Wind Energy: Killing Migratory Birds?

New Model: Not a Bird Killer

Wind turbines are, from the standpoint of energy,  renewable which means there is not an exhaustible supply and very much non-polluting unlike fossil fuels.  Furthermore, there is plenty of wind throughout much of the U.S..  Yet, wind energy, like any source, has its drawbacks.  One of the main worries or concerns about wind energy involves whether it kills birds.  After all, birds are very much part of the ecosystem and food chain and if these turbines do kill them, then that is a bad thing despite its green benefits.

Wind energy, therefore, is one of those sources that can be great in terms of helping the environment by providing clean, green energy.  Yet, individuals should give pause with bird mortality issues, as they are not a hollow or unfounded concern.  In fact, bird mortality issues can best be illustrated by  “Recent U.S. studies indicate that bird mortality at wind turbine projects varies from less than one birds/per turbine/year to as high as 7.5 birds/per turbine/year. The latter fatality rate was at Buffalo Mountain, TN, where three turbines are in use.”  As such, while no energy system is perfect, the fact that there could be a high bird mortality rate from birds flying into the turbines is not an unfounded concern.

Right now, wind energy is a renewable energy choice that can potentially help displace fossil fuels for energy use.  As such, learning that bird mortality is an issue should be taken into account with the design and placement of wind turbines especially since they are becoming increasingly popular.  However, it appears there may be a solution to the problems associated with birds flying into wind turbines.  In fact, FPL Energy highlights how “many of the turbines (are), some decades old, use older designs, with faster-spinning blades that reach closer to the ground than recent models --where birds are more likely to be flying as they hunt for prey. FPL and its partners are replacing some turbines with newer ones that the company says are safer for birds.”

Thus, the wind turbine issue in terms of birds flying into the blades and dying may be resolved by the fact that such turbines will be newer in the coming years.  As a result, these turbines will in all likelihood not be like the older designs that have "faster-spinning blades" that are in the direction of bird flight.  In essence, wind energy at least the older models, are killing migratory birds, but that problem can be easily remedied with newer turbines that are getting installed.  Consequently, the problem of wind energy killing migratory birds may be a thing of the past once these newer turbines are installed.

Photo Credit: detect-inc