Absolute Michigan's Michigan Blog
Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Wind Energy and Wildlife

There is an ongoing debate in this country (and in Michigan) about the benefits of wind turbines vs. their impact on wildlife. The GLRC Environment Report's Dustin Dwyer writes:
"Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of new electricity in the United States. For some environmentalists, that's good news. Wind turbines don't spew smoke into the air. There's no nuclear byproduct. But there is an environmental risk. To see it, you have to view the wind turbines through the eyes of a bird."

He continues:
"Chandler Robbins says better technology could also limit damage. He says turbine blades could be equipped with sensors:

"If a bird or a bat collided with that blade, it would set up enough vibration so that the blade could be feathered temporarily to avoid other birds striking until the immediate problem is over."

Feathering essentially means that you twist the angle of the blade so that wind passes over it, rather than pushing the blade into a spin. That way, birds aren't sucked into it. It's basically the turbine's braking system. Some say you don't even need a sensor on the turbine. They say engineers could monitor radar and thermal imaging. That would tell them if any migrating birds are in the area, and if they are, feather the blades."

Read or listen to WIND ENERGY SWEEPING AWAY WILDLIFE? (short version)

The US Fish & Wildlife Service - Migratory Bird Mortality report concludes:
"Cars may kill 60 million or more birds; private and commercial aircraft far fewer, while wind turbine rotors killed an estimated 33,000 birds annually."
Click here to view the document. (adobe pdf)

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) document entitled Wind Energy and Wildlife: Frequently Asked Questions,
"The wind energy industry has worked hard over the past decade to reduce the impact of wind turbines on birds. Those efforts have largely been very successful -- wind turbines and birds can and do coexist successfully. The wind industry is now beginning a similar effort to understand and reduce the regional impact of wind turbines on bats in Appalachia.
Click here to view the document. (adobe pdf)

Spin on over to Absolute Michigan keyword 'wind turbine' (type any word into that top right box: food, hiking, boat, etc.)

# posted by Tami @ 2:58 PM
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