Wildlife

RSPB makes a killing… from windfarm giants behind turbines accused of destroying rare birds

birds      JAMES DELLINGPOLE

      PUBLISHED: 01:20, 7 April 2013 | UPDATED:
01:20, 20 April 2013

 

The RSPB is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wind power industry despite the turbines killing millions of birds each year

In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), which invests in wind and other renewable energy, the RSPB admits to having made £1 million over ten years.

The charity claims that windfarms play an important role in the battle against climate change, which ‘poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife’, and that wind turbines caused only ‘significant detrimental effects’ when poorly sited.

But critics argue there is no such thing as a well-sited windfarm and that the charity has been taken over by green zealots.

Conservationist Mark Duchamp, whose international charity Save The Eagles monitors bird deaths caused by wind farms, said: ‘The fact that such an organisation [the RSPB] is not taking this problem seriously is scandalous.
‘They are supposed to protect birds. Instead they are advocating on behalf of an industry which kills birds. What could be more wrong and absurd than that?’

Dr John Etherington, former reader in ecology at the University of Wales and author of The Wind Farm Scam, said: ‘It seems to me that for some time now a green faction has penetrated a whole range of bodies and that the RSPB is one of them.  ‘For an organisation that supposedly protects birds to team up with an industry that kills birds on the basis of unverifiable predictive models about climate change is just bizarre.

Read more….

UK’s Guardian Lies About Bird Deaths & Wind Turbines

Raptors DO NOT fly around turbines!

Raptors DO NOT fly around turbines

April 17, 2013 – The hypocrisy of the Green movement is legend, the turning of a blind eye to an inconvenient truth, a way of life for the eco-enviromentalist who will stop at nothing, and sacrifice anybody, or animal to achieve the Green dream.

One of their most loathsome forms of hypocrisy is the death of protected bird species, which they are supposed to care for, by wind turbines which is what they really care about.

The US government is issuing licenses to kill for Green energy companies, while prosecuting anyone else that kills a protected bird.

The California Condor is under serious threat from wind farms, the Golden Eagle is being decimated and could well be extinct very soon, and in Spain bird choppers kill between 6 – 18 million birds and bats every year.

Wind Farms are piting Green activist against Green activist in the US where one bunch of Greens are using the legal system to shutdown the other Greens, Green energy wet dream to stop the bird chopppers, chopping birds.

Anyway there is nothing to worry about, because according to Leo Hickman in a post entitled Wind myths: Turbines kill birds and bats none of this happening:

Bats, despite their ability to use sonar to avoid moving objects, are susceptible to “‘barotrauma”, a sense of disorientation caused by the rapid change of air pressure created by a turbines rotating blade. An unexpectedly high number of bat fatalities have been recorded across the US and Europe over the past decade.

“A recent review of the problem put forward no less than 11 hypotheses as to what might be contributing to these [bat] fatalities,” says the Centre of Sustainable Energy in Bristol in its publication Common Concerns About Wind Power. “Clearly, a great deal of research is still needed.”

With regard to bird fatalities, it says: “Wind turbines represent an insignificant fraction of the total number of bird deaths caused by man-made objects or activities (eg building structures, transmission lines, and keeping domestic cats).” According to the CSE, for every bird killed by a turbine, 5,820, on average, are killed striking buildings, typically glass windows.

That is the way that a Green ecomentalist in love with the Green renewable energy dream sees it, obfuscate the numbers of birds killed by introducing irrelevancies like bird deaths by cats, when was the last time a cat caught and killed a Golden Eagle?

On the other side of the argument this is how Green activists that actually care about raptors and other protected bird species see it:

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.”

If you visit the Save The Eagles International web site there is not one reference to Anthropogenic Global Warming religion, just people who care about raptors and are not involved in the political agenda of man made climate change, unlike Big Green fronted by Greenpeace, WWF & FoE who ceased to be environmental organisations 20 years ago.

Tony Aardwark
Read more about Tony at his website: TonyAardvark.com

Removal of eagles nest smacks of big money corruption: MPP Barrett

bald eagle turbinesRemoval of eagles nest smacks of big money corruption: MPP Barrett

 

RSPB makes a killing… from windfarm giants behind turbines accused of destroying rare birds

7 April 2013

By JAMES DELLINGPOLE

 

  • The charity is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from wind power
  • But millions of birds, including at risk species, are killed by turbines each year

 

The RSPB is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wind power industry – despite the turbines killing millions of birds every year.

Golden eagles, hen harriers, Corn Buntings and other rare and threatened species are especially at risk, conservationists say.

Yet in its latest ‘partnership deal’, the bird charity receives £60 for every member who signs up to a dual-fuel account with windfarm developer Ecotricity.

It also receives £40 each time  a customer opens an account  with Triodos Bank, which finances renewable industry projects including wind turbines.

In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), which invests in wind and other renewable energy, the RSPB admits to having made £1?million over ten years.

The charity claims that windfarms play an important role in the battle against climate change, which ‘poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife’, and that wind turbines caused only ‘significant detrimental effects’ when poorly sited.

But critics argue there is no such thing as a well-sited windfarm and that the charity has been taken over by green zealots.

Read more

Big Wind & Avian Mortality (Part II: Hiding the Problem)

MasterResource.org

March 15,2013

Author Jim Wiegand is an independent wildlife expert with decades of field observations and analytical work. He is vice president of the US region of Save the Eagles International, an organization devoted to researching, protecting and preserving avian species threatened by human encroachment and development.

“The cold reality is that honest, scientific, accurate mortality studies in the Altamont Pass area would result in death tolls that would shock Americans. They would also raise serious questions about wind turbines throughout the United States, especially in major bird habitats like Oregon’s Shepherds Flat wind facility and the whooping cranes’ migratory corridor from Alberta, Canada, to Texas.”

Part I yesterday examined the sober findings and admissions of a 2004 study by the California Energy Commission (CEC) on bird carnage at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA).

Developing Methods to Reduce Bird Mortality in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area also looked at the placement of carcasses in relation to turbine types. It documented that the distances carcasses were found from turbine towers increased significantly as turbine megawatt ratings and blade lengths increased. Based on a sample of about 800 carcasses, the report revealed that birds were found an average of 94 feet (28.5 meters) from 100Kw turbines on towers 81 feet (24.6 meters) high.

Obviously, taller turbines with longer blades and faster blade-tip speeds will catapult stricken birds much further. Figure 1 below shows how a turbine 2.5 times larger will result in an average carcass distance of 372 feet (113.5 meters) from the tower. The wind industry is acutely aware of this.

That is why it has restricted search areas to 165 feet (50 meters) around its bigger turbines. This ensures that far fewer bodies will be found – and turbine operators will not need to explain away as many carcasses.

Recent mortality studies like those conducted at the Wolfe Island wind project (2.3 MW turbines) and Criterion project in Maryland (2.5 MW turbines) should have used searches 655 feet (200 meters) from turbines, just to find the bulk (75-85%) of the fatalities. Of course, they did not do so. Instead, they restricted their searches to 165 feet – ensuring that they missed most raptor carcasses, and could issue statements claiming that their turbines were having minimal or “acceptable” effects on bird populations.

Later Altamont Pass Study: More Hiding
Other methods and biased formulas allow the industry to exclude or explain away carcasses.

ALTAMONT PASS WIND RESOURCE AREA BIRD
FATALITY STUDY, BIRD YEARS
2005–2010

The latest Altamont Pass studies found far more bird carcasses, but Altamont operators still claim mortality declines by using new adjustment formulas and other exclusionary factors as shown in Figure 2.

APWRA mortality numbers

For example, industry analysts:
· Exclude certain carcasses. The 2005–2010 WRRS data show that 347 carcasses (primarily raptors) – plus 21 golden eagle carcasses – were excluded from mortality estimates, because industry personnel claimed they were found outside standard search procedures, said the “cause of death was unknown” (even when the birds’ heads had been sliced off), or removed carcasses ahead of a scheduled search.

· Exclude mortally wounded or crippled birds found during searches, even if they display turbine-related injuries. Even though many birds hit by turbine blades die within days, if they are still breathing when found, they are considered mobile – and thus not fatalities.

· Avoid searching near some of the most dangerous and lethal turbines. The industry justifies this exclusion by claiming that “the number of turbines monitored was reduced and spatially balanced for a randomized rolling panel design.” That this “reduction and balancing” excluded the most deadly portion of the Altamont facility was presented as coincidental or part of a proper scientific methodology.

The cold reality is that honest, scientific, accurate mortality studies in the Altamont Pass area would result in death tolls that would shock Americans. They would also raise serious questions about wind turbines throughout the United States, especially in major bird habitats like Oregon’s Shepherds Flat wind facility and the whooping cranes’ migratory corridor from Alberta, Canada, to Texas.

The techniques discussed here help ensure that “monitoring” studies match the facility operators’ desired conclusions, and mortality figures are kept at “acceptable” levels.

Time for Truth

Not only has the wind industry never solved its environmental problem. It has been hiding at least 90% of this slaughter for decades. In fact, the universal problem of hiding bird (and bat) mortality goes from bad to intolerable beyond the Altamont Pass boundaries, because studies in other areas across North America are far less rigorous, or even nonexistent, and many new turbines are sited in prime bird and bat habitats.

The real death toll, as reported by Paul Driessen and others, is thousands of raptors a year – and up to 39 million birds and bats of all species annually in the United States alone, year after year! This is intolerable, and unsustainable. It is leading to the inevitable extinction of many species, at least in many habitats, and perhaps in the entire Lower 48 States.

Meanwhile, assorted “experts” continue to insist that the greatest threats to golden eagles are other factors like hikers getting too close to their nests, even when most abandoned nests in Southern California are nowhere near any hiking trails and wind turbines continue to slaughter eagles.

It is essential that people realize that no energy source comes anywhere close to killing as many raptors as wind energy does. No other energy companies are allowed to pick up bodies of rare and protected species from around their production sites on a day-to-day basis, year-in and year-out. No other energy producer has a several thousand mile mortality foot print (the highly endangered whooping cranes’ migratory corridor) similar to what wind nergy has.

Once people understand all of this, they will rightfully demand that the wind industry obey the same environmental rules that all other industries must follow. This will require that wind turbines be sited only where the risk of bird deaths is minimal to zero; that turbines be replaced with new designs that birds recognize as obstacles and thus avoid; that fines be levied for every bird death, as is done with other industries; and that industrial wind facilities not be permitted where these requirements cannot be met.

America’s wildlife, and proper application of our environmental laws, require nothing less.

___________

30 comments

1 ttanton { 03.15.13 at 8:51 am }

Excellent post, Mr. Weigand. This PBS video re avian mortality runs through a brief history of CEC actions (and others) on the subject subject, and it pretty damning for a PBS story. It features Jim Walker, at one time Exec. Director and then later Commissioner at CEC. I was there at the time.
http://science.kqed.org/quest/2007/06/26/fatal-attraction-birds-and-wind-turbines/
2 Ray { 03.15.13 at 9:29 am }

Currently all wind capturing techniques are turbine to wind. My concept is wind to turbine via the use of ripstop nylon
windsocks, with a flat ripstop nylon hose attached to the tails.

Route the wind to turbines, mounted on the ground. The windsocks could also be mounted under an airfoil, lifted in place by helium balloons, for high altitude wind capture.

This will prevent bird deaths!

This technique is much faster, cheaper, and safer than anything currently used or proposed.
3 Drewski { 03.15.13 at 10:06 am }

Unfortunately, wind channels such as Altamont are flight paths for some species of birds. But, to put it in perspective, the mortality of all birds from wind turbines is tens of thousands of times less than by ordinary house windows or power lines. And that is still a magnitude lower than by death from feral cats.

Perhaps we should look at repositioning turbines that threaten endangered species but, if it is simply bird deaths in general that concerns you, then we should stop putting windows in houses.
4 rbradley { 03.15.13 at 10:21 am }

What if we simply substituted windpower for ANWR in this quotation:

“The simple fact is, drilling is inherently incompatible with wilderness. The roar alone—of road-building, trucks, drilling and generators—would pollute the wild music of the Arctic [National Wildlife Refuge] and be as out of place there as it would be in the heart of Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.”

– Jimmy Carter, “Make This Natural Treasure a National Monument,” New York Times (December 29, 2000, p. A23.
5 Jon Boone { 03.15.13 at 10:43 am }

Several comments about this post should be cause for despair about our common intellectual integrity. Repositioning wind turbines to mitigate the threat to endangered birds is akin to building larger closets for the emperor with no clothes. And the Rube Goldberg idea of high altitude wind capture seems an engineer’s grotesque idea for make work; fact is that the energy (fuel) density of the wind can never be converted to modern power. Belief that it can do so has no basis in reality. And the reality is:

All the incivility and environmental treachery (only some of which has been described here) is done in the name of energy delusion. What is really horrible is that all this “sacrifice” is done to promote tax shelters (which is the only functional thing wind generates) so the rich can get richer and Big Energy, including fossil fuels, can grow fatter.
6 Drewski { 03.15.13 at 11:12 am }

rbradley,
What is your point?
7 rbradley { 03.15.13 at 11:41 am }

DC environmental groups (versus the grassroots) don’t seem to care about massive wind turbines despoiling the wilds. ‘A machine in every pristine’ is quite a price to pay for being anti-fossil fuels.
8 Jim Wiegand { 03.15.13 at 11:51 am }

All the arguments comparing buildings, power lines, cats, buildings windows etc to wind turbine mortality is nothing but shameless finger pointing. It is like comparing the somewhat random mortality caused by of cancer to the very deliberate deaths of high ranking individuals caused by a terrorist act. Since cancer takes so many more lives, should we dismiss the terrorist? Never, and we should also never dismiss the wind industry for their deliberate underhanded avian slaughter to rare species.

Deflective comments are completely meaningless diversion from the reality of the ongoing wind turbine genocide. Not one of these deflective factors or all of them together will cause the extinction of species and decimate bird and bat populations across the world. The propeller style wind turbine is doing all of this.

But proponents consider climate change to be their ultimate trump card in the argument for these turbines. I hear fools from the Sierra Club and other organizations claim that looming climate change will be killing far more than turbines. I do not care who is selling it, it is still a sick diversion from the turbine slaughter.

The reality is that a billion turbines can never alter a climate that has been altered by deforestation and soil erosion. Europe is already choked with turbines. How has that helped climate? It will be still no different if North America is saturated with turbines. The forests and soil will still have to be regenerated and these disgusting turbines will still never be able to power society.
9 Peter Moliterno { 03.15.13 at 12:14 pm }

Drewski:

My housecat was a great hunter and brought much live prey into our house through his Door. Once he even brought a live woodcock through the door and up the basement stairs and presented it to me. I do not believe that any feral cat has ever killed a raptor. And I don’t believe any studies that claim that fixed power lines are a significant source of avian mortality. Birds do just fine not flying into trees and other towers
10 JohnInMA { 03.15.13 at 12:17 pm }

As poster Ray indicates and as the article’s link to a website highlighting FloDesign’s technology shows, there are an increasing number of flow-enhanced approaches to wind turbine construction that have secondary benefits in protecting birds. I’m not sure if Ray’s windsock idea has been tested, but I recall reading in the past with some other ‘vortex’ based derivatives – funneling wind energy towards a turbine if you will – were thought to increase risks of fatalities. However, it seems easy to test and it also shouldn’t dissuade designers from continuing the focus.

And it seems to me as someone who isn’t as directly engaged as Mr. Wiegand in the study of protecting birds across the spectrum, that there have been concerted efforts by a number of organizations to cooperate with the wind industry and facilitate the selection of sites least damaging to bird populations. In a quick Bing search, this came up in the top three, so surely it is easy for wind project leaders to find partners.
http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/120503.html

But if the manipulative and deceitful efforts continue to prevent authentic fact finding and worse to hide the true facts, while NOT cooperating at least in design and siting considerations, I don’t see how this cannot possible catch up with the industry as a whole and eventually damage its reputation significantly.

I live in a part of the country where reason and truth finally overcame the near-religious zealotry of green energy, and a turbine in Falmouth, MA, is likely going to be decommissioned. That the town is even investigating its path to minimize the financial damage from the ‘investment’ is a big deal, even if a final decision is pending.
http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130202/NEWS/302020332&cid=sitesearch

Yes, the resistance is based on noise and not endangering birds. But, it is still a watershed event that any environmental concern overpowers the other ‘green’ motivators in a state like MA.
11 Ray { 03.15.13 at 3:50 pm }

JohnInMA:

Put bird netting over the windsock’s aperture to prevent birds from entering the windsock’s funnel.
12 Kenneth Haapala { 03.16.13 at 12:24 pm }

During the year immediately following the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Fish & Wildlife collections produced 2303 dead birds, with visible oil. It is becoming clear that for birds, wind power is a far greater disaster.]
13 JohnInMA { 03.16.13 at 12:28 pm }

ttanton: I finally took some time to view the KQED piece you linked. Just a comment (not intended to start a debate): I was surprised to find it is a 2007 era effort, but not surprised that it impressed me as being favorable for the most part in its tone. Even though it allows the statement from the ecologist that the current theoretical target reductions is still short, you are left thinking the developers and the state commission are doing everything possible to ameliorate the problem they essentially had no understanding of in the earliest days. How innocent……

But more important – do you know if KQED ever followed up or if other organizations have been tracking the progress and producing pieces for the public? I searched the station’s site and found more modern articles, including a reference to Todd Woody (Forbes) who has been pretty honest in his reporting of avian issues and wind turbines over time. At least in my opinion. And they made brief reference to Atlamont in a very short mention of plans for Tehachapi. But I didn’t find any further in depth look at Altamont. Given what we know and the points made by Mr. Wiegand, I get very curious how those who I expect to be hyper-tolerant of the wind farm owners are really handling the situation. For example, my suspicions are confirmed when I find in one brief 2011 article in KQED’s climate watch blog, this statement is allowed and essentially unchallenged: “The Audubon statement concedes that newer turbine designs are becoming more bird-friendly, and finds climate change a bigger threat to avian critters in the long run…”. Back to my ‘greater good’ supposition.
14 Jon Boone { 03.16.13 at 7:20 pm }

Or, JohnNMA, Audubon is cynically using the wind mess as an avatar for ameliorating the greater good of arresting climate change (read: human induced catastrophic worldwide warming because of our evil-doing modernist ways) in order to bring in more funding and increase its membership of well meaning but scientifically illiterate people. Note how its membership campaigns target affluent suburbia and cities; it’s not the first time that the majority has exploited the minority (in this case, rural America) to make a buck. Few marks are as receptive to self flagellating energy policy as those residing in suburbia, particularly if it is someone else getting flagellated.

That Audubon sanctifies wind-induced bird mortality on the basis of a belief that wind technology can mitigate climate is a horse of one color, the reality that the organization is literally selling out its founding principles notwithstanding. That intelligent people, with even a glimmer of exposure to basic history, science, and the history of technology, could defer to such an “authority” is a horse of quite another color. Even a little thought should reveal that millions of wind machines not only couldn’t dent a climate grape but they would also cripple any system of delivering secure, reliable, affordably abundant electricity. Perhaps you’d find my paper on wind and The Sierra club instructive: http://www.stopillwind.org/lowerlevel.php?content=SierraClubWindSupport.

Reasonable–reasoning–people, those who value critical thinking, should target Audubon and its ilk by chanting, with Chubby Checker: “How low can you go….”
15 JohnInMA { 03.17.13 at 1:37 pm }

Jon Boone: We probably agree that Audubon and some sister organizations’ hypocrisy seems rooted in something less altruistic than their original mission. While it might not be the purest form of greed, it would be hard for them to deny it is a financial choice like you describe versus a pure ‘belief’ choice driven by their protection goals. An infinitely more credible position would be to follow up the decision (statement I copied) with an equally strong push on the wind industry to do everything possible to address avian mortality. If they do, it’s not very obvious to me. Rather, it seems they find it acceptable.

But I would take exception to your other post in this thread. I find most of the ‘renewable’ energy technologies to have varying degrees of merit even considering the non-optimum aspects of energy density, firm capacity, true costs, etc. It’s the faux-urgency and the political machinations to place the technologies in situations where they don’t fit that is the basic problem. Rather than pressure for appropriate development to ameliorate the problems, the ‘green’, ‘clean’, and ‘sustainable’ advocates lobby to simply subsidize current art and therefore essentially lock progress, or significantly slow it down. Subsidizing PV in NJ, e.g.??? But without going into too much detail in this post, my basic position is there is a fit for deriving energy from what is essentially ‘eternally available’ fuel sources. A few examples: Caribbean islands and Hawaii may be better candidates for wind energy systems to alleviate some – not all – dependency on fuel transportation (since the sources are exclusively offshore). Integrating PV generation capability into building materials, especially if such applications add other benefits or features that are purchased anyway (appearance, insulating, etc.), may be well suited for certain regions. Even adding PV generating capability to cover existing structures (e.g. parking decks) may eventually make more economic sense. But the dependencies to force more rapid development are ignored (by offsetting real costs, excusing avian mortality, etc.) while Trojan horses of various catastrophic climate projections are used as to obscure and force something unnatural. The natural course could be that the Southeast can only support, say, 5% penetration of various sources, while the desert Southwest might support 10%, all at current cost and performance capabilities (numbers are hypothetical). Instead, wrong-headed groups and ‘scientists’ are pushing the unnatural course and essentially creating a polar world – either you are for a “clean/sustainable/liveable/etc.” planet or you are against it. Foolish.

Already we have an energy mix across a spectrum of costs (real), risks (assumed costs – e.g. radiation exposure), energy density, and performance (fit into the grid – e.g. ramping, response, reserves, etc.). So, for me, there is no reason to think energy from another abundant fuel source like wind or solar, or perhaps geothermal, doesn’t have a natural fit that evolves with technology (capability). I’m not some idealist. I realize that there will always be some twiddling by well-meaning individuals and groups, especially politicians. So the energy mix may never be truly natural from an economic and performance sense. But when people become irrational and religious about it, all the while profiting (Gore anyone?), the challenges are greater than usual/normal to resist and expect the technologies to find a more innate course.
16 MarkB { 03.17.13 at 5:34 pm }

Please note that off-shore wind farms like Cape Wind – sitting right in a major migratory pathway – will kill birds out of site, out of mind. Those birds will never be counted.
17 Jon Boone { 03.17.13 at 8:07 pm }

JohnInMA:
I couldn’t disagree with you more. The people who run Audubon and The Sierra Club these days really don’t know a bat from a bowtie–and they know even less about energy production. It is the height of environmental cognitive dissonance to support wind technology in the way they do. Defend these jackals as you will. But I know them up close and personal–and find their behaviors appalling. All of us suffer from confirmation bias to some extent, but the best try to reduce it to the minimum. These guys attempt to get their way by bullying and threatening their membership. Again, do read the paper I suggested.

As to your other point: nonsense. In a world that demands precision meshing of highly interconnected machinery–in time and space, fuel density is an absolute must for producing modern power. Entangling machines hitched up to wind and solar energies, which are so diffuse that they couldn’t really serve the needs of society in 1820, let alone today, with high precision machines producing modern power is, if not a craven exercise, surely one engaged by the foolish. Again, why not, under your big energy tent, try to convince others that gliders are a great idea to complement commercial aviation? And sailing craft could be a profitable commercial venture on the high seas, no? (No!) Because so few people understand the nature of electricity production at scale, any huckster can seek rent with a crackpot idea.

Peddle your musings elsewhere.
Yes, there’s lots of wind and solar energy, to be sure, just as there are a trillion dollars worth of small diamonds embedded near the earth’s surface. Problem is that it would take trillions of dollars to extract them. But even this is too generous concept for the likes of wind and solar technology (which I’ll concede one day may have better local applications–but never anything at scale). Because of the nature of their fuel, tail-wagging-the-dog wind and solar machines cannot convert that fuel to modern power.

As you consider this, string together how energy relates to power, and how power relates to productivity. And how productivity relates to modernity. And how modernity relates to–is dependent upon–incredibly blended machines that are instantly controllable. Any pairing of controllable, dispatchable machines with those that can only produce, unpredictably, highly variable energy in the hopes of generating modern power will result in higher cost and much greater inefficiency, even though the former machines will do all the important work.
18 DDB { 03.17.13 at 9:55 pm }

I recently read that cats, especially feral carts, kill over one BILLION birds annually in the US. Do you trust this value, and if so, should cats also be restricted?
19 JohnInMA { 03.17.13 at 10:54 pm }

MarkB: Birds killed by offshore systems are much more difficult to discover, unless there is some real time sampling or observations. Already some environmental groups are searching for ways to rationalize a position to ‘like’ offshore wind. The most recent example I’ve found is from Friends of the Earth in the UK. Here is a link to the report (just an FYI – it links directly to the PDF):
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/marine_renewable_energy.pdf

Best summary (my words): They are an organization who in their priorities, lists first “Waking the world up to climate change.” The incomplete nature of data collection is repeated often. Some rationalizing and theorizing suggests a number of species may divert their flight path (as has been witnessed – at best an anecdote) while others may skim the water. They are at least frank that there is a potential for harm, and “caution” in siting and design (e.g. turbine count) must be used. But they are clearly setting the foundation for excusing bird deaths for the ‘greater good’ should they eventually find a way to live with it.
20 Mary Kay Barton { 03.18.13 at 10:18 am }

Cats, houses and cars do NOT kill eagles – industrial wind turbines do!

I live in Western New York State – the site of several Industrial Wind Factories, totaling 250 industrial turbines. We have a VERY healthy coyote population – not to mention turkey vultures, wild cats & dogs, hawks, crows, bears etc. MOST of the turbine blade-slaughtered birds & bats are NEVER found.

When it comes to the needless bird slaughter caused by these giant “Bird Cuisinarts,” the double-standard of penalties NOT imposed on the wind industry is clear. Likewise, the hypocrisy on display by organizations like Audubon (who I used to be a member of) and the Sierra Club is clear – It’s now “all about the money.”

While I find the free pass that the wind industry has been given to slaughter birds and bats infuriating and inexplicable, I find it even more infuriating that the rural residents and towns being negatively affected — whose quality of life and property values are being trashed in the name of going “green’ — continue to be totally ignored by all the stuffed shirts pushing this “green” garbage on rural America.

When the Leaders of Audubon (http://www.audubon.org/audubon-leaders), Sierra Club Officials (http://www.sierraclub.org/bod/meet-the-board/), and Wind Industry political cronies like – Chuck Grassley, John McCain, and all their cohorts – give up their mansions to move into a home within the massive sprawling footprint of an industrial wind factory (with dozens of towering, infrasound-emitting machines surrounding them only hundreds of feet from the foundations of their homes) then perhaps their blustering support of the wind industry would be credible. Until then, it’s obvious they are all just Big Blowhards on the Big Money Trail.
21 Mary Kay Barton { 03.18.13 at 10:25 am }

As I cited in a previous article here on Master Resource – “NYS Money Road to Nowhere” (http://www.masterresource.org/2012/08/local-wind-subsidies-more-waste-new-york-states-money-road-to-nowhere/):

“Special political favor at the local, state, and federal levels have created an artificial industry: industrial windpower. Massive turbines have resulted in negative ecological and economic effects. Rural towns and countryside across the USA have become the dumping grounds for massive infrastructure producing a paltry amount of remote, unreliable energy.

For many enjoying rural life, in particular, an invasion by industrial wind installations has turned environmentalism on its head.

“On a per kWh basis, wind receives 80 times the public subsidies received by fossil fuels, but produces no reliable electricity capacity and very few American jobs. In fact, for every green job that wind supposedly creates, it destroys two to four regular jobs – in large part due to “skyrocketing” electricity rates.”

Beyond all the “green” energy pie-in-the-sky promises that morally-bankrupt wind salesmen or Crony-Corruptocrats may offer in the name of The Wind Farm Scam, the incivility of throwing up scores of useless machines (they would be considered lemons if they were any other sort of modern machine or appliance) is a sad testimony about how cheaply people’s values can be bought, and how little many care for the welfare of their neighbors.”
22 Jim Wiegand { 03.18.13 at 10:41 am }

The Lies About Cats
There is really no sensible comparison between the birds eaten by cats and the slaughter caused by wind turbines. The cat vs. turbine debate was created by wind industry shills for the purpose of hiding a terrible mortality problem associated with wind turbines.

I have decades of wildlife observations in the field and this is the way it is; cats in remote locations are eaten and killed by the native species. With bobcats, coyotes, Mt lions, and eagles around cats do not have a chance. In all my years with many thousands of hours of wilderness observations in remote locations, I have never seen one feral cat, EVER. But I have seen plenty of these cat killers and cats that wander too far from the safety of communities disappear. So not only can these species easily kill a cat, they can out-compete them with their survival skills.

The primary bird problem with cats is in their association with people. Even then the feral cats depend on people and communities. This is where they find their food and shelter away from these other species. This is also where they do their damage to birds and it can be significant. But these cats do not primarily eat birds. They will eat mice, rats, large insects, forage at dumps, trash bins, and even steal left over dog food from back yards. They also eat bird species which are strongly associated with people, those being English sparrows, pigeons, and starlings. A feral cat’s diet is in no way a threat or problem with most of the specialized species being chopped up by turbines. There is another factor in all of this besides these other species that eat feral cats, have territories. They may be in the range of 5-10 square miles or even a hundred with a Mt. lion. By comparison in 5 square mile area around a community you can expect up to several thousand feral cats and house cats.

Cats are not slaughtering every indigenous bird species birds in their remote locations. House cats and feral cats in remote locations are not slaughtering off eagles, cranes, geese, and every other species that flies. It is the wind turbines.
23 JohnInMA { 03.18.13 at 11:36 am }

Jon Boone: I don’t “peddle” anything. I’m pretty surprised to see an emotional rant here, but, then, I have only recently become aware of the site’s existence. And unless you are some site monitor who can ban me, I’ll continue to participate against your hopes. I apologize in advance if that angers you.

I’m fully aware of complex concepts as they relate to energy, power, and networks. I work in the industry. I suggest you read my words more carefully. There isn’t a proposal to directly “entangle” machines and windmills or solar panels. Power grids/networks are complex systems, stochastic (random) in nature, requiring somewhat sophisticated control to ensure adequate power quality/supply. Adding additional, variable ‘power’ from ‘energy’ sources like wind or solar has proven to be feasible without a costly or technically involved rework of the control schemes. Sure, there is a push for more efficient controls, including Smart Grids, etc. That’s a separate topic. Management of the most elemental and critical features like reactive power and frequency is not negatively impacted at appropriate levels of wind and solar penetration. You cannot extrapolate those realities to some hypothetical future of 100% power provision from wind or solar, as I assume you do in your response. And I did not propose that future.

But I agree that you are right in this: The challenge for the wind and solar industry must be economic feasibility in a world powered by nuclear and fossil fuels. Too many of the “well meaning” scientists and political operatives (non-profits especially) are willing to dismiss or discount that necessity, in fact suggesting that higher cost power is a beneficial outcome as long as it corresponds to other goals (carbon reduction, reducing energy demand, etc.). There are even some who speculate that by forcing (mandating) artificially set amounts of wind and solar energy, appropriate efficiency will necessarily follow. To be clear, I am not in those camps. I’m in this camp: The one that sees a role, or ‘natural fit’ as I said earlier, for an evolving portion of power from wind and solar. The natural fit might be quite low for some time. The dependencies are more obvious when not distorted by those who have a vested interest in the sale and installation of those systems, to start.

I am also one of ‘those people’ who see the value of nuclear energy even though it suffers from some of the same issues, at differing degrees, as wind and solar while offering other benefits. After years, current technology has yet to reach cost parity with other sources, for one example. But it is not a reason to stop evolving the technology. Same with wind and solar. We simply disagree, it seems.
24 Jon Boone { 03.18.13 at 3:27 pm }

JohnInMA:
I’ve been at this for more than a decade. Early on, I was patient with folks who, in their well meaning but BSing ways attempted to defend the renewables du jour. But I’m no longer patient with those who bluster with pretension on subjects they really know nothing about. And I get curdled by folks who seek to defend the likes of mainline environmental organizations and their oafish energy policy prescriptions: their behavior is not simply boorish because it’s so demonstrably daffy and dysfunctional; rather, it’s menacing because it supports uncivil, environmentally treacherous technology that threatens the basic fabric of society and subverts much I hold dear, including intellectual integrity.

If you want to be brought up to speed about what I’ve done on this blog, particularly in the context of supporting the cause of capacity generation for electricity and as a strong endorser of nuclear technology, I suggest the following: http://www.masterresource.org/2012/01/tuckers-terrestrialism-modernity–and http://www.masterresource.org/2011/01/wind-howlers-part-i/. For more, see: http://www.stopillwind.org.

What I find problematic about your stance on renewables is this statement: “So, for me, there is no reason to think energy from another abundant fuel source like wind or solar, or perhaps geothermal, doesn’t have a natural fit that evolves with technology (capability).” As if there aren’t many reason for you to think so, like their energy density. As if all energy sources somehow are acceptable in some large technology tent (this is precisely how AWEA markets its product, allowing the public to infer that wind is just as respectable as nuclear or any effective capacity producer).

Geothermal, of course, represents a proven capacity resource. And where it can be exploited for electricity in an environmentally responsible way, it should be. It’s generally a better resource for heat and heating water. Solar will never be functional at grid scale (attempts to make it seem so by pointing out opportunities in the desert Southwest make me cringe, at a number of levels); however, as I stated, innovation may one day render it a routine technology for traffic control, building materials, and emergency situations in areas with no modern amenities, not to mention advertising billboards.

Where we cross swords utterly is in your casual examples where wind technology might “fit.” Tell that to the good citizens of Molokai with whom I’ve worked and who have been desperately working to keep Goliath Wind from their shores and waters. Tell that to those living in those Caribbean Islands you mention who are concerned about protecting their avifauna and sense of natural beauty. It’s not clear what you mean by recommending wind as a means of shoring up their transportation systems but if it’s yet another lead in to hydrogen storage, that dog won’t hunt here. The gargantuan presence required for such an antediluvian technology should preclude any discussion about it. Hamsters on a wheel would be a better substitute.

If individuals want to take the time, trouble, and expense to place renewable machines, including wind and solar arrays, responsibly on their property, they’d have no problems with me, although I would oppose any use of net metering schemes to “incentivize” such enterprise. If hucksters want to keep wind machines on the public dole for ostensible service–anywhere–to a contemporary electricity grid, then I’ll work to expose them for the bunco they’re committing.

Finally, I’ve worked for some years, quietly, to help those in Massachusetts afflicted by the Falmouth and Cape Wind farragos. Since I have no time for dueling anonymous bloggers, I’ll end my exchange with you here, hoping that on all the important issues of the day we are generally in concord.
25 JohnInMA { 03.19.13 at 10:12 am }

Jon Boone: You continue to post language to say I know nothing about my position, or I’ve somehow innocently or foolishly fallen prey to “BSing” groups supporting the “renewables du jour”. It’s an odd way of dealing with those who disagree, and especially if only on certain points. As if there are only two positions – either pure opposition to all or some Sierra/Greenpeace position. Somehow I’m assigned to be in the Sierra, et al., category. It comes across as more fanatical, bordering on zealotry to me.

I’m not going to pound my chest about my educational and working background. Repeating my last post, be sure I know plenty about energy, power, electricity, and most all aspects of managing the storage, transmission, and distribution of it since starting in the nuclear power industry in the late 70s. I’ve watched the progress in power generation and supply through mistakes and home runs alike. Many mistakes are attributable to policy and twiddling by the same parties (elected officials and various organizations), some just with differening names over time. But one thing is certain: there wouldn’t be any nuclear power at all had the original naysayers won the battle. Plants would have been decommissioned very early and licenses and permits never granted had designers and utilities not persevered and those who opposed it on economic or just hypothetical grounds won (a different group of catastrophe theorists). Capacity factors that now reach 90%, and greater, were almost unthinkable in the late 70s. Yet, even today, nuclear generation is not on par with other fuel sources and could be eliminated if one were only targeting single factors.

Although repetitious, my position that there is some current and future value for wind and solar – natural in the context of market and demand forces – seems weirdly heretical to you. You have no tolerance for it. I see energy density as a limiting factor, you see it as an eliminating factor. I see design requirements, you see impenetrable obstacles. Avian protection is a prime example. Beauty (or disruption of beauty) is one place you win. I can’t argue that or interpret it through an engineer’s eyes. I see ugly buildings that are quite functional, for example. The quickest example I can come up with off the top this morning that reinforces my position, without putting much thought into it, are the words of John Watson, current CEO of Chevron. Picking the most essential lines:

“But despite an abundance of fossil fuels in the world, we realize that given the scale of demand growth, they alone won’t be enough. We’ll also need safe and reliable supplies of nuclear energy. Over time, we’ll need renewables to play an increasing role. And we’ll need to use all forms of energy as efficiently as possible.”

And, “We need a refreshed policy approach that recognizes the value of fossil fuels and allows a market-driven transition to affordable substitutes over time. And I would suggest that only an energy policy with affordability as its central goal has the potential to deliver long-term economic, energy and environmental security”.

So, yes, I find that differing energy sources ARE “acceptable in some large energy tent.” And many who I have worked with, from multi-nationals who build generating systems (fired and un-fired alike), to utilities, to venture capitalists all see potential, most without the goal to rent seek (most, not all).

You probably won’t value any advice from me. Still, consider that your approach almost guarantees few converts. Prepare for a lot more anger and frustration.

Source: http://www.chevron.com/chevron/speeches/article/10192011_theenergyrenaissance.news
26 Jon Boone { 03.19.13 at 12:51 pm }

JIM: Here’s a comment taken from one of my posts on MR last year that should clarify what I think of Chevron and its CEO:

“It is true that federal and state subsidies are excellent revenue enhancers for corporations with a lot of discretionary income to retain through tax avoidance. Companies swaddled in fossil fuels are doing just this—and they are legion, knowing that wind will embellish their fossil fuel market share and can never be an “alternate” energy source, since they can’t provide modern power. Just a glance at the plethora of ecomagination ads for renewables from virtually all the energy giants (among the most galling for me are those from Chevron) should be instructive. Even Areva plays this game.”

Note the oleaginous way Chevron ads give ballast to AWEA and succor to the energy clueless:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujR9K0cFNBE. Again, if you think renewables like wind and solar belong on an electricity grid, why not as strongly support gliders in the air transport sector? The comparison is apt. Surely they would improve efficiency and boost productivity.

I’m not the only one disgusted by the Romneyesque burlesque involved with the notion of “every little bit helps” and “we must all conserve” in the context of selling renewables tax shelter generation.
27 UzUrBrain { 03.23.13 at 5:22 pm }

Compare the extreme effort taken (and regulatory mandated) by any form of commercial power plant or other industry that extracts large amounts of water from a lake or river (e.g., structures that minimize the flow to a level that even fingerlings can escape, several sequentially separated layers of screening, escape paths, etc., etc.) with the complete utter lack of protection for protection to these bird/bat Cuisinart’s. WHY?
28 UzUrBrain { 03.23.13 at 5:33 pm }

I would also like to add to Jim Wiegand { 03.18.13 at 10:41 am }
I lived on about 100 acres in upstate NY, near Pulaski. I watched one evening as an eagle swooped down and picked up our Lhasa Apso and carried it away from our back yard while it was squatting to do it’s business. It maneuvered quite easily past the power line that was in its path. I don’t think a cat will last very long in the wild.
29 Jim Wiegand { 03.23.13 at 6:26 pm }

I must say the most of the comments are very good and people seem to be very interested this information. Knowing about the slaughter of wildlife and habitat destruction by the wind industry should rally the people, especially people that understand the value of these species. But take it from me; the people behind this industry could care less. Look at what the industry and agencies have done to the whooping cranes, condors, eagles not to mention the poor people that have to live near these monsters. There are problems with all of this that go far beyond these turbines that people need to become aware of. The world you thought you knew and the world portrayed by your leaders, is DEAD.

I am going to present some additional wind industry information from Europe because people in North America have no idea how many thousands of turbines have been installed over there. Think about it and ask yourself, What has improved for them? The countries that produce these beasts have fat bank accounts but what has really been the benefit to the people or the world?
I can tell you thousands of golden eagles that once lived in Scandinavia are missing. They disappeared after the wind energy boom in Europe. These eagles had to migrate in the winter months to survive where they were met with an onslaught of turbines that were constructed in their winter habitat.
The industry knew all about it because they were finding the bodies. In an effort to hide the genocide the EU LIFE Environment Program which is backed by European financial institutions and the wind industry, paid for a 2008 study called “Territory occupancy and breeding success of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) around tourist destinations in northern Finland”. If you can find this study, copy it and show your friends. Show them what now passes as science in this world. It is one of the worst studies ever produced.
According to this study, tourism (snowmobiles and skiers) were the likely cause for the golden eagle habitat abandonment in Finland. What is amazing (or disgusting) about the study is that no direct evidence was ever provided but it would have been very easy to get with a couple of fly-overs. In other words no footprints, ski trails, or snowmobile tracks were ever shown to be near any active or abandoned nests. The eagles begin nesting in March and a blanket of snow stays on the ground into May. Ariel photos and observations of human activity would have been critical to this study. Yet none were provided.

When dealing with the wind industry this is what everybody has to put up with. Layers of corruption that are so deep you almost need to bulldoze everything and start over. At the root of the problem are corporate profits and a system that rewards these companies for their path of destruction.
30 David Shows { 03.26.13 at 12:32 pm }

Thank you for your investigation and comments everyone. I’ve been suspicious of wind as an environmental cure, not because of these but also the rare elements used in the production of magnets. I’m a believer that the facts eventually will win out, and it will happen because of discussion like the ones here.

– See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/03/wind-avian-mortality-ii/#more-24736

Big Wind & Avian Mortality – Part I: Problem Identification)

March 14, 2013
Master
by Jim Wiegand

“The [2004 California Energy Commission] study also discussed how higher raptor mortality occurred when smaller towers were “upgraded” with larger turbines and proportionally longer blades. These wind turbines offered what raptors perceived as intermediate to very big windows of opportunity to fly through what looked like open spaces between towers…. However, the industry … rapidly installed thousands of these much larger turbines across America … and focused attention on new study results that reflected far less accurate (and honest) searches and surveys.”

In 1984, the California Energy Commission concluded in regard to the state’s wind industry: “[M]any institutional, engineering, environmental and economic issues must be resolved before the industry is secure and its growth can be assured.” Though it was between the lines, the primary environmental issue alluded to was the extreme hazard that wind turbines posed to raptors.

But the wind industry pretty much knew that there was little that could be done to make its propeller-style turbines safe for raptors. With exposed blade tips spinning in open space at speeds up to 200 mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half – or left with a smashed wing, to stumble around for days before dying.

To hide this inconvenient truth, strict wind farm operating guidelines were established – including high security around turbines, gag orders in agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies.

Some three decades later, the wind developers’ hide-the-problem strategy has largely hidden the avian mortality problem. While the public has some understanding that birds are killed by wind turbines, it doesn’t have a clue about the real mortality numbers.

And the industry gets rewarded with a raft of special ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies–and immunity from endangered species and other wildlife laws.

Early Studies: Problem Identification
To fully grasp the wind turbine mortality problem, one needs to examine a 2004 report about the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) by the California Energy Commission (CEC). Developing Methods to Reduce Bird Mortality in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. The study usefully began (p. 1):

For decades, research has shown that wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) kill many birds, including raptors, which as protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and/or state and federal Endangered Species Acts. Each violation of these acts can result in fines and/or criminal convictions.

The study’s five-year review (1998–2003) was partial (the researchers did not have full access to all the Altamont turbines) but illustrative of a great problem.

This careful, honest effort analyzed turbine characteristics in relation to mortality and estimated mortality from body counts compiled in careful searches. Researchers then adjusted mortality numbers by examining statistical data based on searcher efficiency and other factors, such as carcass removal by predators and scavengers. The report even suggested that the mortality estimates probably erred on the low side, due to missed carcasses and other human errors.

This study stands in marked contrast to studies being conducted today, especially the Wildlife Reporting Response System, which is currently the only analysis happening or permitted at most wind farms. The WRRS is the power companies’ own fatality reporting system, and allows paid personnel to collect and count carcasses. It explains why mortality numbers are always on the low side and why many high-profile species are disappearing near turbine installations.

Incredibly, the APWRA report actually admitted (chapter 3, p. 52):

We found one raptor carcass buried under rocks and another stuffed in a ground squirrel burrow. One operator neglected to inform us when a golden eagle was removed as part of the WRRS. Based on these experiences, it is possible that we missed other carcasses that were removed.

It’s easy to see how human “errors” keep bird mortality low.

The APWRA study also documented that raptor food sources, turbine sizes and turbine placement all directly affect raptor mortality. It was thus able to identify many of the most dangerous turbines or groups of turbines – those with a history of killing golden eagles, kestrels, burrowing owls, and red-tailed hawks.

The study also discussed how higher raptor mortality occurred when smaller towers were “upgraded” with larger turbines and proportionally longer blades. These wind turbines offered what raptors perceived as intermediate to very big windows of opportunity to fly through what looked like open spaces between towers.

But actually, this space was occupied by much longer, rapidly moving rotor blades, resulting in significantly more fatalities of golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, burrowing owls, mallards, horned larks and western meadowlarks. Turbines with slower rotations per minute actually made it appear that there was more space and “greater windows of time.” This fooled birds, by giving them the illusion that they had open flight space between the rotating blades.

The illusion fools people, too. The newest turbines move their blades at 10–20 rotations per minute, which appears to be slow – but for their blade tips this translates into 100–200 mph!

All this was very important, because the industry was moving away from smaller turbines and installing much larger turbines, with much longer blades.

However, the industry not only ignored the APWRA findings and rapidly installed thousands of these much larger turbines across America, despite their far greater dangers for birds and raptors. It also kept the APWRA out of the public’s awareness, and focused attention on new study results that reflected far less accurate (and honest) searches and surveys.

Part II Tomorrow: Studies Deteriorate in Face of Wind Industry Pressure

___________

Jim Wiegand is an independent wildlife expert with decades of field observations and analytical work. He is vice president of the US region of Save the Eagles International, an organization devoted to researching, protecting and preserving avian species threatened by human encroachment and development.

20 comments

1 wintercow20 { 03.14.13 at 7:32 am }
But I don’t see why we focus so much on the turbines. Even at high mortality rates from turbines, these are relatively small numbers especially as compared to other things that hurt bird populations.

HOWEVER, we know that power lines are a major problem for birds and kill order(s) of magnitude more than turbines could possibly kill. So why does this matter? Because turbines are sited far from where much of the energy is needed, so relying on wind is going to require a large buildout of high voltage transmission lines (which remember of course require no energy to build and have no impact on their landscape) from all parts of the country, including in many of the areas most prone to bird migration. In other words, if the data even suggested that turbines killed not a single bird, wind would nonetheless be devastating for the bird population.

2 Jon Boone { 03.14.13 at 9:02 am }
wintercow20:
Your first question marks the beginning of your learning curve about this issue. We should care about birds and 400-500 foot tall wind turbines, with rotor blades moving nearly 200-mph at their tips (as stated in this post), because this is yet one more, preventable, thing humans do that induces substantial avian mortality. All knowledgeable birders know, for example, that domestic cats are the nation’s leading killer of birds; estimates suggest the annual bird mortality from cats at around a half BILLION birds. The next leading cause of bird mortality is collisions from tall structures–such as skyscrapers, cell towers, communication towers, etc. The third leading cause is collisions with windows. The fourth leading cause of mortality is habitat loss, followed by automobiles, pesticides/insecticides, and, well, pick your poison from there.

Domestic cats, however, generally don’t kill birds whose populations are at high risk, as wind turbines do, since they are typically sited in remote rural areas in the midst of heavy bird migration pathways. Neotropical songbirds are especially vulnerable at night in heavy fog or clouds. Of course, wind turbines attract raptors like hawks and eagles: it is well known that San Francisco’s Altamont Pass wind installation has killed many thousands of these species over the last several decades.

You, and others, should not commit the ethical fallacy that because cats will kill more birds than wind turbines will, wind turbines should get a pass. Ten wrongs don’t make a right, even in the wonderland of windworld. Moreover, imagine the righteous but just outcry if a coal farm or a nuclear park were known to be slaughtering a fair number of Bald Eagles.

If you’d like to know a bit more about this issue, consider reading pages 15-18 of my PSC testimony: http://tinyurl.com/cmnqs5j

Your point about problems with virtually dedicated transmission lines for wind is on target; this is a well documented problem, offering yet another gauntlet of risk for our avifauna.

3 JohnInMA { 03.14.13 at 9:55 am }
I haven’t seen much defense of the wind farms’ impact on avian life, but I suspect the usual premises are used to rationalize the realities. As ‘wintercow20′ offers, there are greater dangers for birds in the world, including other man made obstacles (colliding into tall, reflective structures) and natural predators (even cats). That doesn’t take into account the specific dangers for, say, kestrels or burrowing owls, for example. I suspect the Altamont Pass is a statistically significant danger versus a glossy office building for certain bird genuses in that specific region if not for an even larger boundary.

But to counter, surely wind energy defenders who routinely use their analytically derived emissions reduction values would also apply such logic to these risks. So, the theoretical reductions in harmful emissions have some equivalent ‘lives saved’ value most likely. Perhaps there is a beneficial balance for wind farms in that case?? And that would add another incentive to influencing ‘officially’ measured bird mortality rates.

I guess my point is – just as there are steady arguments about the economic and climatic benefits of wind, so there would be for this impact, too. It will boil down to the ‘greater good’, pitting the theoretical dangers fossil plants against the theoretical benefits of wind farm production.

4 Jim Wiegand { 03.14.13 at 2:03 pm }
I focus on wind turbines – primarily the deadly propeller-style turbines – for a number of reasons. Here are some of the better reasons to forever end propeller-style turbines.

(1) Wind is portrayed as being clean, eco-friendly, renewable, good for the planet, the energy of the future – when it is not, and has numerous decidedly anti-ecological impacts.
(2) We are not talking about abundant, common, urban birds like pigeons, starlings and sparrows killed by house cats or reflective windows – but vital, far less abundant species that sustain essential wildlife habitats and ecosystems. Wind turbines slaughter too many of these rare and protected species in their remote habitats.
(3) Wind turbines fragment valuable ecosystems, taking over pristine habitats needed for the survival of rare species and turning them into death traps for every species that flies.
(4) Wind turbines are the single biggest reason for the decline of the golden eagle and whooping crane populations.
(5) Wind turbines destroyed the historical habitat for the California condor, making them entirely dependent on feeding stations.
(6) Wind turbines are a major reason for bird population declines in Europe, especially for the golden eagles in Scandinavia.
(7) Wind turbines have been promoted with completely bogus studies and sheltered from accountability for their devastation through the collusion of government wildlife agencies and environmentalist groups for over 30 years.
(8) There is no way to ever make this design safe. If their spread is not stopped, they will cause the extinction of dozens of rare species all across the world.

Why focus on these turbines, when power lines also kill birds? There is a huge difference between turbine blades and power lines, unless one supports and relies on bogus research. Power lines are not moving at 200 mph and they can be easily seen by birds (which have great eyesight) under most daytime circumstances. Bats can also easily avoid power lines. Although power lines do kill some birds, their impact is minor compared to turbine blades.

There is also a tremendous difference between a power line a collision and a turbine blade strike. When a blade moving at 200 mph, hits a bird, it is all over. The chances of a bird getting hit by a turbine blade are also far greater, not only because the blades are moving at a tremendous rate of speed, but because the impact square footage from the rotor sweep of one turbine is equal to over 200 miles of 1 inch diameter power line. So if you have a hundred 2.5 mw turbines in a 100 square mile area, it is the equivalent to the impact area of over 20,000 miles of power lines moving at a high rate of speed crammed into a small area. There really is no question that wind turbines are far more deadly for birds.

The massive Sheppard’s Flat wind farm makes it is easy to understand why no golden eagles will ever live there again, and over time many thousands of raptors will eventually perish. At 845 MW at this one location, amid a huge and once prolific bird and wildlife habitat, there will be 338 2.5-MW wind turbines with the spinning square footage equivalent of over 76,000 miles of 1 inch power lines stuffed into this 30-square-mile (78 km2) wind farm.

As to the turbines’ supposed energy output, the public has also been horribly misled about is how little energy these turbine projects actually produce. They are not and never will be an answer to society’s energy needs. But the public will not be told any of this until the industry and financial institutions backing this madness have sold as many of them as they possibly can – and killed as many birds and bats as one could hardly imagine in their worst nightmares.

5 rbradley { 03.14.13 at 5:17 pm }
I think any bird kills or other negatives of wind turbines is wholly unnecessary and a cost because industrial wind is not a stand-alone, viable energy business. It is wholly an artificial construct of government intervention, aided and abetted by none other than environmental groups.

For this reason, NIMBYism with wind turbines is reason to pause unlike NIMBYism with, say, a gas-fired powerplant built without (involuntary) taxpayer involvement.

6 Jim Wiegand { 03.14.13 at 5:55 pm }
I have heard about the greater good argument for years. It has always been a lame argument especially when being sold by the industry, their political mouthpieces and the saps in the media. It is even harder to justify any greater good when the lies are taken off the table and the truth exposed.

This is an absolute fact. Species extinction will occur from these turbines. It would have already happened and still would, if the feeding stations were suddenly taken from the condors. There will be a worldwide collapse of many bird and bat populations and society’s energy problems will still not even be close to being solved by wind turbines. These are very severe consequences for a non-solution. There will never be any greater good from the use of the propeller style wind turbine.

7 Jon Boone { 03.14.13 at 10:21 pm }
JohnInMA:
The wind “industry” does indeed “use” a greater good metric to defend the way it kills wildlife. And it relies upon people like yourself who rationalize that such enterprise would not do this otherwise, that is, it would not purposely slaughter wildlife without a good, societally approved reason. This is where I came in to this fray more than a decade ago.

My vast experience with this dreadful industry since then has revealed nothing but mendacity, at every level of its existence–starting with bird kills, moving along to bats, moving along to the removal of sensitive ecological habitats, the devaluation of property, the noise of its equipment (“like the sound of the wind in the leaves,” etc, etc, ad nauseum.

When cornered by the truth, the industry falls back on its basic gumbo, which I’ve heard often: “Some will have to sacrifice if we’re to have the clean, green energy from the wind.”

If you believe such demonstrably errant nonsense–that an antediluvian, always fluttering technology that is wholly unreliable, never controllable or dispatchable, and rarely comes into play when it’s needed most in a system dependent upon the meshing of high precision machinery can render a service to the electricity sector that would justify the taking of one earthly creature–hold onto your wallet (at the very least, invest in a scheme that claims gliders are the next good thing in commercial aviation.

And know that folks like you are a major force enabling this scam. Having the end justify the means, when the end has no there there–only highly destructive dysfunction–is really the last refuge of a scoundrel. Oh, and speaking of Dr. Johnson, the wind industry is also highly patriotic, nearly always featuring a giant American flag on the cover of its applications for a regulatory permit to do “business.”

8 Mike Mellor { 03.15.13 at 8:56 am }
Jim Wiegand, what are the mortality numbers for the UK, Denmark, Germany etc?

9 JohnInMA { 03.15.13 at 10:17 am }

Jon Boone & Jim Wiegand:
Funny, my comments were intended to highlight the expected ‘pushback’ from the industry, predicting it will be or would be based on analytical and theoretical information versus empirical (real), and by diverting attention to the larger risks for the general bird population. Clumsily written, perhaps, my intent was to say how general avian risks are irrelevant to the fate of LOCAL burrowing owls, for one example. And impacts from projected emissions reductions as applied to birds is just as tenuous as when applied to human life. One can rarely prove conclusively that an illness or a death is directly related.

In hindsight, maybe I should have simply started the post with, “I don’t agree, but I expect…..” Because as my as my “hopes” drive me to want to extract energy efficiently and effectively from natural, free sources, I too have become disillusioned by the politics of the associated industries and their “non-profit” supporters. And one need look no further than the region cited in the original post to find some of the greatest distortions/spin and especially hypocrisy – essentially turning a blind eye to existing wildlife regulations at best and offering ‘exemptions’ at worst. It is that hypocrisy that drives me to conclude the ‘greater good’ rationalization must be in play, whether or not always overt.

I’ll make my positions more clear in future posts.

10 Jon Boone { 03.15.13 at 12:59 pm }
JohnInMA:
Thanks for the clarification. As Richard Feynman once said, knowing even the smallest thing is such a big deal.

And, the more you dig into this issue, the more you’ll find that the wind enterprise is suffused with Pecksniffian sanctimony at every level of its “operation.”

11 Bill Chaffee { 03.17.13 at 12:20 am }
Wind power is one of the least desirable forms of nuclear power. Wind results from uneven heating of the earth by a nuclear reactor approximately 93,000,000 miles away.

12 A few bits from the National Press | Cumbria Wind Watch Blog { 03.21.13 at 3:42 am }
[…] reading about birds – especially raptors (eagles) being killed by turbines http://www.masterresource.org/2013/03/avian-mortality-wind-i/ Categories: National Press. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a […]

13 Bernal { 03.21.13 at 11:09 am }

Yeah my cat came home with an eagle just the other day. Ate the whole thing.

How is it possible to say anything at all about the ranking of windmills as bird killers when studies are biased as they are. I know, why doesn’t Big Oil buy a windmill and let Jim actually study how damaging they really are. On the other hand I am sure Big Oil owns more windmills than I do so why would they want to know. Who does own these things?

Would it be possible to study this photographically or even acoustically from land not controlled by the windmill owner. I am sure the Altamont study is good but O.M.G. it is so last decade. Not the New! and Improved! studies being done now; )

14 UzUrBrain { 03.23.13 at 5:09 pm }

Birds/bats do not need to be hit by the blades to become casualties. The rapid change in air pressure is enough. There is no rapid change in air pressure around power lines.

Up until a few years ago there was a large wind-turbine at about the 70 mile marker on I-80 in Iowa, for a small manufacturing co. that has since outgrown that facility and moved. A good friend of my wife worked there. each morning she had to go out with a large sixe pooper-scooper and collect the several dead birds. How many do you see under the power lines on your street as you drive to work?

15 Eco-imperialism joins vulture environmentalism { 03.25.13 at 2:07 pm }
[…] and bats are exterminated year after year by wind turbines, they turn a blind eye and actively help hide the horrific slaughter, while ignoring evidence that turbines impair the health of people living near […]

16 Guy Ventner { 03.25.13 at 7:59 pm }
The cat defense was a charade, thought up by the American Wind Energy Association (GE, Vestas, ets) and published though the US Fish and Wildlife.

In a study done of of Golden Eagles in California tracked by radio collars…the NUMBER 1 killer were Industrial Wind Turbines….period…not cars, not tall buildings not cats. These are low reproducing birds…and roughly 10% of the California population is killed annually by the turbines already built with many more planned. The population is only replenished from other states that haven’t yet carpeted their land in these perfect raptor killers. As for small birds being killed…lots are killed by big birds, ground animals, houses, cars and yes cats…they have been killed by other animals for eons. I have had a number of cats and they killed maybe a bird every other month probably more like 3-4 a year. In a study done in NJ by the Audubon society they found that each.

Industrial Wind Turbine killing 78 birds and bats a year…for EACH TURBINE. This included an endangered Peregrine Falcons(26 breeding pair in the entire state) and threatened Osprey. This was a 5 turbine array. As we know wind energy ignores and lies about its impact. Note the study is only done for the first 2 years…then no record is kept as to impact. So give me a break on the fraudulent guesstimate of cats and cars. I can count on one hand the number of birds that I have killed by car in my 50 years of life. And yes just because other sources kill birds…doesn’t make it right to build 50 story industrial machine perfect for killing birds. Are you killing 78 birds and bats per year with your car or house? Efficiency and Conservation are 10 times more cost effective at reducing CO2, but their is little lobbyist money in the that…and little for bankers and other skimmers.

Wind and Solar do little to reduce CO2…as witnessed in Germany where they have spent 100′s of billion on renewables and just saw a 1.6% increase in CO2 output…along with a 40% increase in 5 years of electricity cost(remember this is about MONEY). Wind and solar work roughyl about 10%-40% of the time…what is the plan for the other 90%-60% of time? If CO2 reduction was truly urgency then nuclear the only 100% available CO2 free energy source would be the order of the day…but alas that isn’t what this is all about is it? Wind Energy harm people, land and animals for little gain.

In Texas a study showed increase in SO2 and NO2 due to the highly variable output of wind requiring constant change in the output from baseload power production(plus damager to baseload generators)…OH great, the great renewable produced more real pollution! Then we have wood burning BIOMASS…the highest CO2 output source of power…is a favored sources as well…this shows how wrong this charade is!

17 Eco-imperialism joins vulture environmentalism | Somewhat Reasonable { 03.27.13 at 2:28 pm }
[…] and bats are exterminated year after year by wind turbines, they turn a blind eye and actively help hide the horrific slaughter, while ignoring evidence that turbines impair the health of people living near […]

18 Government bureaucrats delay life-saving road projects, but let wind turbines butcher bats | Watts Up With That? { 04.07.13 at 11:53 am }

[…] along their turbine-dotted Alberta-to-Texas migratory corridor); allows wind facility operators to use search methods that ensure that most dead and injured birds (and bats) will never be found; initiated a process to […]

19 Streetwise Professor » Take Care of Our Fine Feathered Friends: Wind Blows (and Ethanol Does Too), or Wind (and Ethanol) are Bat Sh*t Crazy { 04.07.13 at 5:25 pm }

[…] Master Resource and Watts Up With That? provide chapter and verse about the number of flying creatures killed every year by wind turbines. The numbers are in the 10s of millions in the US alone, not to mention Europe. Each turbine kills several hundred birds per year. In some locations, bats are major contributors to the body count. […]

20 rmpbklyn { 06.16.13 at 9:09 am }
Wind turbines at Altamont Pass kill an estimate 880 to 1,300 birds of prey each year, including up to 116 golden eagles, 300 red-tailed hawks, 380burrowing owls, and additional hundreds of other raptors including kestrels, falcons, vultures, and other owl species. The APWRA is an ecological sink for golden eagles and other raptor species and may be having significant impacts on populations of birds that are rare and reproduce infrequently.
http://www.goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/birds-at-risk/avian-mortality-at-altamont-pass/

“Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks—as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/wind-energy-under-attack-for-thousands-of-wildlife-deaths/

The project proposed by Wind Capital Group of St. Louis would erect 94 wind turbines on 8,400 acres that the Osage Nation says contains key eagle-nesting habitat and migratory routes. http://bdnews24.com/environment/2013/06/15/native-americans-decry-eagle-deaths

– See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/03/avian-mortality-wind-i/#sthash.a8sCKVDZ.dpuf

The Price of Green Energy: Is Germany Killing the Environment to Save It?

sp
March 12, 2013
By SPIEGEL Staff

The German government is carrying out a rapid expansion of renewable energies like wind, solar and biogas, yet the process is taking a toll on nature conservation. The issue is causing a rift in the environmental movement, pitting “green energy” supporters against ecologists.

The Bagpipe, a woody knoll in northern Hesse, can only be recommended to hikers with reservations. This here is lumberjack country. Broad, clear-cut lanes crisscross the area. The tracks of heavy vehicles can be seen in the snow. And there is a vast clearing full of the stumps of recently felled trees.

ANZEIGE
Martin Kaiser, a forest expert with Greenpeace, gets up on a thick stump and points in a circle. “Mighty, old beech trees used to stand all over here,” he says. Now the branches of the felled giants lie in large piles on the ground. Here and there, lone bare-branch survivors project into the sky.

Kaiser says this is “a climate-policy disaster” and estimates that this clear-cutting alone will release more than 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Forests are important for lowering levels of greenhouse gases, as large quantities of carbon dioxide are trapped in wood — especially the wood of ancient beech trees like these. Less than two years ago, UNESCO added the “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” to its list of World Natural Heritage Sites.

It wasn’t any private forest magnate who cleared these woods out. Rather, it was Hessen-Forst, a forestry company owned by the western German state of Hesse. For some years now, wood has enjoyed a reputation for being an excellent source of energy — one that is eco-friendly and presumably climate neutral. At the moment, more than half of the lumber felled in Germany makes into way into biomass power plants or wood-pellet heating systems. The result has been an increase in prices for wood and the related profit expectations. The prospect of making a quick buck, Kaiser says, “has led to a downright brutalization of the forestry business.”

The Costs of Going Green

One would assume that ecology and the Energiewende, Germany’s plans to phase out nuclear energy and increase its reliance on renewable sources, were natural allies. But in reality, the two goals have been coming into greater and greater conflict. “With the use of wood, especially,” Kaiser says, “the limits of sustainability have already been exceeded several times.” To understand what this really means, one needs to know Kaiser’s background: For several years, he has been the head of the climate division at Greenpeace Germany’s headquarters in Hamburg.

Things have changed in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government launched its energy transition policy in June 2011, prompted by the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan. The decision to hastily shut down all German nuclear power plants by 2022 has shifted the political fronts. Old coalitions have been shattered and replaced by new ones. In an ironic twist, members of the environmentalist Green Party have suddenly mutated into advocates of an unprecedented industrialization of large areas of land, while Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats have been advocating for more measures to protect nature.

Merkel’s energy policies have driven a deep wedge into the environmental movement. While it celebrates the success of renewable energies as one of its greatest victories, it is profoundly unsettled by the effects of the energy transition, which can be seen everywhere across the country.

Indeed, this is not just about cleared forests. Grasslands and fields are being transformed into oceans of energy-producing corn that stretch beyond the horizon. Farmers are using digestate, a by-product of biogas production, to fertilize their fields as soon as they thaw from the winter. And entire tracts of land are being put to industrial use — converted into enormous solar power plants, wind farms or highways of power lines, which will soon stretch from northern to southern Germany.

The public discourse about the energy transition plan is still dominated by its supporters, including many environmentalists who want to see the expansion of renewable energies at any price. They set the tone in government agencies, functioning as advisors to renewable energy firms and policymakers alike. But then there are those feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the way things are going. Out of fear of environmental destruction, they no longer want to remain silent.

Greens in Awkward Position

Although this conflict touches all political parties, none is more affected than the Greens. Since the party’s founding in 1980, it has championed a nuclear phaseout and fought for clean energy. But now that this phaseout is underway, the Greens are realizing a large part of their dream — the utopian idea of a society operating on “good” power — is vanishing into thin air. Green energy, they have found, comes at an enormous cost. And the environment will also pay a price if things keep going as they have been.

Within the Greens’ parliamentary group in the Bundestag, politicians focused on energy policy are facing off against those who champion environmental conservation, fighting over how much support the party should throw behind Merkel’s energy transition. Those who prioritize the environment face a stiff challenge, given that Jürgen Trittin — co-chairman of the parliamentary group who long served as environment minister — is clearly more concerned with energy issues.

In debates, members of the pro-environmental camp have occasionally even been hissed at for supposedly playing into the hands of the nuclear lobby. “We should overcome the temptation to sacrifice environmental protection for the sake of fighting climate change,” says Undine Kurth, a Green parliamentarian from the eastern city of Magdeburg. “Preserving a stable natural environment is just as important.”

“Of course there is friction between environment and climate protection advocates, even in my party,” says Robert Habeck, a leader of the Greens in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein who became its “Energiewende minister” in June 2012 — the first person in Germany to hold that title. “We Greens have suddenly also become an infrastructure party that pushes energy projects forward, while on the other side the classic CDU clientele is taking to the barricades. It’s just like it was 30 years ago, only with reversed roles.”

This role is an unfamiliar one for environmentalists. For a long time, they were the good guys, and the others were the bad guys. But now they’re suddenly on the defensive. They used to be the ones who stood before administrative courts to fight highway and railway projects to protect Northern Shoveler ducks, Great Bustards or rare frog species. But now they are forced to defend massive high-voltage power lines while being careful not to scare off their core environmentalist clientele.

Bärbel Höhn, a former environment minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has a reputation for being a bridge-builder between the blocs. She concedes that there have been mistakes, like with using corn for energy. But these are just teething problems that must be overcome, she adds reassuringly.

Encroaching on Nature Reserves

The opposition in Berlin has so far contented itself with criticizing Merkel, believing that her climate policies have failed and that she has steered Germany’s most important infrastructure project into a wall. Granted, neither the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) nor the Greens are part of the ruling coalition at the federal level, but they do jointly govern a number of Germany’s 16 federal states. And, when forced to choose between nature and renewable energies, it is usually nature that take a back seat in those states.

It was in this way that, in 2009, Germany’s largest solar park to date arose right in the middle of the Lieberoser Heide, a bird sanctuary about a 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Berlin. Since German reunification in 1990, more than 200 endangered species have settled in the former military training grounds. But that didn’t seem to matter. In spite of all the protests by environmentalists, huge areas of ancient pine trees were clear cut in order to make room for solar collectors bigger than soccer fields.

A similar thing happened in Baden-Württemberg, even though the southwestern state has been led for almost two years by Winfried Kretschmann, the first state governor in Germany belonging to the Green Party. In 2012, it was the Greens there who passed a wind-energy decree that aims to boost the number of wind turbines in the state from 400 to roughly 2,500 by 2020. And in the party’s reckoning, nature is standing in the way.

The decree includes an exemption that makes it easier to erect huge windmills in nature conservations areas, where they are otherwise forbidden. But now this exception threatens to become the rule: In many regions of the state, including Stuttgart, Esslingen and Göppingen, district administrators are reporting that they plan to permit wind farms to be erected in several nature reserves.

But apparently even that isn’t enough for Claus Schmiedel, the SPD leader in the state parliament. Two weeks ago, he wrote a letter to Kretschmann recommending that he put the bothersome conservationists back into line. Schmiedel claimed that investors in renewable energies were being “serially harassed by the low-level regional nature-conservation authorities” — and complained that the state government wasn’t doing enough to combat this.

Fears of Magnetic Fields

Just as controversial as the wind farms are the massive electricity masts of the power lines, which bring wind energy from the north to large urban areas in the south. This has led the Greens to favor cables laid underground over the huge overhead lines for some time now. Trittin, the party’s co-leader, believes that using buried cables offers an opportunity “to expand the grid with the backing of the people.”

Ironically, however, there is growing resistance to this supposedly eco- and citizen-friendly form of power transition on the western edge of Göttingen, a university town in central Germany that lies in Trittin’s electoral district.

Harald Wiedemann, of the local citizens’ initiative opposed to underground cables, has already sent to the printers a poster that reads: “Stop! You are now leaving the radiation-free sector.” Plans call for laying 12 cables as thick as an arm 1.5 meters (5 feet) below ground. Wiedemann warns that the planned high-voltage lines will create dangerous magnetic fields.

He and some other locals have marked out the planned course of the lines with barrier tape. It veers away from the highway north of the village, cuts through the fields, runs right next to an elementary school and through a drinking water protection area.

Wiedemann is also the head of the city organization of the Greens, who are generally known as Energiewende backers. “But why do things have to be done so slapdash?” he asks. The planning seems “fragmented,” he says, and those behind them have forgotten “nature conservation, health and agriculture.”

Indeed, underground cables are anything but gentle on the landscape. Twelve thick metal cables laid out in a path 20 meters wide are required to transmit 380,000 volts. No trees are allowed to grow above this strip lest the roots interfere with the cables. The cables warm the earth, and the magnetic fields created by the alternating current power cables also terrify many.

Nature Suffers

Many nature conservationists believe that Germany’s Energiewende is throwing the baby out with the bath water. For example, last week, Germany’s Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) hosted a meeting of scientists and representatives from nature conservation organizations and energy associations in the eastern city of Leipzig.

Kathrin Ammermann, who heads the organization’s unit responsible for renewable energy, is troubled by recent developments. “Increased production of biogas, in particular, has intensified corn monoculture,” she says, noting that this has harmed numerous plant and animal species. Wind turbines also kill birds and bats. “The expansion of renewable energies must not only be carried out in a way that makes the most economic sense, but also in a way that is as friendly as possible to nature and the environment,” she says.

As Germany’s environment minister, it is Peter Altmaier’s job to balance the interests of both sides. But the CDU politician spent his first months in office singing the praises of renewable energies only to then turn around and warn with increasingly grim forecasts of an explosion in electricity prices that can no longer be controlled. Indeed, nature conservation doesn’t exactly top his list of priorities.

Last summer, when he presented his personal 10-point renewable-energy plan, it occurred to him, just in knick of time, that he was also responsible for environmental protection. He then pulled out a few meager words on nature and water protection, which have yet to be followed up with deeds. Nor has any progress been made on a noise-control plan relating to the building of offshore wind farms that had been announced with much fanfare.

At least Norbert Röttgen, Altmaier’s predecessor and fellow CDU member, conceded during his time in office that nature protection might ultimately risk getting put on the back burner as a result of the nuclear phaseout. He even set up a Nature Conservation and Energy division within the ministry to address the issue. Nevertheless, it is the champions of renewable energies who are increasingly dominating the ministry’s policy line, with the traditional advocates of nature and environmental protection just standing back and watching in astonishment. “In decision-making processes, we either get listened to too late or not at all,” says one ministry official. “Nature protection just isn’t an issue the minister has taken up.”

Big Wind tax credit exterminates endangered species

December 22, 2012

http://www.washingtontimes.com

 

The American Wind Energy Association wants its production tax credit (PTC) for wind electricity extended yet again. Congress should say no — and terminate the PTC now.

Wind energy is expensive and unreliable. It does nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is land- and raw-materials-intensive, parasitic and redundant. Whenever the wind is low or inconsistent, every megawatt of wind power must be supported by electricity generated by fossil-fuel plants. Even more damning, wind turbines disrupt wildlife habitats and butcher birds and bats that are vital to ecological diversity and agriculture.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

Read more

Wind farms vs wildlife

January 5, 2013

spectator.co.uk

 

Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.

I’m a lecturer in biological and human sciences at Oxford university. I trained as a zoologist, I’ve worked as an environmental consultant — conducting impact assessments on projects like the Folkestone-to-London rail link — and I now teach ecology and conservation. Though I started out neutral on renewable energy, I’ve since seen the havoc wreaked on wildlife by wind power, hydro power, biofuels and tidal barrages. The environmentalists who support such projects do so for ideological reasons. What few of them have in their heads, though, is the consolation of science.

 

Read more

 

The shocking environmental cost of renewable energy

January 5, 2013 Shredded BatWind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, in this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.

I’m a lecturer in biological and human sciences at Oxford university. I trained as a zoologist, I’ve worked as an environmental consultant — conducting impact assessments on projects like the Folkestone-to-London rail link — and I now teach ecology and conservation. Though I started out neutral on renewable energy, I’ve since seen the havoc wreaked on wildlife by wind power, hydro power, bio-fuels and tidal barrages. The environmentalists who support such projects do so for ideological reasons. What few of them have in their heads, though, is the consolation of science.

My speciality is species extinction. When I was a child, my father used to tell me about all the animals he’d seen growing up in Kent — the grass snakes, the lime hawk moths — and what shocked me when we went looking for them was how few there were left. Species extinction is a serious issue: around the world we’re losing up to 40 a day. Yet environmentalists are urging us to adopt technologies that are hastening this process. Among the most destructive of these is wind power.

Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million birds and bats are killed by wind farms. They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. This breaks down as approximately 110–330 birds per turbine per year and 200–670 bats per year. And these figures may be conservative if you compare them to statistics published in December 2002 by the California Energy Commission: ‘In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden.’

Because wind farms tend to be built on uplands, where there are good thermals, they kill a disproportionate number of raptors. In Australia, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is threatened with global extinction by wind farms. In north America, wind farms are killing tens of thousands of raptors including golden eagles and America’s national bird, the bald eagle. In Spain, the Egyptian vulture is threatened, as too is the Griffon vulture — 400 of which were killed in one year at Navarra alone. Norwegian wind farms kill over ten white-tailed eagles per year and the population of Smøla has been severely impacted by turbines built against the opposition of ornithologists.

Nor are many other avian species safe. In North America, for example, proposed wind farms on the Great Lakes would kill large numbers of migratory songbirds. In the Atlantic, seabirds such as the Manx Shearwater are threatened. Offshore wind farms are just as bad as onshore ones, posing a growing threat to seabirds and migratory birds, and reducing habitat availability for marine birds (such as common scoter and eider ducks).

I’ve heard it suggested that birds will soon adapt to avoid turbine blades. But your ability to learn something when you’ve been whacked on the head by an object travelling at 200 mph is limited. And besides, this comes from a complete misconception of how long it takes species to evolve. Birds have been flying, unimpeded, through the skies for millions of years. They’re hardly going to alter their habits in a few months. You hear similar nonsense from environmentalists about so-called habitat ‘mitigation’. There has been talk, for example, during proposals to build a Severn barrage, that all the waders displaced by the destruction of the mud flats can have their inter-tidal habitat replaced elsewhere. It may be what developers and governments want to hear, but recreating such habitats would take centuries not years — even if space were available. The birds wouldn’t move on somewhere else. They’d just starve to death.

Loss of habitat is the single biggest cause of species extinction. Wind farms not only reduce habitat size but create ‘population sinks’ — zones which attract animals and then kill them. My colleague Mark Duchamp suggests birds are lured in because they see the turbines as perching sites and also because wind towers (because of the grass variations underneath) seem to attract more prey. The turbines also attract bats, whose wholesale destruction poses an ever more serious conservation concern.

Bats are what is known as K-selected species: they reproduce very slowly, live a long time and are easy to wipe out. Having evolved with few predators — flying at night helps — bats did very well with this strategy until the modern world. This is why they are so heavily protected by so many conventions and regulations: the biggest threats to their survival are made by us.

And the worst threat of all right now is wind turbines. A recent study in Germany by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research showed that bats killed by German turbines may have come from places 1,000 or more miles away. This would suggest that German turbines — which an earlier study claims kill more than 200,000 bats a year — may be depressing populations across the entire northeastern portion of Europe. Some studies in the US have put the death toll as high as 70 bats per installed megawatt per year: with 40,000 MW of turbines currently installed in the US and Canada. This would give an annual death toll of up to three -million.

Why is the public not more aware of this carnage? First, because the wind industry (with the shameful complicity of some ornithological organisations) has gone to great trouble to cover it up — to the extent of burying the corpses of victims. Second, because the ongoing obsession with climate change means that many environmentalists are turning a blind eye to the ecological costs of renewable energy. What they clearly don’t appreciate — for they know next to nothing about biology — is that most of the species they claim are threatened by ‘climate change’ have already survived 10 to 20 ice ages, and sea-level rises far more dramatic than any we have experienced in recent millennia or expect in the next few centuries. Climate change won’t drive those species to extinction; well-meaning environmentalists might.

By Clive Hambler
http://www.spectator.co.uk The second edition of Clive Hambler’s Conservation (Cambridge University Press) is out now.