Blowing in the wind: evaluating wind energy projects on the national forests

  • Authors: Schlichting, Kerry; Mercer, Evan
  • Publication Year: 2011
  • Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
  • Source: Journal of Forestry, Geospatial Technologies 109(3):157-166


The 650 million ac of federal lands are facing increased scrutiny for wind energy development. As a result, the US Forest Service has been directed to develop policies and procedures for siting wind energy projects. We incorporate geospatial site suitability analysis with applicable policy and management principles to illustrate the use of a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) for evaluating the potential for wind energy development in the national forests. The SDSS is applied in a case study of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests (N&PNF), ranked by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as one of the top 25 national forests for wind energy development based on wind power, distance from transmission lines, distance from major roads, inventoried roadless areas and other specially designated areas, distance from urban areas, and topography (Karsteadt, R. et al. 2005. Assessing the potential for renewable energy on National Forest Systems lands. National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the US For. Serv. Available online at www. wind/pdfs/pdfs/36759.pdf; last accessed Mar. 14, 2009). Our analysis further evaluates the N&PNF potential for wind energy development using 16 environmental, construction, land designation, and policy variables. We find that the majority of the N&PF is highly sensitive or exclusionary to wind energy development. Recommendations include the need for agencywide clarification of evaluation criteria for wind energy projects and prioritization of variables for evaluating future wind projects.

  • Citation: Schlichting, Kerry; Mercer, Evan 2011. Blowing in the wind: evaluating wind energy projects on the national forests. Journal of Forestry, Geospatial Technologies 109(3):157-166.
  • Keywords: wind energy, geo-spatial analysis, national forests, spatial decision support system
  • Posted Date: August 1, 2011
  • Modified Date: September 20, 2011
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