UD professors survey beachgoers on potential implications for offshore wind farms. As the United States moves closer to developing offshore wind farms, one of the most important questions for coastal communities is how those wind farms are going to affect recreation and tourism.

By surveying beachgoers, University of Delaware faculty members George Parsons and Jeremy Firestone found the distance wind turbines are from the beach has a significant impact on how tourists feel about them.  

Using a survey that covered 1,725 beachgoers to be representative of a beachgoing population on the East Coast, the researchers showed participants panning, online visual simulations of a wind power project with 100 six-megawatt wind turbines, 150 meters tall to the tip of the blade at its apex, at different distances from shore and in different conditions — clear, hazy and nighttime.

The wind turbines were assembled into a photomontage put together by Macro Works, a leading firm that has been a premier provider of visual impact analysis and graphics to the Irish wind industry since 1999.

Participants were then asked if the projects would affect their beach experience and/or cause them to change their trip plans. The data was analyzed using an economic model of trip choice. The research was funded by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which leases offshore areas for wind power generation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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