Visual Simulations Allay NIMBY and Other Stakeholder Concerns on Renewable Energy Developments

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Not in my backyard (NIMBY-ism) is a very real and prevalent challenge facing the renewable energy world, which can cause serious delays, and in some cases, project cancellation. Now, however, new visual simulation tools can help allay the often misconceived stakeholder fears and keep projects on budget and on track.

'Not in my backyard’, or NIMBY-ism, is a very real and prevalent challenge facing the renewable energy world. It causes serious delays in delivering on-time and on-budget projects, and in some cases, has led to projects being cancelled. Now, however, new visual simulation tools can help allay stakeholder fears and keep projects on track.

NIMBY opposition is generally the result of misconceptions on the part of land-owners and other key stakeholders that their views, landscapes, habitats, and even airspace, may be adversely affected by renewable energy projects. While opposition to ‘dirty’ power does exist, the high visual impact of renewable energies has often lead to greater opposition than is experienced by its less visible ‘brown energy’ counterpart.

Most recently, the Cape Wind and Great Lakes projects have experienced community pushback, which has resulted in project delays of many years. These projects not only offer jobs but also clean, green energy and an additional revenue stream for local governments.

The bigger picture

Measures to combat such objections have been developed and successfully implemented by a New Zealand-based company, Truescape. One method, time-lapse simulations, using actual site data (wind speed, wind angle, sun beams, turbine dimensions and rotational speed) can accurately depict how a wind farm would appear under the climatic conditions experienced during the course of a day,from dawn to darkness.

According to Dan Stone, VP of Truescape North America: "3D simulation technology has now reached a level of sophistication which can significantly expedite consultation and permitting, and create real cost savings for renewable energy developers."

Stone explains that survey-accurate photo and video 3D simulations —which show how a project will look at completion — are a way to comprehensively rebut misinformation and reassure stakeholders as to the true extent of visual effects from a proposed wind farm.

Recently the industry has experienced an increasing number of objections relating to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lighting, something that has proven to be very difficult to re-create and therefore to address effectively with objectors.

The effect of FAA lighting has previously been excluded in 3D visualizations, because of difficulties capturing suitable photography at night, and also because static photo-simulations could not capture the intermittent appearance of lights.

But using time-lapse technology, it is now possible to accurately communicate the true effects of FAA lighting as the sun goes down. This level of detail reassures interested parties that there is a responsible and transparent approach to communicating the environmental effects of the project.

Environmental impact mitigation

There is also the very real question of whether the development of wind energy generating turbines has a negative impact on wildlife.

Stone comments: “Most value is gained when a ‘base model’ simulation is commissioned early. This enables all stakeholders — including lawyers, engineers, planners, landscape architects, local/regional regulators and others — to view and discuss a wind farm proposal in the context of the surrounding environment. Contentious issues can be identified early, reducing the risk of ‘show-stopper’ surprises down the track, and accelerating decision making through each stage of the project lifecycle.”

Join Dan Stone at the US Wind Energy Project Site Selection Conference in Boston on June 29-30. This site selection-critical conference will outline up to the minute information on the opportunities for the building out of renewable energy projects and workable strategies to mitigate any unforeseen or potential blocks and / or delays, with key speakers from E.ON, First Wind, enXco Geronimo Wind, FERC, BLM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, DoD, NORAD, AWS Truewind, Tetra Tech and many more.

For more information on the event and on how to attend please contact:

Jon Harman
Wind Energy Update
1800 184 3459 ext 7577
+44(0) 207 375 7577

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Jon Harman
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