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Wind farms' devastating effect

In this period of intense debates about climate change and energy use, wind farms are seen to be of great merit: quiet, clean and energy efficient. But are they?

Already, large wind farm complexes have been instated in western countries and the first substantial research results are quite disturbing.

Apparently, there have been accidents that caused forests fires, erosion, pollution (oil leaks) and affected water quality.

Wind farms also have a devastating effect on wildlife, particularly on birds and bats. In five years, wind turbines at Altamont Pass in California killed 2,300 eagles and many other avian species.

It has been suggested that wind turbines will wipe out Scottish eagles and an eerie statistic predicts that grand-scale wind farms may kill up to 500,000 birds a year in Europe alone.

Why, one may wonder?

Migrating birds often travel at night and apparently do not avoid or see the propellers. Birds of prey seem to be curious and actually approach the turbines, only to get killed.

Wind turbines are thus controversial. It appears that we need a good deal of thought to go into the development of alternative energy in Australia to avoid outcomes worse than the problems they aim to solve.

Gisela Kaplan

The Australian

19 December 2007