Changing wind-power landscapes: regional assessment of visual impact on land use and population in Northern Jutland, Denmark

    • Applied Energy. 83, 5 (2006) 477-494
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    After more than 25 years of continuous development, Danish wind-energy landscapes are due for face changes. On-shore construction has ceased and necessary re-powering schemes have not been introduced as yet. Regional planning is discouraging, while conditions for erecting new turbines have become more stringent. One of the factors inhibiting development seems to be uncertainty in planning about the future impact on landscapes. Visual impact has rarely been an issue so far, but ever-increasing turbine size and less local involvement may change this. This paper presents a deterministic approach of determining the likely visual-impact on landscapes and population, taking into account that there is no clear threshold for perceived adverse visual-impact. A geographical information system (GIS) has been used to build a regional landscape model for Northern Jutland County, which is used to assess visibility of turbines in the period of 1990 to 2010, based on historical and planning data. Multiple viewsheds are calculated for various thresholds of visual impact and overlaid with population and land-use data. The results show that a decrease in the number of turbines by about 40% and an increase in installed capacity of 20% will not add to the comparative impact in general. However, the pattern of visibility will become askew, and the present homogenous distribution of visibility will fade. This, together with changing ownership and receding local involvement, could ultimately lead to a decline in the popular acceptance of wind power.