Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy: a literature review.

Clarke, Alexander David (1995). Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy: a literature review. BPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fb99


A selection of the literature describing the environmental impacts of eight different renewable energy sources is reviewed; hydro, biomass, geothermal, wind, tidal, solar, wave and ocean thermal.

The importance and status of environmental impacts to renewable energy sources is discussed and the character of the literature is considered. Starting with hydro electric power, the literature encompasses different perspectives; advocates of expansion of HEP due to its environmental advantages, or those stressing ecological and geomorphological impacts on flora, fauna. Some reviews concern environmental protection policy, involving tradeoffs, policy choices and bargaining. The environmental impacts of various sources of biomass such as forestry, agriculture, domestic and industrial wastes, and biofuels are reviewed. Biomass production and conversion is covered through assessment of soil resources and net energy output, energy forestry impacts, pollution from combustion, improved technologies such as gassification, and incineration of wastes and landfill gas. Geothermal energy's impacts are discussed through reviewing literature concerning air, water, seismicity, and noise pollution, land use, subsidence and some protection policy developments. The impacts of wind energy are similarly covered by topic: visual impact, noise, safety, electromagnetic intereference, wildlife, land use, public acceptability and planning. Several works on tidal energy are reviewed including most of the existing tidal energy plants, in terms of impact on flora, fauna, water quality, sediments, drainage and flooding. Solar energy's impacts are considered for the various different technologies; passive, thermal, concentrator, photovoltaic, and the impacts of manufacturing. Some studies of potential impacts from wave energy have been reviewed and one of ocean thermal energy. A chapter reviews the general renewable environmental impact literature, and another provides a brief overview of the valuation and costing of impacts. The final chapter considers the role and effects of environmental impact studies on the development of the technology.

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