Wind Turbines & Wildlife

In recent years, there has been a global shift towards renewable energy sources in a bid to address climate change. While these clean energy sources should certainly be embraced, it is essential to consider and address the drawbacks. Wind energy is a good example, as it is an excellent form of renewable energy, but there are growing concerns about the impact of turbines on local wildlife.

Wind Turbines & Wildlife

This post will investigate the impact of wind energy on local wildlife and the efforts taken to minimize these effects. 

The Impact on Local Wildlife

While wind farms can help to protect the planet, they can also have deadly consequences for local wildlife. The building of wind farms can lead to displacement from feeding and nesting areas and habitat degradation. In addition, direct collusion deaths can be an issue with birds and bats. A study found that wind farms kill between 140,000 and 320,000 birds in the US annually, so it is clear that action needs to be taken to address this. 

Species Vulnerability & Behaviour

Birds and bats are vulnerable for a few reasons. Many species of birds migrate at night in low altitudes and can be attracted to the light of wind turbines. Bats, meanwhile, can mistake turbines for tall trees, which can lead to fatal collisions. Additionally, birds and bats are often attracted to wind farms as they are usually set up in their natural habitats, including open fields and coastlines. In the US, bald eagles are a good example of this. Many bald eagles have been killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, a region that this species uses as a natural habitat. 

Mitigation Measures

So, what can be done to protect wildlife while still ensuring that wind farms can be used to create clean energy? Careful site selection is hugely important, and another effective strategy is shutting down turbines during critical times (during migratory periods). Some technologies can be used to detect and deter birds and bats with vibration sensors, such as ultrasonic acoustic deterrents (UADs). UADs emit a high-frequency sound that will deter birds and bats from flying in the area, which should prevent collisions.

Regulatory & Legal Framework

Numerous regulations and laws are in place to protect wildlife from wind energy development. These include the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy. The enforcement of these legal frameworks can be difficult, and many state that the penalties are insufficient. There are ongoing legal developments, including Habitat Conservation Plans, which are plans that establish how the impact on wildlife will be minimized.

Renewable energy should be embraced and is a positive change, but it is crucial to consider the potential drawbacks, especially when it comes to the impact on local wildlife.