By Climate Scorecard Indonesia Country Manager Ruby Orin
One best practice associated with wind power is construction impact mitigation. Given that wind farms have to be built in a designated environment, it is good to evaluate the grounds upon which they are being built to minimize the impact of the wind farm on the establishment. This practice involves extensive evaluation of the land’s soil stability and assessment of the impact on animals living in the area. This is not a technologically advanced practice; it mostly consists of assessments of the territory to determine how suitable the designated environment is for construction. It also determines how construction will affect the communities that exist around the area. Assessments can include measuring the durability of soil and the status of vegetation, for example. A goal of this practice is ensuring waste generated during construction can be properly disposed of. These projects demand people with the ability to conduct multiple time-consuming assessments.
An example of where this practice occurred was during the construction of Glacier Hills Wind Farm Project constructed by Wisconsin Electric Power Company in 2010. This project accomplished a variety of environmental impact assessments. Evaluations of potential construction sites were conducted to avoid interfering with species habitats. Plans were put in place to dispose of hazardous waste materials properly. Additionally, a test of the impact towards bird and bat populations occurred before and after construction.
This practice seeks to ensure that the environment in which the construction of wind farms takes place does not harm any existing wildlife or plant life. Another aim of the practice is minimizing pollution through effective and sustainable waste management. It is hard to estimate how much this practice serves to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but it is a sustainable way to integrate infrastructure into the environment. It is most notably effective in mitigating the impact new infrastructure has on wildlife as many areas that are designated for construction may harbor communities of animals.
In regards to waste management operations and wildlife protection in fossil fuel-intensive areas, wind power is much more efficient and sustainable. The extraction of fossil fuels often has extensive monetary and environmental costs. Fracking, for example, can lead to methane leaks. Although this can be reduced through improved waste management technics, it is very hard to avoid it entirely. Therefore, in comparison, it is less costly and more efficient to implement wind power.
Scaling up this practice in Indonesia will require extensive manpower and collaborations with environmental and wildlife preservation organizations to come to the best conclusion. This would not be a difficult task in Indonesia as there are many organizations and research centers dedicated to the preservation of the country’s biodiversity. As Indonesia is home to a vast number of wildlife animals and plants, it is very important to implement this practice to integrate wind power into the environment in a sustainable manner.
The first wind farm project in Indonesia is the Sindrap Wind Farm located in South Sulawesi. To an extent, the completion of this project used construction impact mitigation as a best practice. This project worked with the local communities surrounding the area to ensure corporate social responsibility and proper management. To improve on this practice if ever the project is expanded, wildlife preservation institutions should be consulted to minimize the impact construction has on wildlife in surrounding areas. Impact mitigation would also be useful for countries who want to sustainably harness wind power but find the practice has had an impact on the behavioral patterns or habitats of their wildlife.