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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects
be engineered, including the amount of cut and fill, locations, and clearing required. This information forms the basis for all aesthetic review.
PROJECT VISIBILITY AND LANDSCAPE CONTEXT
A number of tools and techniques are available for determining visibility and for describing relevant landscape and project characteristics. The key techniques outlined below often are required as part of a permit application.
Computer Viewshed Analysis
Computer-generated maps based on digital-elevation models (DEMs) illustrate where any hypothetical point (such as the tip of a turbine blade) could potentially be visible within a given area, such as a 10-mile radius around the proposed project (Figure D-1). They also can indicate approximately how many turbines are likely to be visible from a given point. They are based on digital-terrain modeling and may not account for surface elements like vegetation or buildings that might block views. Field analysis is essential to verify actual visibility. It also is possible to do a “partial viewshed analysis,” which examines the visibility of particular turbines, or to look at a particularly sensitive viewing point on the ground to examine an area of potential visibility.
Line-of-Sight Visual Analysis
When complex topography makes it difficult to determine whether a particular turbine or other object will be visible from a particular point, a line-of-sight analysis can provide a useful check (Figure D-2).
Several types of simulations can be used to help predict how the project will appear. Photographic simulations or photomontages based on still photographs taken from selected viewpoints are the most common (Figures D-3 and D-4). Some professionals prefer 3D visualization models, which create a digital image from selected viewpoints. These images eliminate the variability and lack of clarity in some photographs and can depict conditions ranging from clear blue skies to nighttime lighting conditions, but they are not as realistic in appearance and details as a photographic simulation. Animated simulations illustrate the rotation of the blades on the turbines at accurate speeds. Photographic simulations generally show only a narrow window of a particular view (wide-angle lenses result in inaccurate perspec-