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Wind turbines – where endangered birds go to die

Investigate Daily (NZ) — September 25, 2013

TURBINES OF DEATH

SUB: how wind farms slaughter native wildlife, and worsen our health

WORDS BY MELISSA WISHART

With a healthy environment at the forefront of everybody’s minds lately, New Zealand is jumping headfirst into wind energy as a supposedly “clean, green” alternative to the current array of ways to generate electricity.

On the surface, it seems ideal. Wind is clean, free and renewable, and is described by the New Zealand Wind Energy Association to be “crucial to New Zealand’s energy future” – but are we looking at it through rose tinted glasses?

Wind farms are being hailed as the eco-friendly power source set to take the country by storm. In reality, while we may be protecting the earth from allegedly harmful toxins and gases, could the wildlife, and perhaps even the public, be suffering?

Wind turbines, while not burning any fuel or emitting any gases into the atmosphere, are an unreliable and expensive energy source. For example, Meridian had planned to construct a 52-turbine wind farm in the Moawhango Ecological District, an area which its own engineering experts admitted would have a capacity factor of only 36%, according to the Rangitikei Guardians, a group set up to oppose industrial wind schemes and educate the public on the impact. Furthermore, wind turbines also pose a serious threat to native New Zealand bird species, as well as our dwindling population of bats through the risk of collisions, habitat loss, and internal damage from changes in air pressure.

Research on bird strike at wind farms in New Zealand is pitifully minimal, and while companies looking to build wind farms are required to evaluate the area they wish to build in to see how it will affect the wildlife, proper studies into how many birds and bats are killed by them have not been done.

International studies, however, paint a worrying picture.

In Spain, the Spanish Ornithological society estimates that up to a shocking 18 million birds are killed annually by the country’s 18,000 turbines. Marc Bechard, an American biologist, told Nature “A blade will cut a griffon vulture in half”.

New Zealand power companies say nearly 500 wind turbines are currently operational, with more under construction. If a million birds are being killed by every thousand wind turbines in Spain, it can be estimated then that New Zealand wind turbines may be killing 200,000 to half a million birds annually.

A Wisconsin University study notes that while the turbine blades appear to be moving deceptively slowly, at the tips the speed can reach up to 280km/h. Many birds die from direct collision with turbine blades, as well as other parts of the turbine such as towers or nacelles- the ballast units behind the blades. It isn’t clear why this happens, but the general belief is that the motion smear from the movement of the blades is too fast for the birds to pick up. It has also been suggested that some birds are unable to divide their attention between hunting prey and scanning the horizon, meaning they do not realise they are flying straight towards an obstacle.  Read full article, here…..

golden eagle

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3 Comments on “Wind turbines – where endangered birds go to die”

  1. 1957chev September 25, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Why aren’t we monitoring the offending turbines with 24 hr. surveillance cameras with infrared, and a zoom lens. That would give an accurate count of bird and bat kills, as well as showing the difference between the number of kills reported, vs the actual number of deaths. Many people have homes and buildings which are close to turbines. Let’s let this work in our favour, by using these homes as the place to set up surveillance. I know you will have many volunteers. I am already working on starting this in my community.

  2. 1957chev September 25, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Reblogged this on Mothers Against Wind Turbines and commented:
    24 hr. monitoring with zoom lens and infrared will give accurate numbers of bird and bat deaths!

  3. cornwallwindwatch September 25, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

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