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Wind Turbines and the Environment: Landscape

Hints About Landscape Architecture and Wind Turbines

Kappel Wind farm Kappel Wind FarmWind turbines are always highly visible elements in the landscape. Otherwise they are not located properly from a meteorological point of view, cf. the page on wind turbine siting.
The image to the left shows the wind farm at Kappel, Denmark. It is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing layout of any wind farm known to this author. The shape of the dike along the coastline is repeated in the line of turbines.
There is one disturbing element in the picture above: The single turbine next to the farmhouse, which interrupts the otherwise smooth pattern of turbines. (That turbine was there before the wind farm was built).


Simple Geometrical Patterns
In flat areas it is often a good idea to place turbines in a simple geometrical pattern which is easily perceived by the viewer. Turbines placed equidistantly in a straight line work well, but the example in the picture above may be even more elegant, where landscape contours invite such a solution.
There are limits to the usefulness of being dogmatic about using simple geometrical patterns, however:
In hilly landscapes it is rarely feasible to use a simple pattern, and it usually works better to the the turbines follow the altitude contours of the landscape, or the fencing or other characteristic features of the landscape.
Whenever turbines are placed in several rows, one will rarely be able to perceive the pattern when the park is viewed from normal eye level. Only when one is standing at the end of a row, does it really appear as an ordered layout. In the next panorama picture, you will probably only be able to discern three rows of turbines, while the rest appear to be scattered around the landscape.



Photo from Naesudden, Gotland, Sweden, Courtesy of Suzanne Clemmesen
Photograph © 1997
by Suzanne Clemmesen


Light Grey Paint
The picture above shows one of the larger groupings of Danish built wind turbines at Näsudden on the island of Gotland in Sweden. The grey paint on the turbines make them blend well into the landscape.

Size of Wind Turbines
Large wind turbines enable the same amount of energy to be produced with fewer wind turbines. There may be economic advantages to this, such as lower maintenance costs.
From an aesthetic point of view, large wind turbines may be an advantage in the landscape, because they generally have lower rotational speed than smaller turbines. Large turbines therefore do not attract the eye the way fast-moving objects generally do.

People's Perception of Wind Turbines in the Landscape
To a large extent it is a matter of taste how people perceive that wind turbines fit into the landscape.
Numerous studies in Denmark, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands have revealed that people who live near wind turbines are generally more favourable towards them than city dwellers. You may find more details about these studies in the article Public Attitudes Toward Wind Power on this web site.
A beautiful book of photographic examples of Wind Turbines in the Landscape may be purchased from Birk Nielsens Tegnestue, Aarhus, Denmark. The price is approximately 150 DKK, plus postage.



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Updated 26 September 2000