Wind Turbines better for birds than oil and gas wells.
As the demand for clean energy grows, wind power has become a crucial player in the shift towards a more sustainable future. However, concerns about the impact of wind turbines on bird populations have been a point of contention. In a recent analysis of American data published in Environmental Science & Technology, Erik Katovich, an economist at the University of Geneva, provides insights that challenge the prevailing narrative.
Over the past two decades, wind power has experienced significant growth in the United States, expanding from 2.6 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2000 to an impressive 122 gigawatts in 2020 an increase of almost 120 gigawatts over 20 years. This expansion has triggered discussions about potential harm to bird populations due to the wind turbines spinning blades, which can reach speeds of over 200km per hour at the blade tip.
Dr. Katovich's groundbreaking analysis, utilizing the Christmas Bird Count (a citizen-science project run by the National Audubon Society) provides a comprehensive examination of the impact of wind turbines on bird populations. Contrary to expectations, his findings reveal that the installation of wind turbines had no discernible effect on bird populations, even when focusing on larger birds such as hawks, vultures, and eagles.
To offer a well-rounded perspective, Dr. Katovich didn't limit his analysis to wind power alone. He also explored the effects of oil-and-gas extraction, a sector that has experienced a boom in the United States over the same period. Surprisingly, the study uncovered a 15% average drop in bird numbers when new gas wells were drilled, highlighting the environmental impact of fossil fuel extraction.
While wind turbines might appear imposing, the study indicates that they are significantly less damaging to wildlife compared to traditional fossil fuel extraction methods. The analysis found a disproportionate focus on negative stories about wind turbines' supposed effects on birds in major American news outlets, with 173 stories in 2020, compared to only 46 stories discussing the effects of oil-and-gas wells.
Our Anorra tower also have characteristics to help minimize birds from flying into the blades. Our Anorra turbine blades are black as opposed to the usual white blades on the utility sized turbines. This makes it easier for birds flying nearby to see the blades and avoid them. Upon customer’s request, a swirl pattern can be added to the noise cone and vertical white bars can be added to the tip of the black blade. The end goal is to increase blade visibility for the birds.
As we strive towards a cleaner and greener future, it's essential to base our judgments on solid evidence. Dr. Katovich's analysis sheds light on the minimal impact of wind turbines on bird populations, emphasizing the importance of sustainable energy sources like microgeneration wind turbines for eco-conscious consumers. By making informed choices, we can contribute to a world where clean energy and wildlife conservation go hand in hand.