Wind Project Site Selection

photo of wind turbines on a farm

Careful wind farm or wind turbine siting aims to support responsible wind energy development and eliminate negative impacts to wildlife and local communities.

Careful siting, continued research, and thoughtful public engagement with an emphasis on optimizing coexistence are elements that support responsible wind energy development, minimizing or eliminating negative impacts to wildlife and local communities. The following resources aid in the critical project planning step of site selection for a wind turbine or wind farm.

Wind maps and anemometer data help developers, homeowners, communities, states, and regions make informed decisions and plan for wind energy development. WINDExchange provides resource maps for land-based utility-scale, community-scale, offshore, and residential-scale wind development.

Permitting information. Securing necessary permitting and reviews is a legal requirement for all energy projects to ensure compliance with state, federal, and local policies and regulations. Learn about securing necessary permits and reviews and organizations working to address issues related to permitting wind projects.

Siting on public lands or in public waters provide lease payments to the state and other relevant jurisdictions in close proximity to the installations. These projects require additional siting and permitting work by developers and regulatory bodies.

Siting community wind installations. Community wind projects allow local organizations to develop local projects that result in more economic benefits to the community than conventional wind projects developed by companies with limited local ties. The Small Community Wind Handbook and Large Community Wind Handbook produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provide siting guidance for developing these types of projects.

Siting small wind turbine installations. The Small Wind Guidebook provides basic information about small wind electric systems, including how to choose the best site for a small wind turbine. The Small Wind Site Assessment Guidelines from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory also provides guidance on siting small wind projects.

Wind energy ordinances. Local governments may create ordinances to regulate wind turbine installations within county or city borders. The WINDExchange website offers a database of state and local wind energy ordinances.

A webinar on siting programs, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in fall 2022, encouraged state energy officials to learn from each other on the topic of siting for renewable energy, especially wind energy, with speakers discussing state siting programs and opportunities to expand support to local jurisdictions. A follow-up webinar in March 2023 focused on highlight challenges and opportunities associated with engaging host communities and improving siting outcomes.

In addition to the above resources, WINDExchange’s resources and tools for selecting wind development sites offers a vast library of research to help with siting decisions.