Wind turbines on the Great Lakes? Not a great idea for the birds

Saw an interesting article today about how putting wind turbines on the Great Lakes could do serious harm to the birds around and migrating through the Great Lake region.

Traditional wind turbines create a horrendous level of bird kills. Endangered birds such as bald eagles, which are federally protected,  and bats – which are threatened by the white nose syndrome plague – are losing their lives in continually growing numbers due to strikes by wind turbines.

Statistics show that an estimated 368,000 birds were killed by wind farms in the U.S. This includes eagles and other protected birds such as hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows.

A dead bald eagle - one of hundreds of thousands of the annual sanctioned "take" on wind farms

One of hundreds of thousands of the annual sanctioned “take” on wind farms

Yet wind companies are greedily eager to see wind farms proliferate – and the idea of a cheaper, pollution-free source of energy is tempting to many. But the cost to wildlife must be addressed, rather than taken as part of “the cost of doing business”.

Some wind companies and utilities are working on decreasing the number of bird kills. They are studying bird migration and are beginning to turn the turbines off when migration occurs. A good start, but the bird and bat kills continue.

It’s important to recognize that innovation can help here. Of course wind companies and utilities are geared for high profits. BUT there must be a balance struck with Nature. And innovation has already created potential solutions.

Sheer Wind's innovative wind turbine would dramatically cut bird and bat kills from wind turbines

Sheer Wind’s innovative wind turbine would dramatically cut bird and bat kills from wind turbines

There are options that, if brought to scale to satisfy large wind farms, would bring the cost of these solutions to more reasonable rates. One good example we’ve written about here is the Michigan-based company Sheer Wind, whose unique INVELOX(™) funnel can produce 600 percent more power than conventional wind turbines, with lower installation and maintenance costs.

Another option would of course be to place slower-turning wind turbines well away from flight paths of migratory birds, while using newer, shorter and enclosed wind turbines. This would help mitigate and decrease the potential of bird and bat kills.

It’ time for corporations to take Nature into account when planning for expansion. We can no longer afford to tout the “latest and greatest” innovation or better / lower prices for energy without also allowing Nature to win.

 

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One Response

  1. Sadly, MICHIGAN and INDIANA-two large Great Lakes States–are noted “worst” governments for poorest public spaces cleanliness and citizen environmental protection conduct, in the American State Litter Scorecard (litterscorecard.com)

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