Visual Impact Evaluation of Wind Farms: a Case Study of Choshi City, Japan

Qianna Wang, Martin Mwirigi M’Ikiugu, Isami Kinoshita


Visual impact is considered as one of the main impacts of wind farms, and a leading cause of public opposition. In Japan, attention has been paid to wind farms’ visual impact in high scenic value areas such as National Parks, but no attention paid to local levels. There is also lack of integrated visual impact evaluation method at both city and community levels. To solve these problems, this study focused on local areas and proposed a GIS-based integrated methodology for visual impact evaluation of wind farms at both city and community levels. At the city level, we carried out an evaluation by quantifying change of wind turbine visible area (Zone of Visual Influence) of wind farms using GIS Viewshed Analysis. At the community level, we evaluated the visual impact of wind farms using the Spanish Method, combined with a questionnaire survey. Although wind energy is developing at a quick pace in some Asia countries, visual impact related research has been lacking. In Japan, Wind energy may become a popular energy source for local use in the coming few decades and play a vital role in the post-earthquake reconstruction. For this reason, we verified the above methodology with Choshi City in Japan as the case study, thus providing empirical evidence of applying the Spanish Method in an Asian country. This methodology facilitates understanding of the visibility conditions of wind farms’ infrastructure to planners, investors, and policy makers, hoping to contribute to expansion of knowledge on visual impact evaluation of wind power facilities that might become important in the future cities.

Keywords: Visual impact evaluation, GIS, viewshed analysis, wind farm, Japan.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5790 ISSN (Online)2225-0514

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