Lead Session Chair:
Stephan Barth, Managing Director, ForWind - Center for Wind Energy Research, Germany
Paul Janssen (1) F P
(1) Wind Minds, Hengelo (Ov.), The Netherlands
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Presenter's biographyBiographies are supplied directly by presenters at OFFSHORE 2015 and are published here unedited
Mr. Janssen has been working in wind energy and environmental consultancy for the past six years. He is currently employed as an energy and environment consultant at Wind Minds in the Netherlands, specializing in wind energy. He holds a MSc. degree in Social and Political Sciences of the environment through Nijmegen University. After his studies he spent time working in Canada on public participation projects. For the past six years he has been involved in various environmental impact assessments, among others as a specialist in perception of wind energy and visualization techniques.
Pictures speak louder than words: Wind farm visualization challenges in the public consultation process.
The visualization of wind farm projects attracts a lot of debate, especially when it comes to near shore wind farm projects. Projects can face objections from entrepreneurs and beach guests, claiming their view will be negatively affected and guests will stop visiting their businesses. Often those claims are accompanied by exaggerated images of giant wind turbines, located right on the beach. On the other hand, comprehensive EIA reports are published by the wind farm developer, trying to proof academically that the impact on the seascape is relatively small.
This seems to miss the point however, as it fails to take away the exaggerated images many lay people hold for truth. In a time where planning officers and politicians tend to be led by images rather than reports, this becomes a problem. To have a proper discussion about the visual impact of offshore wind farms, photorealistic images and a proper presentation during the consultation phase are therefore essential , . How can it be done properly?
Main body of abstract
What you see is not what you get…
The main problem with many photo visualisations is that they fail to incorporate two important aspects of human (visual) experience of the outside world. Firstly, we relate what we see, to what we know from previous experience. In other words: objects we know to be large in the real world, should also be experienced as large in a photo. When this is not the case, we refuse to believe the picture is accurate. This is exactly what happens when using small photo prints or computer screens (without the proper software) for presentations.
Secondly, we tend to focus on the actual wind turbines location when preparing visualisations of the project. Although this sounds reasonable, this does not take the human eye , and the way we experience the outside world, into account. Our horizontal field of view (FOV) is around 180-200 degrees . When taking a photograph using an SLR camera and a standard 50mm lens, the FOV is only about 40 degrees. Although the wind farm might be clearly visible, such a photograph does not provide a proper image of the surroundings, nor does it correspond to the experience of the person standing on that specific location.
The solution to these problems is both simple and innovative: use a spherical panoramic image, presented on a large curved screen . A panoramic image can be up to 360 degrees, thereby providing a full experience of the surrounding scenery. By using a large (6x2,3 meters) curved screen, the panoramic images can be viewed in the correct perspective. The size of the screen also solves the ‘scale issue’: large objects appear large again, without the uncomfortable viewing distance necessary to achieve this on printed images.
Using this innovative technique has proven to be valuable in many different settings: from design sessions with planning officers and landscape professionals, to information exhibitions to the general public. Even opposition groups at a large wind farm project, located in the Dutch Lake IJsselmeer, stated that the tool was very helpful and, most important, believable. With the growing importance of stakeholder management, this tool can guide discussion about visual impact using facts, rather than fiction.