Earlier today (March 1), we hosted a webinar on the topic of wind energy and its effects on wildlife. Lynda Dewitt, Director of Communications at the Audubon Naturalist Society and longtime residential wind power customer of Clean Currents, shared her insight on the topic.
While wind turbines have indeed caused avian fatalities, the numbers are much smaller than commonly thought and are often misrepresented in comparison to the devastating effects of polluting carbon-sourced energy. Recent technological advancements have greatly reduced the number of avian deaths caused by wind turbines each year, and the numbers will continue to drop as research expands.
Already, wind power production has incorporated technological changes such as turbines that have the ability to change positions, relocate if unforeseen ecological problems arise, and reduce negative ecological effects with healthier and more efficient large offshore turbines. In fact, the National Audubon Society has come out in support of properly sited and implemented wind farms, citing air pollution, acid rain, and global warming due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations (all consequences of fossil fuel sourced electricity) as threats much graver to birds and wildlife than wind turbines.
In regards to marine wildlife and offshore turbines, most impacts to the environment are minimal. While the issue of turbine impacts still exists in the skies, the structural presence of offshore wind turbines has been widely compared to the presence of a sunken ship - acting as an artificial reef where small mari fne wildlife willlourish. The reefs have been shown to have an overall positive effect as the smaller species provide food for wildlife higher on the food chain.
As far as the presence of the wind turbines for underwater life, the biggest conflict in Europe has been economic and not ecological. Some fishermen in close proximity have seen a decrease in catch rates due to the attractiveness of these flourishing habitats and the fishermen’s inability to fish in the offshore wind area. There are also concerns regarding vibrations emitted into marine habitats by the turbines, but studies have shown that these vibrations are small and have little relative affect on marine wildlife.
Click HERE to view a fact-sheet on birds and wind power
Click HERE to view slides from today's webinar
Or click THIS LINK to view a video about how birds interact with wind turbines
While wind energy does have some negative consequences, they are minimal compared to the damaging effects of fossil fuel-based energy on wildlife and the natural environment. There is no perfect technology but wind power is on the forefront of progressively green renewable energy and Clean Currents is happy to see that it is beoming even more environmentally friendly with each passing day.