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Lines in the sound : a regional approach to windfarm design and visualization in Howe Sound Flanders, David

Abstract

Windfarming can provide a reliable, renewable source of energy; its visible presence in the landscape can generate heightened awareness of energy use and sources. Sensitive integration of the technology with the environment is important for promoting sustainability in the region; it must also address public concern for visual quality. This study addresses the siting and design issues raised by proposed windfarms. Three windfarm design scenarios are thus developed and visualized in 3D within the region of Howe Sound, including the town of Squamish, British Columbia. A number of North American and European precedents are examined in terms of public education and acceptance, visual impacts, arrangement and public involvement. Initially, eleven sites within the region are considered in total, based on stakeholder, community and expert analysis. Site analysis is composed of a wind resource and visual inventory, and viewshed analysis. This highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the potential sites. A series of principles identify cultural, aesthetic and pragmatic rationale to guide the site selection process, and evaluating certain sites and designs as being better or worse than others. Design criteria which are explicit and measurable are developed for these principles, providing targets for site selection, informing design process and serving as a baseline for design analysis. Three favourable sites that will best cater to these motivations are selected for windfarm design and visualization. These designs are quantitatively and qualitatively assessed based on their adherence to the design criteria, and are ranked according to how well they satisfy the aesthetic, cultural and pragmatic principles for windfarming. A set of final recommendations for Squamish are offered that will facilitate planning and help to build citizen awareness building process for development of a wind resource industry in the region.

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