Dr. Virginia Winder Part of Major Wind Energy Study

Dr. Virginia Winder Part of Major Wind Energy Study

Benedictine College Professor Works to Determine Environmental Impact

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dr. Virginia WinderWind is one of the cleanest forms of energy production available. But it takes the construction of massive turbines installed on land and sea, which can impact the environment of birds, fish and other living things in the area. So, what is the balance between clean energy and the disruption of natural habitats, and how can the environmental impact be mitigated? Dr. Virginia Winder, associate professor of Biology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., was part of a major national research study that attempts to answer those questions. The Ecological Society of America (ESA) published the new report, “Impacts to Wildlife of Wind Energy Siting and Operation in the United States,” in its latest Issues in Ecology journal.

“It was great to be involved with this group of researchers to put this project together,” Winder said. “This document takes the current state of evidence regarding wind energy and wildlife, brings together studies conducted across the country, and communicates what those studies mean collectively for future development and management of the interactions between wind energy infrastructure and wildlife. Making the public aware of those kinds of connections and that synthesis is a cornerstone of good science.”

An increase in the generation of wind energy is a key component of the U.S. strategy to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector. The report examines wind-wildlife interactions and summarizes what is known about wind energy impacts on sensitive wildlife and on where these species live.

“ESA’s most recent peer-reviewed Issues in Ecology brings together the best available science on interactions between wildlife and wind installations,” said ESA Executive Director Catherine O’Riordan. “Understanding how to minimize the impacts to wildlife from renewable energy sources like wind energy are integral to address climate change and preserve ecosystems that sustain life on Earth.”

According to ESA, a unique aspect to this research is that the wind industry has proactively sought to collect data about its impact on wildlife and to invest in solutions. As a result, more is known about how wind affects wildlife than about any other energy generation source. Studies suggest that properly-sited wind energy facilities using measures to reduce the risk to wildlife, have the lowest environmental impact of any energy generation source.

The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named in the Top 10 in the Midwest of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.