RSG Principal Ken Kaliski and Senior Analyst Ryan Haac both coauthored a peer-reviewed paper, titled “In the shadow of wind energy: Predicting community exposure and annoyance to wind turbine shadow flicker in the United States,” which was published in the Energy Research & Social Science journal. The paper is also the subject of a webinar on March 11, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. PT). The webinar is free and open to the public.
Ken and Ryan worked with their paper's coauthors from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Vermont Environmental Research Associates, Inc. to model shadow flicker (SF) exposure. SF is the effect of sunlight passing through moving wind turbine blades, which can lead to annoyance among those exposed.
The team modeled shadow flicker exposure at nearly 35,000 US residences across 61 wind projects and surveyed 747 people. The results shed light on what contributed to perceived shadow flicker and annoyance. The team did not find a significant correlation between shadow flicker annoyance and exposure. Instead, the team's model identified a greater correlation with other factors among respondents. These included a person's level of education, age, perception of how wind turbines look, and annoyance at other human-caused sounds.
Research of this nature is increasingly important as the renewable energy market expands. By 2035, the installed capacity of wind energy in the United States will be 600 gigawatts (GW), up from 110 GW now. This will require thousands of new wind projects. To understand how those projects will affect nearby communities, additional research like that undertaken by RSGers for this paper will be necessary to better understand wind turbine shadow flicker exposure.