Wind energy is a growing industry, with wind turbines springing up across the country. As useful as wind energy is, it has a serious downside.
Bird mortality – the large number of birds killed by the slow spinning turbine blades – has been an underreported yet critical problem. Although the exact number of bird kills is difficult to pin down, the Smithsonian’s Smart News estimated that between 140,000 and 328,000 birds die each year from collisions with wind turbines. And, it reported, taller wind turbines, while more energy efficient, offer a greater risk of collisions and fatalities.
In 2014, you read here about an innovative wind turbine by the Michigan-based company Sheer Wind. Its unique INVELOX(™) funnel can produce 600 percent more power than conventional wind turbines, with lower installation and maintenance costs.
Since that post, the company has expanded its reach, with projects and installations around the world, These include installations in Florida, The Nature Conservancy’s bird sanctuary Palmyra Atoll and multiple installations for the U.S. Army. Last month, the company’s authorized distribution HUB SheerWindChina broke ground in China for the largest INVELOX system to date – a 2.2 megawatt funnel that will include 3 turbines that are expected to have an annual energy production of over 10 million KWH.
And the company has signed a licensing agreement with Reikon Beheer, an investment company that will allow SheerWind’s INVELOX(™) wind-power generating systems to be marketed and deployed in the Netherlands.
Sheer Wind appears to have solved a very real wildlife conservation and environmental problem with their innovative technology. As it’s gaining acceptance in various parts of the world and the U.S., perhaps it’s time that some of our older wind installations such as the San Francisco Bay area’s Altamont Pass and Central California’s Tehachapi installations were refitted with these. All these installations are known for their high numbers of bird kills. Might the permits be amended to allow for this? Could the funds be found for such a large project?
There are many questions to be answered. But the technology is there. So perhaps it’s time to find a way to put this real solution in place.