Virtual Reality Interactions

Using Immersive Virtual Reality to Understand the Impacts of Wind Energy Siting

Wind turbines in oceanMany sustainability solutions are designed or enhanced by developing and siting new technologies (e.g., reducing greenhouse gases by generating power using wind energy). Yet the impact of these newly sited technologies on the quality of life of local residents and on tourism can be incredibly difficult to envision. A tool that allows stakeholders to experience this impact could be vital to the long-term success of such projects; allowing proponents of these sites to address misconceptions and/or adjust siting to address stakeholder concerns. The wind farm proposed for Monhegan Island provides an ideal real world laboratory for evaluation of such a tool.

This project will develop, test, and use a virtual reality interaction (VRI) tool to communicate to tourists visiting Monhegan Island what an offshore wind farm would look like (e.g., blades spinning, presence of flicker), and sound like (e.g., simulating different wind speeds and ambient conditions). By combining the VRI tool with accepted survey approaches we will be better able to understand how tourists’ evaluate the wind farm, how the presence of the farm will impact their tourist experience, and how it will impact their intention to return. This should help policy makers, business owners and residents better evaluate the wind farm benefits (free electric power and internet service) and costs (disruptions to commercial fishing and potential tourism losses).

Team Members:
Nicholas Giudice, Computing & Information Science (team leader)
Mario Teisl, Economics
Shannon McCoy, Psychology
Caroline Noblet, Economics

Project Partners:
Monhegan Island Wind Working Group

Additional Resources: