconsistent.


We report here on a study in which we examined the barriers to, and opportunities for, post-construction wildlife monitoring. We focused on wind energy facilities in the Great Lakes region (including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin). Through this report we seek to improve understanding of the factors that limit collection and sharing of post-construction monitoring data and recognition of incentives that might overcome those limitations. Our overall goal is to help ensure that future decision-making is scientifically based and regionally relevant, while supporting development of the region’s wind energy industry.




[1] For a system-wide perspective, see: Valentino, L., V. Valenzuela, A. Borrerud, S. Shou, and G. Conzelmann.  System-wide emissions implications of increased wind power penetration.  2012.  Environmental Science and Technology 46(7), pp 4200-4206 (also available at:

[2] A federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for renewable energy, for example, was set to expire at the end of 2012 and had not been voted on by the U.S. Congress when this report was finalized.  Previous expirations of the PTC have been correlated to reductions in installations of wind energy facilities