Publication Date


Committee Chair

Mark P. Kumler, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Scott Ryder, M.S.


Wind is a valuable renewable resource supporting a rapidly growing wind energy industry. Executive Order 13212, signed by President George W. Bush in 2001, tasks the Departments of the Interior, Energy, Agriculture, and Defense to work together in support of wind energy development on public lands in the eleven western states. Over 28% of the land area in the eleven western states that is suitable for wind energy production lies under U.S. military training airspace. Since the wind turbines are vertical obstructions to both Special Use Airspace (SUAS) and military training routes (MTRs), this level of geospatial convergence threatens to reduce the viability of this valuable renewable resource.

Technological innovation and modernization within the wind energy industry have pushed wind turbine heights higher into the airspace, beyond the minimum altitudes of some training airspace. This geospatial convergence creates a significant potential for encroachment. To support Executive Order 13212, while protecting training airspace from encroachment, this project assesses the geospatial relationship between military training airspace and wind energy development in the eleven western states.

In follow-on analysis, this project transitions from the regional eleven western states perspective to a focus on the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) in northern Nevada, analyzing 17 areas of interest (AOI) and assessing the potential for encroachment. The objective of the FRTC analysis is to further examine the encroachment conditions around the FRTC and quantify potential encroachment scenarios. The client is Navy Captain Scott Ryder, the Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Fallon who is responsible to a large extent for the oversight of northern Nevada’s military training airspace.

From the perspective of the client, this project yields valuable knowledge and an improved geospatial understanding of the physical relationship between wind energy development and military training airspace. That knowledge and understanding will be directed towards the development of the most appropriate management policy and procedures.

This project effectively predicts the amount of wind energy related encroachment that could occur within the study areas. It also identifies the most likely encroachment points around the FRTC perimeter, where encroachment will most likely occur, and from what direction it will likely come. The project effectively demonstrates fundamental GIS problem solving concepts, integrating many relevant factors, and demonstrating the power and advantage of GIS. This analysis presented in this project does not limit wind energy development, but identifies potential encroachment as well as where wind energy developers should focus and where they should limit their exploration.


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