Germany’s renewable energy transition, the “Energiewende,” has long been a subject of scorn among conservatives, who have argued that it is a massive ratepayer-subsidized boondoggle that has harmed Germany’s economy and imposed significant regressive costs on poor and working class energy consumers. But the last several months have seen growing skepticism about the Energiewende from the center-left as well.
Both Der Spiegel and Slate have published lengthy investigative pieces raising troubling questions about the costs and the environmental benefits of Germany’s headlong pursuit of an all-renewable energy future. Even left-leaning Dissent Magazine recently published a long expose about the failure of the Energiewende to reduce carbon emissions, concluding that Germany’s enormous investments in renewables, together with plans to phase out its nuclear fleet, would cost the nation a generation in the fight against global warming.
Read more – original article
The Wolfe Island Studies
In early 2011, the company that owns and operates the 86 wind turbines on Wolfe Island released its first mortality study. After making “adjustments,” the study estimated that the turbines killed 602 birds and 1,270 bats between July 1 and December 31, 2009; an additional 549 birds and 450 bats were killed between January 1 and June 30, 2010. The total fatality toll for the twelve months was estimated to be 1,141 birds, 24 raptors, and 1,720 bats.
The huge number of fatalities generated extensive negative publicity around the world, and the Wolfe Island wind installation quickly became known as Canada’s deadliest energy facility. In response to this criticism’ and under the direction of the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources, new “management” procedures were adopted that would supposedly reduce these turbine impacts. Follow-up studies “indicated” that the new procedures for were having a positive impact and Wolfe Island wind turbine mortality was being reduced.
August 28, 2013
So the Blanding’s Turtle must once again prove that it is in sufficient danger to warrant protection against industrial wind turbines from bestriding and destroying its unique, fragile habitat at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County. Not only that, the proponents of the proposed wind factory, (Gilead Power) claim in their appeal of the recent decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) protecting the turtle, that the reptile’s advocates, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), must “prove that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to the turtle population province wide.” (Our emphasis.)
This is an interesting tack to take considering that the original decision of the ERT rejected such extrapolations, insisting on case-by-case assessment, when it came to previous Tribunal findings about the harmful effects of industrial wind turbine operations on human health!
August 27, 2013
by Jim Wiegand
The wind industry is hiding over 90% of the bird and bat mortality caused by their turbines. This statement is supported by the industry’s own data and reasonable adjustments for its manipulations.
The wind industry is … producing faulty, misleading and even fraudulent documents to hide the serious and growing mortality. This situation has continued for years but has been shielded by state and federal agencies and other supporters of wind power.
August 13, 2013
by Larry Bell
Germany, Denmark pay 3 times current U.S. rates for energy — and our leaders want us to pay that much as well.
Although blades on the 150-foot wind turbines at the new German offshore Riffgat power plant 9 miles off the North Sea island of Bokum are finally turning, there is one big problem. They are doing so only because they are being powered by onshore fossil-fueled generators to prevent the rotors from corroding in salty air. And why might that be? Well although they otherwise function perfectly, the underfinanced grid operator hasn’t yet connected a power line because of problems attracting investor financing. Prospective investors attribute their reluctance to a lack of market confidence.
Lying by omission
Wind farm stooges say: cars, cats, windows, etc. kill more birds than wind turbines.
Using the same logic, the asbestos industry could be reborn!
It would just have to say: my products kill fewer people than car accidents. Wouldn’t that be fun!
All they’d have to do is finance electoral campaigns left and right, and the corrupt system would do the rest.
It may be true, at this stage of the game, that wind turbines kill less birds than do cars and cats. But they kill rarer birds, and twice as many bats (which cars, cats, windows etc. don’t kill). In addition, they are on their way to killing 20 times more when the number of turbines is multiplied by 20, as are planning the wind industry and their gnomes.
July 1, 2013
A rare bird hit by wind turbine blades in the presence of birdwatchers leads conservationists to ask some disturbing questions.Photo: courtesy of the Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Does fatal attraction of hirundines to wind turbines threaten populations and species?
The fatal impact of a white-throated needletail with a wind turbine in Scotland (1) raises serious concerns, with ramifications far beyond the sad loss of a single, spectacular vagrant. As a rare visitor, this individual bird was being very carefully observed, and thus there was a far higher chance of a turbine impact being detected than is the case for most small birds. Only a minuscule fraction of birds are intensively monitored in this way, and if the movements and fates of many other individual birds were being monitored, then what appears to be a rare event might prove to be frequent – or indeed probable. The death of this needletail should remind us that numerous small birds are being hit by turbines without detection or raising alarm. However, other hirundine deaths have already been documented amongst Europe’s wind turbines (2).
The needletail encountered a small, lone turbine. On the face of it, this is highly unlikely – unless the bird was actively attracted to the vicinity of the turbine. Indeed, some insects are attracted to wind turbines, and some bats are attracted to their deaths by unknown features of the turbines – possibly the food concentration around them (3, 4, 5). Remarkably, there are reports of bats commuting to wind turbines up to 14 km offshore for such food resources, as well as others stopping, perching and feeding around them during migration (4). This attraction exerted by wind turbines extends their ecological footprint to new, unsuspected dimensions.
We hypothesise that hirundines (including swifts, swallows, martins, swiftlets and needletails) might also be attracted to insects flying around these machines – onshore and offshore. Indeed, awareness has already been raised about the potential attraction of insectivorous birds to wind turbines (5). Reports (5, 6) that hirundines can comprise a third of turbine victims in Sweden and are being killed by domestic micro-turbines in Britain merit further investigation. Another consideration is that certain landscape features and air flows might attract both wind farm developers and hirundines, putting them on a collision course as they do with raptors.
We propose that wind turbines, let alone wind farms, may create extensive population sinks which could deplete and exterminate populations of birds and bats. We doubt the woeful amount of independent monitoring of turbine impacts would be capable of detecting this threat in most regions or for most species.
In the circumstances, a precautionary approach would be particularly appropriate in areas with populations of already threatened endemic hirundines, bats and other species – as in Seychelles or the Mascarenes for instance. For such areas, irreversible global extinction might be caused by wind turbines, yet even the highest standards of monitoring (including videos and radio transmitters) might be insufficient to alert us in time. We predict the extinction legacy of wind turbines will become an increasing source of concern, as ecological traps are set in vast numbers across the planet.
Clive Hambler (Lecturer in Biological and Human Sciences, Hertford College, University of Oxford)
Mark Duchamp (President, Save the Eagles International; Chair, World Council for Nature)
(1) – http://blog.birdguides.com/2013/06/white-throated-needletail.html
(2) – Photos of a sample of bird fatalities due to wind farms, including hirundines, from the Save the Eagles International website: http://savetheeagles.wordpress.com/birdkill-pictures/
– More pictures of birds killed by wind turbines may be seen here: http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/multimedia/
and there are many more.
(3) – Video monitoring of bats flying between turbine blades, showing some getting struck: http://www.epaw.org/multimedia.php?lang=es&article=b6
(4) – “We recorded 11 species (of a community of 18 species) flying over the ocean up to 14 km from the shore.” Ahlén, I. et al. (2009). Behaviour of Scandinavian bats during migration and foraging at sea. Journal of Mammology, 90, 1318-1323
– “The bats did not avoid the turbines. On the contrary they stayed for shorter or longer periods hunting close to the windmills because of the accumulation of flying insects. Hunting close to the blades was observed, why the risk of colliding might be comparable to land-based turbines. Bats also used wind turbines for resting. Insects were collected at places and times when bats were observed feeding.” Ahlén, I. et al. (2007). Bats and offshore wind turbines studied in southern Scandinavia. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Report 5571. http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Documents/publikationer/620-5571-2.pdf
(5) – “Increased risks depend on insect hunting (swifts, swallows), carrion search (crows, ravens, some raptors), and hangwind gliding (red kites, eagles, and buzzards).” – Ahlén, I. (2010). Fågelarter funna under vindkraftverk i Sverige. Var Fågelvärld, 4/2010, 8-12 http://www.slu.se/PageFiles/8390/artiklar/BirdsWindPowerVF2010.pdf
The Ungreening of Windpower: Dina Cappiello (AP) Blows the Whistle on Big Wind (and others are following)
“[The Obama] administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the [bird] deaths secret.”
– Dina Cappiello, “Obama Administration Allows Wind Farms to Kill Eagles, Birds Despite Federal Laws, Washington Post, May 14, 2013. [Note: WaPo scrubbed the article where the link does not work.]
“By accepting the compromises of the real world and enthusiastically supporting the establishment of the wind industry, [environmentalists] entered the devil’s bargain that now prevents them from fighting the power companies. . . . Here in the almost wilds of Altamont Pass, the environmentalists and Kenetech have reached the point where solutions become problems–the point at which there is blood on the answer.”
– Amy Linn, “Whirly Birds,” SF Weekly, March 29-April 4, 1995.
The Shared Narrative of windpower as ”green” is under assault. What was relegated to the shadows in years and decades past is coming out as never before.
Earlier this month, AP environmental writer Dina Cappiello’s exposed the federal government’s double-environmental standard towards windpower. As such, she ’mainstreamed’ the work of wind critics Robert Bryce, Paul Driessen, Sherri Lange, James Rust, Tom Tanton, Jim Wiegand, among others.
Is it open season and catch-up time regarding what is politely called windpower’s “avian mortality” problem? In Sunday’s New York Times, Felicity Barringer’s Turbine Plans Unnerve Fans of Condors in California quoted Kelly Fuller of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) about how the U.S. Department of Interior’s new wind-turbine/bird policy ”blindsided folks.”
Fuller explained in a press release:
December 5, 2012
1) Wind Turbines can measure more than 150 metres (487 feet or 48 stories) tall and weigh in at 600 tons.
2) The extremely low air pressure surrounding a wind turbine has been discovered to be the cause of the high numbers of bat deaths. A bat’s lungs are very delicate, and it seems the low pressure might cause them to expand to the point of bursting blood vessels.
3) Wind turbines emit an infrasound (below 20hz) and the corporeal effects of this sound vibrate the eardrum. Infrasound cannot be heard but can be carried through the atmosphere for thousands of kilometers and is believed to cause certain breathing and digestive problems in humans and animals.
4) Wind turbine blades can rotate at up to 80 meters per second, or about 180 miles per hour.
5) The largest wind farm in the world, as of 2012, is the Alta Wind Farm in California, with 390 wind turbines and a projected capacity of 1550 MW by 2013.
6) The base of a typical steel tower is anchored in a platform of more than a thousand tons of concrete and steel rebar, 30 to 50 feet across and anywhere from 6 to 30 feet deep
7) The largest offshore wind turbine ground-to-tip height is 197 metres, more than twice that of the Big Ben clock tower in London.
Photo: Weston Turbines
8) Commercially sized turbines have a capacity of up to 5 million watts. In order to convert wind energy into electricity an average wind speed of 14 mph is required.
9) Hawaii houses the largest wind onshore turbine in the world. It has rotors that are the entire length of a football field. The turbine stands at 20 storeys high.
10) The Siemens SWT-6.0-154 is the largest offshore wind turbine, that is being tested wind turbine testing facility in Østerild, Denmark. The turbine boasts the world’s largest rotor with blades 75 metres long, larger than the wings of the world’s largest aircraft, the Airbus 380. They are the world’s largest fiberglass component, that is all one piece.
Courtesy of Nance Ackerman of Kings Journalism.com
April 16, 2012
Save the Eagles International
The British public is being misinformed regarding bird mortality at wind farms, denounce Save the Eagles International (STEI) and the World Council for Nature (WCFN). It is contrary to fact to pretend that these industrial structures are “carefully sited” so as to avoid risks to birds and bats. It is equally false to allege that grouse and other ground-nesting birds don’t mind laying their eggs under wind turbines, or that raptors avoid these dangerous areas.
In a recent article, The Guardian states: “Studies in the UK had found evidence that birds of prey in particular avoided wind farms” (1). But if you look closely at the picture shown in the article, you’ll notice that the two birds flying between the turbines are raptors, red kites in fact, which were reintroduced in the UK at great cost. “So! – they avoid wind farms, eh?” – quips STEI’s President Mark Duchamp.
In Germany, where a few wind farms have been loosely monitored for bird and bat mortality, the government has disclosed the number of carcasses reported so far: 69 eagles, 186 kites, 192 buzzards, 13 harriers, 59 falcons, 12 hawks, 7 ospreys, plus hundreds more birds of all sizes and even more bats (2). “These figures are just a small sample of the ongoing massacre”, comments Duchamp, who cites this example: “Ubbo Mammen, an ornithologist commissioned by the German government, estimates that 200-300 Red Kites are being killed yearly by wind turbines in Germany” (3). These machines are driving many rare species into extinction, warns Mark.
In the UK, few raptor deaths leaked through what STEI calls “the windfarm cover-up”: three red kites, one osprey, and one sea eagle. “Officially, the eagle died of a heart attack”, mocks Duchamp. “In the UK, wind farms are not being monitored for bird mortality: this is how the issue is being kept from the public’s eye. Scavengers and wind farm employees dispose of the dead bodies, so it is extremely rare for a dead eagle or osprey to be found by some nosy trespasser.”
Birds and bats are being slaughtered by the million in other countries. In Spain, the ornithological society SEO/Birdlife recently estimated that the 800 Spanish wind farms were killing between 6 and 18 million birds and bats a year (4). Unlike birds killed by cars and cats, these include eagles and many other rare species.
But in the UK, bird charities hold the wind industry in great esteem, on account of global warming but also for their financial contributions to bird research, notes STEI. Hence the new study by researchers from the RSPB and BTO, which was just hailed by The Guardian in these terms: “Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds” (1). But raptors have been excluded from the study, remarks Duchamp. “As for the few bird species that were considered, the research is anything but convincing; besides, other studies have shown opposite results”. Mark remembers that, years ago, an RSPB officer wrote the following about the Edinbane project: “they (red grouse) have been known to collide with turbine structures and have shown population declines associated with windfarm developments elsewhere” (5).
The BBC, referring to the same study, recently proclaimed: “Wind farms ‘not major bird mincers’ ” (6). STEI wonders how this conclusion may be drawn from such an inconclusive and suspicious study, whose scope is not mortality, and only targets the “density” of selected non-raptor species. As for earlier claims that wind farms in the UK are “carefully sited”, Mark notes that many have been placed in the worst possible locations, where they will mince Scottish eagles into extinction: Eishken (aka Eisgein or Eisgen), Pairc, Pentland Road, Edinbane, Ben Aketil, various eagle ranges in Argyll, etc. “Hypocrisy and deceit are rampant,” laments Duchamp.