PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (8): 1017-1026.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.08.011

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research progress of wind farm impact on the environment

Guoqing LI1(), Xiaobing LI2,3   

  1. 1. School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Ludong University, Yantai 264025, Shandong, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing 100875, China
    3. College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Online:2016-08-25 Published:2016-08-25
  • Supported by:
    Higher Education Science and Technology Program of Shandong Province, No.J16LH51, No.J16LH02;National Key Basic Research Program of China, No.2014CB138803;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41601598


Wind energy is generally considered a clean and environmentally friendly renewable energy source that can reduce societal dependence on fossil fuels. Wind energy has rapidly developed in recent years; developing technologies and the relatively low cost of wind energy production will make it a significant energy source in the future. At present, China's energy policy is gradually including wind energy. However, the environmental impact of installing and operating wind farms has not been thoroughly investigated. Although the impact of a wind farm will be a gradual process over a long period of time, and the impact may be difficult to measure, any environmental impacts cannot be ignored. Through analyzing the research status in China and internationally, this article summarizes eight aspects of wind farm impact, including on climatic change, vegetation, soil, and C/N cycle. In addition, this article summarizes the methods employed for evaluating the impacts. Finally, eight areas of concern may need to be investigated in the future to assess the impact of wind farms on the environment: (1) to evaluate the impact of wind farms on climate, more precise climate models need to be established or improved; (2) to explore the effect of wind farms on animals, it is necessary to identify what environmental factors play a decisive role in the activities of the animals, and whether these factors are universal in different wind farms; (3) to analyze and detect the impact of wind farms on vegetation, it is necessary to comprehensively use remote sensing monitoring and ecological survey methods to accurately identify the response mechanisms of different terrestrial ecosystems; (4) to study the impact of wind farms on the carbon and nitrogen cycles of the ecosystem, it is necessary to improve the acquisition of measured data, especially data acquisition over a long period of time, so as to form a long-term observation sequence for the analysis of greater spatial and temporal scale; (5) the impact of wind farms in different regions of the world on various environmental factors is not exactly the same. The study of a typical area to reflect the common problems of wind farm impact on the environment is a feasible approach at present; (6) while focusing on wind energy development, we also need to protect the productivity and biodiversity of the whole terrestrial ecosystems. Only on this basis can we accurately evaluate the relationship between wind farms and sustainable development; (7) in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) stage before the construction of wind farms, the current environmental impact assessment guidelines and standards should be improved, and the long-term complex influence of wind, solar, and other new energy on the environment should be taken into full account; (8) as the world's wind energy superpower, China should timely establish long-term observation and experiment stations to quantify the process, and emphasize the impact of wind farms on the environment from the broader temporal and spatial perspectives.

Key words: wind farm, environmental impact, global change, terrestrial ecosystem, research progress