Wind energy, like all energy sources, has the potential to harm the environment by reducing, fragmenting, or degrading habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Additionally, rotating turbine blades might endanger flying fauna such as birds and bats. Because of the potential for wind power to have a negative impact on wildlife, and because these difficulties could delay or prevent wind development in high-quality wind resource areas, impact reduction, siting, and permitting issues are among the wind industry’s top goals.
WETO supports in projects that strive to describe and understand the impact of wind on wildlife on land and offshore to address these concerns and encourage environmentally sustainable growth of wind power in the United States. Furthermore, through centralized information hubs like Tethys, WETO engages in operations to collect and disseminate scientifically rigorous peer-reviewed studies on environmental consequences. The office also invests in scientific research that allows for the development of cost-effective technology to reduce wildlife impacts at both onshore and offshore wind farms.
WETO strives to foster interagency collaboration on wind energy impacts and siting research in order to ensure that taxpayer monies are used wisely to solve environmental challenges associated with wind deployment in the United States.
Listed below are a few of WETO’s investments:
- For more than 24 years, the office has supported peer-reviewed research, in part through collaborative relationships with the wind industry and environmental groups including the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.
- The NWCC was established in 1994 by the DOE’s wind office in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to investigate a wide range of issues related to wind energy development, such as transmission, power markets, and wildlife impacts. The NWCC’s focus has evolved over the last decade to addressing and disseminating high-quality information about environmental impacts and remedies.
- In May 2009, the Department of Energy’s wind office announced approximately $2 million in environmental research awards aimed at decreasing the hazards of wind power development to vital species and habitats. Researchers from Kansas State University and the NWCC’s Grassland Community Collaborative published a paper in 2013 that revealed wind development in Kansas had no significant impact on the population and reproduction of larger prairie chickens.
- The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative has been involved in numerous research projects funded by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory since its inception in 2003, including studies evaluating the impact of changing the cut-in-speed of wind turbines (the minimum wind speed at which wind turbines begin producing power) and the use of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents to reduce bat impacts at wind turbines.
- Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts.
- Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts. The Status and Findings of Developing Technologies for Bat Detection and Deterrence at Wind Facilities webinars hosted by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative provide project updates and testing findings as of March 2018.
- WETO chose six teams in 2016 to work on improving solutions that will safeguard eagles that share airspace with wind turbines. For breakthrough, vital eagle-impact minimization technology research and development projects, more nearly $3 million was allocated across the six teams. The research financed by this grant will equip wind farm owners and operators with practical and cost-effective strategies for reducing potential eagle impacts. This important study expands on the Energy Department’s efforts to facilitate wind energy deployment while also ensuring animal coexistence by addressing siting and environmental concerns. If the study is successful, it will safeguard wildlife while also giving new tools for the wind industry to reduce regulatory and financial concerns.
- WETO is a supporter of research on biological interactions with offshore wind turbines. With this funding, researchers are gathering crucial data on marine life, offshore bird and bat behavior, and other factors that influence the deployment of offshore wind turbines in the United States. The Biodiversity Research Institute and a diverse group of collaborators, for example, completed the largest ecological study ever conducted in the Mid-Atlantic to produce a detailed picture of the environment in Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas, which will aid permitting and environmental compliance for offshore wind projects.
WETO also collaborates with other federal agencies to create recommendations to help developers comply with statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements for wildlife protection, national security, and public safety. The Wind Energy Technologies Office, for example, collaborated with the Department of the Interior on the Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance.
What are the three drawbacks of wind energy?
Wind energy’s disadvantages
- Wind energy is sporadic.
- Noise and visual pollution are caused by wind energy.
- Wind turbines have several detrimental consequences on the environment.
- Wind Energy is a remote source of energy.
What are the top five drawbacks of wind energy?
Wind Energy’s Disadvantages
- Reliability of the wind.
- Wildlife Could Be Threatened by Wind Turbines.
- Noise and visual pollution may be caused by wind turbines.
- Setup costs a lot of money.
- People in Danger’s Safety
- Wind energy can only be harnessed in a few places.
What are the four drawbacks of wind power?
Wind Energy’s Benefits and Drawbacks
- 2) One of the most environmentally friendly forms of energy.
- 3) Technological advancements.
- 4) Doesn’t cause farmland operations to be disrupted.
- 5) It lessens our reliance on fossil fuels.
- 1) Some wildlife may be endangered.
- 3) Expensive Initial Investment.
Why do birds die as a result of wind turbines?
The Obama administration has issued permission for “taking (killing) bald and golden eagles” for a 30-year period. The massive birds will be lawfully slain “inadvertently” by lethal wind turbines put in their breeding grounds and “dispersion areas” where their young congregate (e.g. Altamont Pass). A current government research claims that wind farms will kill “just 1.4 million birds annually by 2030,” by chance (if you believe in coincidences). This is only one of several reports, funded by taxpayers, aimed at persuading the public that the excess mortality caused by wind farms is acceptable. It isn’t the case.
Dr. Shawn Smallwood’s four-year study in 2004 found that the Altamont Pass wind “farm” in California killed an average of 116 Golden Eagles per year. Since it was created 25 years ago, 2,900 “goldies” have died. Altamont is the largest, but not the only, sinkhole for the species, and industry-funded study stating that California’s GE population is steady is a sham.
Eagles aren’t the only ones that have suffered. Smallwood also projected that Altamont killed 300 red-tailed hawks, 333 American kestrels, and 380 burrowing owls per year, as well as 2,526 rock doves and 2,557 western meadowlarks. The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife) evaluated real carcass counts from 136 surveillance surveys in 2012, breaking the European omerta on wind farm death.
According to their findings, Spain’s 18,000 wind turbines kill 6-18 million birds and bats each year. Extrapolating from that and similar (under-publicized) German and Swedish research, 39,000 US wind turbines would kill “just 440,000 birds (USFWS, 2009)” or “only 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats (Smallwood, 2013), but 13-39 million birds and bats each year! Self-serving and/or politically motivated government agencies, wind industry lobbyists, environmental groups, and ornithologists, on the other hand, are covering up the devastation with a slew of bogus studies paid for with more taxpayer money.
Even though modern monster turbines launch 80 percent of bird and bat carcasses much further, wildlife expert Jim Wiegand has demonstrated how regions explored under wind turbines are still constrained to 200-foot radiuses. Windfarm operators, following voluntary (!) USFWS standards, commission studies that explore far too narrow regions, examine just once every 30-90 days, assuring that scavengers destroy most carcasses, and ignore wounded birds located within search perimeters.
These research techniques are intended to ensure exceptionally low mortality rates, concealing the true death tolls, and the USFWS is willing to maintain the deceit. Furthermore, data on bird fatality is now considered the property of wind farm owners, implying that the public has no right to know. Regardless, reports have surfaced that eagles are being hacked to death across the United States. Raptors are drawn to wind turbines, so this isn’t surprising. They rest or scan for prey when perched atop them. They come because wind turbines are frequently erected in environments with plenty of food (live or carrion) and strong gliding winds.
Save the Eagles International (STEI) has released images of raptors sitting on nacelles or stationary blades, as well as ospreys establishing a nest on a decommissioned turbine. A turkey vulture perched on the hub of a spinning turbine and a griffon vulture being injured in films prove that moving blades do not deter them. Birds mistake areas traveled by spinning blades for wide space, oblivious to the fact that blade tips can travel at speeds of up to 180 mph. Many people are preoccupied with catching prey. Wind turbines are “ecological death traps” because of these reasons, regardless of where they are positioned.
The United States intends to generate 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030. That’s approximately six times as much as today, from three or four times as many turbines, which, due to their larger size, strike more flying species (even the mendacious study predicting 1.4 million bird kills recognizes this). By 2030, our wind turbines would be killing over 3 million birds and 5 million bats annually, according to the higher but still underestimated estimates of death released by Smallwood in 2013.
However, this is a factor of ten off from reality, because 90% of casualties occur beyond the search zone and are not counted. As a result, we’re talking about an unsustainable death toll of 30 million birds and 50 million bats every year, with much more if we factor in other STEI-documented hide-the-mortality schemes. Eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, condors, whooping cranes, geese, bats, and other protected species are among those killed by cars and cats. Rodent numbers will skyrocket as a result of the raptor slaughter. Agriculture and forestry will be hurt hard by the slaughter of bats, who are already being destroyed by White Nose Syndrome.
According to the US Geological Survey, the value of pest-control services offered by bats to US agriculture ranges from $3.7 billion to $53 billion per year. These chiroptera also function as pollinators and fight forest pests. Insects that swarm around wind turbines attract them from as far as nine miles away, according to a Swedish research. As a result, the bloodbath. Wind industry lobbyists argue that they require “regulatory clarity.” Eagle “take permits, on the other hand, will almost certainly result in extinction as well as ecological, agricultural, economic, social, and health crises that we cannot afford.
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What are the two most common criticisms of wind turbines?
Opponents of Iowa’s expanding number of wind turbines believe the towering towers’ sound and flash harm their health, but researchers say there’s little scientific evidence to back up those allegations.
Three Iowa groups published a paper on Thursday that looked at literature on the public health impact of wind turbines and found little evidence that they are harming neighbors.
Neighbors claim that the spinning blades induce headaches, nausea, and other health issues. Critics also object to the rotor noise as well as low-frequency “infra-sound.”
As Iowa utilities have swiftly accepted wind energy, the debate over wind turbines has risen. Wind generates 37 percent of the state’s electricity, the highest share in the country.
Quiz: What are the drawbacks of wind power?
- The wind does not always blow at the same speed. There will be instances when they do not generate any electricity.
- Windmills are quite expensive to construct.
- Wind turbines make a lot of noise. Each one is capable of producing the same amount of noise as a family car traveling at 70 miles per hour.
Is there anyone who has died as a result of a wind turbine?
After blade failure, fire in wind turbines is the second most common form of accident reported. While some models of wind turbines have a larger danger of fire than others, all wind turbines contain fire risk elements. Highly flammable materials, including as hydraulic oil and polymers, are stored near electrical cables and equipment within the nacelle. If there is an ignition source, such as an electrical arc or a fault within the transformer, a fire can quickly start and spread. Fires in turbines are less common than in other energy industries, but the financial consequences are significant, costing upwards of $4.5 million. In this article, we’ll look at five different wind turbine fires.
#1 San Gorgonio Pass
The View Fire, which started in June 2012 in the Whitewater area east of Cabazon in Riverside County, California, was caused by a wind turbine fire. Despite efforts such as cleaning grass and debris from the turbines’ bases, the turbine fire ignited a wildfire that burned 367 acres. Authorities were alerted when many witnesses reported the fire, and residents in the box canyon were evacuated. Over 100 firemen fought the fire on the ground and from planes to get it under control in less than 24 hours. There were no injuries or structural damage reported.
#2 Piet de Wit Wind Farm
There had never been a human death as a result of a wind turbine fire before 2013. On Tuesday, October 29, 2013, it all changed when two of the four mechanics working on a wind turbine in Ooltgensplaat, Netherlands, were killed. A fire trapped the mechanics, aged 19 and 21, on the top of the turbine, and they killed as a result. The fire service had difficulty extinguishing the fire due to the height of the turbine and its position. To tackle the fire, a professional team of firefighters was dispatched with a big crane, which took many hours. One mechanic was discovered on the ground near the turbine’s base, while the second victim was recovered by the specialized crew from the turbine’s top. The other two mechanics were able to get away without harm. The fire was caused by a short circuit, according to Deltawind.
#3 Harvest Wind II
A wind turbine caught fire in Oliver Township, near the community of Elkton, in Michigan’s Thumb-region, on Monday, April 1, 2019. Because they lacked the equipment to reach the height of the wind turbine, the attending fire brigade was unable to put out the fire. They also had limited access to the location because the on-fire turbine was about a half-mile off the main road. However, as the turbine was burning out, first responders were able to set up a perimeter and secure the area. Exelon, the wind farm’s owner, also turned off the power to the other 32 turbines on the property as a precaution. Since November 2012, the Harvest II Wind Project has been active. Over the last 10 years, two other wind turbine fires have been reported at different wind farms throughout Michigan.
#4 Juniper Canyon
On Saturday, July 19, 2019, melted pieces of a wind turbine caught fire in southern Washington state, igniting the surrounding grass and bush. The fire grew, resulting in the Juniper Fire, which burned over 250 acres and threatened 39 houses. The Pine Creek Drainage region was placed under a level three evacuation order during the wildfire. Nearly 200 people were involved in the firefighting effort, according to officials. Twenty-five fire units, two dozers, and two engines, as well as two strike teams and three hand crews, were dispatched across Klickitat County. On day three, the fire was 99 percent extinguished, with no injuries or structural damage reported. The wind farm is divided into two parts, each having 128 turbines.
#5 Buffalo Gap
The Rhodes Ranch 3 Fire in Mulberry Canyon is being blamed on a wind turbine fire near Abilene, Texas. On Monday, August 26, 2019, a wind turbine caught fire, sparking a wildfire that scorched 250 acres. To construct containment lines, bulldozers and graders were brought in. Firefighters had added obstacles due to the rough terrain, record temperatures of 109 degrees, and the fire’s growth into a tiny canyon area. A fire truck and a single-engine plane dispersed fire retardant, while a helicopter dropped water on hot spots. Firefighters scoured the area for hot spots and kept an eye on the containment lines. The fire was 90 percent extinguished in two days. The turbine was declared completely destroyed.
Because of the height of the wind turbines, the distant locations, and in some cases, the rugged terrain, the chances of a fire brigade being able to put out a wind turbine fire are slim. The only alternative during these fires is to let the turbine burn out on its own. On the other side, there are actions that can be taken to prevent this. Automatic fire suppression devices installed near probable ignition sources or fire-prone locations and components within the wind turbine will detect and suppress a fire before it spreads out of control.