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The surprising impact of wind turbines on US property prices

The surprising impact of wind turbines on US property prices

Wind turbines have been the target of wild misinformation from Donald Trump’s lies that they kill whales to pseudomedical claims about “wind turbine syndrome”.

They have also been the focus of NIMBY campaigns even by those who, in theory, support renewable energy - just as long as it isn’t built too close to where they live.

But these fears are misplaced, according to a new study, which found wind turbines have only a small, short-term impact on property prices.

At least one wind turbine in a six-mile (10km) radius causes a 1 per cent drop in home value, the researchers found. The negative economic impacts increases as wind turbines get closer to homes. The value of a house can drop by up to 8 per cent when a turbine is built less than a mile (2km) away.

However, only a small number of homes are built in that close proximity. Less than 250,000 American homes are constructed within 2.5miles (4km) of wind turbines, compared to about 8.5 million properties within six miles.

What’s more, the impact on property value diminishes over 20 years until it is no longer detectable, the research revealed.

“[W]hat really surprised me is that the house value bounces back to the original price over the years,” said Maximilian Auffhammer, professor in the agricultural and resource economics department at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the study.

The study also discovered that there was no longer any effect for wind turbines built after 2017, suggesting that people have gotten used to these new structures over time.

Wind turbines operate  near Whitewater, California. A new study has found they have a small impact on property values which decreases over time (Getty Images)
Wind turbines operate near Whitewater, California. A new study has found they have a small impact on property values which decreases over time (Getty Images)

Wind power is the fastest-growing renewable source of electricity in the US, making up around 10 per cent of total US utility-scale generation. From Texas to North Dakota, the giant, spinning blades are now a familiar sight marching across the landscape.

Wind and solar capacity has to at least double in the US in the next ten years to meet the Biden administration’s goal of electricity sector free of fossil fuels by 2035. Globally, solar and wind power is projected to continue at a record-breaking pace, and more than double by 2028, compared with 2022 levels.

The study, published on Monday by a US and European research team, used data from more than 300 million home sales and 60,000 wind turbines in the US between 1997 and 2020. Unlike previous research, the team not only looked at how close homes were to turbines but also their visibility from the property.

“Our research responds to some arguments of local opposition against wind turbines, the classic ‘Not In My Backyard’ problem that is a hot topic not only in the US but also in Europe and Germany”, said Leonie Wenz, a co-author from the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“In the big picture, it’s about finding a balance between the global climatic benefits of renewable energy and the local impacts on communities nearby.

“Our estimates of how wind turbine visibility affects house values could be a basis for compensating local homeowners. However, our study also underlines that these impacts have been small in the last two decades, and that we can expect them to become even less of an issue in the future.”