Wind energy safer for birds?

A howler from the wind industry.

As reported by the Clean Energy Report today,

The wind industry is arguing that the permitting rules sought by conservationists in a petition to the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) are unnecessary because voluntary FWS guidelines due out soon or under development will minimize migratory bird risks, a claim that goes to the heart of the controversy over conservationists’ view that voluntary guidelines cannot adequately protect numerous bird species.

While conservationists support “bird smart” wind projects, the current voluntary approach to protecting large birds of prey and raptors, such as the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle, has failed and bird killings by wind projects are on the rise, according to officials with the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a leading non-profit bird protection advocacy group that filed an extensive petition with the FWS Dec. 14 setting forth the group’s concerns and proposing a detailed solution…

But the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says that the wind power industry “has modest impacts on birds compared to other forms of energy generation and should be viewed in context with vastly more significant sources of mortality such as buildings, communication towers, or vehicle collisions,” according to a statement by AWEA director of siting policy John Anderson. [Emphasis added]

As coal and gas power plants, and solar panels are not known to whack birds out of the sky, we’ll assume that the AWEA is referring to oil spills.

But according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the number of birds killed by the 2010 BP oil spill was on the order of a couple thousand or so.

In contrast, the American Bird Conservancy says that wind turbines whack a minimum of 440,000 birds out of the sky every year.

2 responses to “Wind energy safer for birds?

  1. The U. S. has over 40,000 Mw of wind energy generation. There has to be at least 25,000 turbines doing this work. If each turbine whacks one bird a day, this would result in 10 million birds turned into cat food.

    The obvious solution to this problem is for AWEA to require signs be posted around wind farms at a height of 450 feet directing birds around the wind farms.

  2. They wouldn’t spend the money to keep the birds away from the wind farms when they believe that simply creating a regulation requiring the birds to reroute their migrations around the obstacle will be just as effective. It’s the same idea as they are using to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexico border or to eliminate gun crimes by making law-abiding people give up their guns.

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