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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This project was supported by Contract No. EC25C001 between the National Academy of Sciences and Executive Office of the President, Council on Environmental Quality. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-10834-8 (Book) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-10834-9 (Book) International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-10835-5 (PDF) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-10835-7 (PDF) Library of Congress Control Number 2007931763 Cover design by Liza Hamilton, National Research Council. Photograph of 1.5 mW turbines at San Gorgonio, CA, by David Policansky, National Research Council. Graph adapted from Figure 1-1, which was reproduced with permission from the American Wind Energy Association. Additional copies of this report are available from The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti-tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF WIND-ENERGY PROJECTS Members PAUL RISSER (Chair), University of Oklahoma, Norman INGRID BURKE, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins CHRISTOPHER CLARK, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY MARY ENGLISH, University of Tennessee, Knoxville SIDNEY GAUTHREAUX, JR., Clemson University, Clemson, SC SHERRI GOODMAN, The Center for Naval Analysis, Alexandria, VA JOHN HAYES, University of Florida, Gainesville ARPAD HORVATH, University of California, Berkeley THOMAS H. KUNZ, Boston University, Boston, MA LYNN MAGUIRE, Duke University, Durham, NC LANCE MANUEL, University of Texas, Austin ERIK LUNDTANG PETERSEN, Risø National Laboratory, Frederiksborgvej, Denmark DALE STRICKLAND, WEST, Inc., Cheyenne, WY JEAN VISSERING, Jean Vissering Landscape Architecture, Montpelier, VT JAMES RODERICK WEBB, University of Virginia, Charlottesville ROBERT WHITMORE, West Virginia University, Morgantown Staff DAVID POLICANSKY, Study Director RAYMOND WASSEL, Senior Program Officer JAMES ZUCCHETTO, Director, Board on Energy and Environmental Systems MIRSADA KARALIC-LONCAREVIC, Manager, Technical Information Center BRYAN SHIPLEY, Research Associate JOHN H. BROWN, Program Associate JORDAN CRAGO, Senior Project Assistant RADIAH ROSE, Senior Editorial Assistant Sponsor EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY1 Members JONATHAN M. SAMET (Chair), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD RAMÓN ALVAREZ, Environmental Defense, Austin, TX JOHN M. BALBUS, Environmental Defense, Washington, DC DALLAS BURTRAW, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC JAMES S. BUS, Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI COSTEL D. DENSON, University of Delaware, Newark E. DONALD ELLIOTT, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, Washington, DC MARY R. ENGLISH, University of Tennessee, Knoxville J. PAUL GILMAN, Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies, Oak Ridge, TN SHERRI W. GOODMAN, Center for Naval Analyses, Alexandria, VA JUDITH A. GRAHAM, American Chemistry Council, Arlington, VA WILLIAM P. HORN, Birch, Horton, Bittner and Cherot, Washington, DC JAMES H. JOHNSON, JR., Howard University, Washington, DC WILLIAM M. LEWIS, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder JUDITH L. MEYER, University of Georgia, Athens DENNIS D. MURPHY, University of Nevada, Reno PATRICK Y. O’BRIEN, ChevronTexaco Energy Technology Company, Richmond, CA DOROTHY E. PATTON (retired), Chicago, IL DANNY D. REIBLE, University of Texas, Austin JOSEPH V. RODRICKS, ENVIRON International Corporation, Arlington, VA ARMISTEAD G. RUSSELL, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta ROBERT F. SAWYER, University of California, Berkeley LISA SPEER, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY KIMBERLY M. THOMPSON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MONICA G. TURNER, University of Wisconsin, Madison MARK J. UTELL, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY CHRIS G. WHIPPLE, ENVIRON International Corporation, Emeryville, CA LAUREN ZEISE, California Environmental Protection Agency, Oakland Senior Staff JAMES J. REISA, Director DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Scholar 1 This study was planned, overseen, and supported by the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology.
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects RAYMOND A. WASSEL, Senior Program Officer for Environmental Sciences and Engineering KULBIR BAKSHI, Senior Program Officer for Toxicology EILEEN N. ABT, Senior Program Officer for Risk Analysis KARL E. GUSTAVSON, Senior Program Officer K. JOHN HOLMES, Senior Program Officer ELLEN K. MANTUS, Senior Program Officer SUSAN N. J. MARTEL, Senior Program Officer STEVEN K. GIBB, Program Officer for Strategic Communications RUTH E. CROSSGROVE, Senior Editor
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects OTHER REPORTS OF THE BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY Scientific Review of the Proposed Risk Assessment Bulletin from the Office of Management and Budget (2007) Assessing the Human Health Risks of Trichloroethylene: Key Scientific Issues (2006) New Source Review for Stationary Sources of Air Pollution (2006) Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Chemicals (2006) Health Risks from Dioxin and Related Compounds: Evaluation of the EPA Reassessment (2006) Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards (2006) State and Federal Standards for Mobile-Source Emissions (2006) Superfund and Mining Megasites—Lessons from the Coeur d’Alene River Basin (2005) Health Implications of Perchlorate Ingestion (2005) Air Quality Management in the United States (2004) Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River (2004) Atlantic Salmon in Maine (2004) Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin (2004) Cumulative Environmental Effects of Alaska North Slope Oil and Gas Development (2003) Estimating the Public Health Benefits of Proposed Air Pollution Regulations (2002) Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices (2002) The Airliner Cabin Environment and Health of Passengers and Crew (2002) Arsenic in Drinking Water: 2001 Update (2001) Evaluating Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Programs (2001) Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act (2001) A Risk-Management Strategy for PCB-Contaminated Sediments (2001) Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals (five volumes, 2000-2007) Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury (2000) Strengthening Science at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2000) Scientific Frontiers in Developmental Toxicology and Risk Assessment (2000) Ecological Indicators for the Nation (2000) Waste Incineration and Public Health (2000) Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment (1999) Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter (four volumes, 1998-2004) The National Research Council’s Committee on Toxicology: The First 50 Years (1997) Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens in the Human Diet (1996) Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest (1996) Science and the Endangered Species Act (1995) Wetlands: Characteristics and Boundaries (1995) Biologic Markers (five volumes, 1989-1995) Review of EPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (three volumes, 1994-1995) Science and Judgment in Risk Assessment (1994) Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children (1993) Dolphins and the Tuna Industry (1992) Science and the National Parks (1992) Human Exposure Assessment for Airborne Pollutants (1991) Rethinking the Ozone Problem in Urban and Regional Air Pollution (1991) Decline of the Sea Turtles (1990) Copies of these reports may be ordered from the National Academies Press (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 www.nap.edu
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Preface The generation of electricity from wind energy is surprisingly controversial. At first glance, obtaining electricity from a free source of energy—the wind—seems to be an optimum contribution to the nation’s goal of energy independence and to solving the problem of climate warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. As with many first glances, however, a deeper inspection results in a more complicated story. How wind turbines are viewed depends to some degree on the environment and people’s predilections, but not everyone considers them beautiful. Building wind-energy installations with large numbers of turbines can disrupt landscapes and habitats, and the rotating turbine blades sometimes kill birds and bats. Calculating how much wind energy currently displaces other, presumably less-desirable, energy sources is complicated, and predicting future displacements is surrounded by uncertainties. Although the use of wind energy has grown rapidly in the past 25 years, frequently subsidized by governments at various levels and in many countries eager to promote cleaner alternative energy sources, regulatory systems and planning processes for these projects are relatively immature in the United States. At the national scale, regulation is minimal, unless the project receives federal funding, and the regulations are generic for construction and management projects or are promulgated as guidelines. Regulation at the state and local level is variable among jurisdictions, some with well-developed policies and others with little or no framework, relying on local zoning ordinances. There are virtually no policy or regulatory frameworks at the multistate regional scale, although of course the impacts and benefits of wind-energy installations are not constrained by political boundaries.
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects This is the complex scientific and policy environment in which the committee worked to address its responsibility to study the environmental impacts of wind energy, including the adverse and beneficial effects. Among the specified considerations were the impacts on landscapes, viewsheds, wildlife, habitats, water resources, air pollution, greenhouse gases, materials-acquisition costs, and other impacts. The committee drew on information from throughout the United States and abroad, but by its charge, focused on the Mid-Atlantic Highlands (a mountainous region in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia). Using existing information, the committee was able to develop a framework for evaluating those effects; we hope this framework can inform future siting decisions of wind-energy projects. Often, there is insufficient information to provide certainty for these decisions, and thus in the process of its work the committee identified major research needed to improve the assessment of impacts and inform the siting and operational decisions of wind-energy projects. The committee membership included diverse areas of expertise needed to address the committee’s charge. Committee members originated from across the United States, and one hails from Denmark, adding to the international perspective of the study. Members represented the public and private sectors, and numerous natural and social science disciplines. But most important, the committee worked together as a cohesive group in deciding what issues were important and how important, examining issues from multiple perspectives, recognizing and dealing with biases, framing questions and issues in formats that would convey information effectively to decision makers, and considering, respecting, and reconciling differences of opinion, judgment, and interpretation. The committee broadly defined “environmental” impacts to include traditional environmental measures such as species, habitats, and air and water quality, but attention was also devoted to aesthetic, cultural, recreational, social, and economic impacts. The committee recognized that the planning, policy, and regulatory considerations were paramount if information about impacts was to be translated into informed decision making. Finally, because decision making about wind-energy projects occurs at a variety of geographic and jurisdictional levels, the committee paid careful attention to scale issues as it addressed impacts and benefits. The benefits of wind energy depend on the degree to which the adverse effects of other energy sources can be reduced by using wind energy instead of the other sources. Assessing those benefits is complicated. The generation of electricity by wind energy can itself have adverse effects, and projecting the amount of wind-generated electricity available in the future is quite uncertain. In addition, the amount of potential displacement of other energy sources depends on characteristics of the energy market, operation of the transmission grid, capacity factor of the wind-energy generators as well
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects as that of other types of electricity generators, and regulatory policies and practices affecting the production of greenhouse gases. Even if the amount of energy that wind energy displaces is small, it is clear that the nation will depend on multiple energy sources for the foreseeable future and reduction of environmental impacts will thereby require multiple approaches. The committee began its work expecting that there would be measurable environmental impacts, including biological and socioeconomic impacts, and that there would be inadequate data from which to issue definitive, broadly applicable determinations. Given the complexity of the electric-power industry, the dynamics of energy markets, and the rapidity of technological change, we also expected that predicting the environmental benefits of wind energy would be challenging. On the other hand, the lack of any truly coordinated planning, policy, and regulatory framework at all jurisdictional levels loomed larger than expected throughout our deliberations. Although some predictions about future adverse environmental effects of wind-energy use can be made, the committee recognized gaps in our knowledge and recommended specific monitoring studies that will enable more rigorous siting and operational decisions in the future. Similarly, the report includes descriptions of measures of social impacts of wind-energy development, and recommends studies that would improve our understanding of these impacts. The complexity of assessing the environmental impacts of wind-energy development can be organized in a three-dimensional action space. These dimensional axes include spatial jurisdictions (local, state/regional, and federal), timing of project stages (pre-project, construction, operational, and post-operational) and environmental and human impacts, each of which include their own time and space considerations. The committee evaluated these issues in offering an evaluation guide for organizing the assessment of environmental impacts. We hope that the results of these deliberations and the evaluations and observations in this report will significantly improve the nation’s ability to plan, regulate, and assess the impacts of wind-energy development. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Jan Beyea, Consulting in the Public Interest Dallas Burtraw, Resources for the Future Michael Corradini, University of Wisconsin-Madison Samuel Enfield, PPM Atlantic Renewable Chris Hendrickson, Carnegie Mellon University Alan Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation Mark Jacobson, Stanford University Kevin Porter, Exeter Associates Paul Kerlinger, Curry & Kerlinger, LLC Ronald Larkin, Illinois Natural History Survey Martin Pasqualetti, Arizona State University John Sherwell, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Linda Spiegel, California Energy Commission James Walker, enXco, Inc. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by the review coordinator, Gordon H. Orians of the University of Washington (emeritus), and the review monitor, Elsa M. Garmire of Dartmouth College. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. The committee gratefully acknowledges the following for making presentations to the committee: Dick Anderson (WEST, Inc.), Edward Arnett (Bat Conservation International), Dinah Bear (Council on Environmental Quality), Gwenda Brewer (Maryland Department of Natural Resources), Daniel Boone (Consultant), Steve Brown (West Virginia Department of Natural Resources), Richard Cowart (The Regulatory Assistance Project), Samuel Enfield (PPM Atlantic Renewable), Ken Hamilton (Whitewater Energy), Alex Hoar (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Judith Holyoke Schoyer Rodd (Friends of the Blackwater), Tom Kerr (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Julia Levin (California Audubon), Patricia McClure (Government Accountability Office), The Honorable Alan B. Mollohan (U.S. Representative, WV 1st Congressional District), Kevin Rackstraw (American Wind Energy Association Siting Committee), Dennis Scullion (EnXco, Inc.), John Sherwell (Maryland Department of Natural Resources), Craig Stihler (West Virginia Department of Natural Resources), Robert Thresher (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), James A. Walker (EnXco, Inc.), and Carl Zichella (Sierra Club). In addition, John Reynolds and Joseph Kerecman
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects of PJM Interconnection and officials of Dominion Resources provided helpful information to the committee through personal communications; Laurie Jodziewicz of the American Wind Energy Association, Nancy Rader of the California Wind Energy Association, and Linda White of the Kern Wind Energy Association provided helpful information and contacts. We also thank Wayne Barwikowski and his colleagues at enXco, Inc. for their informative and helpful tour of the San Gorgonio (Palm Springs) wind-energy facility. The committee’s work was enhanced in every way by the extraordinary work of the project director, David Policansky, who provided endless sound advice, insightful expertise, and just good sense. The committee offers David its sincere gratitude for his attentive assistance and for his good fellowship throughout the project, which involved five meetings in five different locations with field trips to several wind-energy installations and public hearings. Ray Wassel and James Zucchetto also provided valuable help in framing questions, analyzing literature, and clarifying our thought processes and writings. Bryan Shipley helped to identify relevant literature and to summarize it for the committee. John Brown helped with meeting planning, including arranging field trips and helping to make sure that the committee arrived where it was supposed to be and returned in good condition. Jordan Crago supported the committee in so many ways that I cannot list them all, but they include literature searching and verification (along with Mirsada Karalic-Loncarevic), organizing drafts and committee comments, and keeping the committee housed and fed. Finally, Board Director James Reisa provided his usual wise counsel at difficult times, and his comments have improved the clarity and relevance of this report. We are grateful to them all. Finally, I want to offer a personal note of appreciation to the committee and the staff. This was an extraordinary group of people, all with outstanding credentials but many points of view, who came together over the past two years to address an important and challenging topic. During this time they listened to each other, helped each other, and worked incredibly hard. It has been an honor to chair the committee, and my life has been enriched by the time and talents of my committee colleagues. Paul G. Risser, Chair Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 15 Generating Electricity from Wind Energy, 17 The Present Study, 21 Developing an Analytical Framework, 22 Temporal and Spatial Scales of Analysis, 24 Understanding and Assessing Cumulative Environmental Effects, 25 Organization of the Report, 27 2 CONTEXT FOR ANALYSIS OF EFFECTS OF WIND-POWERED ELECTRICITY GENERATION IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE MID-ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS 28 Estimating the Environmental Benefits of Generating Electricity from Wind Energy, 28 Wind Energy Globally, 41 Quantifying Wind-Energy Benefits in the United States and the Mid-Atlantic Highlands, 42 Conclusions, 64 3 ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF WIND-ENERGY DEVELOPMENT 67 Chapter Overview, 67 Introduction, 69
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Bird Deaths in Context, 71 Turbines Cause Fatalities to Birds and Bats, 72 Bird and Bat Fatalities, 73 Wind-Energy Projects Alter Ecosystem Structure, 103 Projected Cumulative Impacts of Bird and Bat Fatalities: A Working Hypothesis, 122 Conclusions and Recommendations, 129 4 IMPACTS OF WIND-ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ON HUMANS 140 Introduction, 140 Aesthetic Impacts, 141 Cultural Impacts, 153 Impacts on Human Health and Well-Being, 156 Local Economic and Fiscal Impacts, 162 Electromagnetic Interference, 169 Conclusions and Recommendations, 173 General Conclusions and Recommendations, 178 5 PLANNING FOR AND REGULATING WIND-ENERGY DEVELOPMENT 180 Guidelines for Wind-Energy Planning and Regulation, 181 Regulation of Wind-Energy Development, 191 Framework for Reviewing Wind-Energy Proposals, 210 Conclusions and Recommendations, 213 REFERENCES 219 APPENDIXES A ABOUT THE AUTHORS 269 B EMISSION RATES FOR ELECTRICAL GENERATION 276 C METHODS AND METRICS FOR WILDLIFE STUDIES 279 D A VISUAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT PROCESS FOR EVALUATING WIND-ENERGY PROJECTS 349
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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects
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