Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors of renewable energy in the United States. About 3% of the total electricity in the United States was generated by wind turbines in 2012 (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), which is equivalent to the annual electricity use for about 12 million households. In response to the Department of Interior’s Powering Our Future initiative, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun investigating how to assess the impacts of wind energy development on wildlife at a national scale.
The first step in understanding the impact of wind energy development is to determine where the wind turbines are located – Enter the USGS WindFarm Mapping Application, which allows users to access the more than 47,000 individual wind turbines contained within the national wind turbine database. This view shows facilities in Southern California, color-coded for their wind-generating capacity. The red and yellow turbines have a higher electricity-generating capacity than the green and blue turbines do.