In the Blog

Wind Farms: A positive negative.

February 12th, 2007     by Catherine Hayday     Comments

One of the arguments sometimes levied against wind farms is that they kill birds. Gory mental images of flocks of birds flying helplessly into a sort of birdie cuisinart.

Hopefully, the findings of the study below mean that idea is more myth than reality, and that we can give bit more credit to our little winged buddies: Massive Offshore Wind Turbines Safe for Birds

The gist of the article (though it’s only two pages… go on, give it a read) is that Denmark’s National Environmental Research Institute developed Thermal Animal Detection System (TADS), an infrared collision-detection system. This system was mounted on a turbine on a common flight path, and was left on around the clock, for 2400 hours. During that time, TADS “spotted only fifteen birds and bats and one moth flying near the turbine, and it recorded one collision involving a small bird or bat.”

This is significant to progress on other wind farm projects, including the offshore 130 turbine Cape Wind in the States. One of the major objections to the Cape Wind project is that it will endanger Nantucket bird life. With similar ecosystems, and many of the same bird species living in both areas, the Danish results lend support to the environmental groups in Massachusetts (including the Massachusetts Audubon Society) which have said that the project will be safe for birds.

This one study certainly doesn’t mean case-closed on determining how safe wind farms are for birds. But it is a piece of hard evidence that they are likely far safer than is often suggested.

There are still other challenges to be worked out in perfecting wind farms, off- and on-shore, including other ecological concerns. But for the time being, I’m happy to see one of the cons heading off the list.

In contrast to the questionable dangers of wind turbines, there are the known, solvable, addressable dangers to birds — like leaving our cities lit up like flares all night long. According to FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program), from 1993 through the fall of 2006, 37726 dead birds have been salvaged after colliding with windows in Toronto alone.

(image from the City of Toronto ‘Lights Out Toronto’ fall awareness campaign)

So if you’re feeling some ‘act local’ spirit, and would like to get involved by making your home, school, university, and/or place of business more bird-friendly, you can find more information here.

Tags: eco speak, news flash

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