Italy's birds-of-prey being lost to wind farms
In Italy, sprawling prop-style wind turbine ‘farms’ are sprouting up in ever-increasing numbers and, as they do, the death toll soars for thousands upon thousands of birds of prey.
As concern about climate change and sustainable, eco-friendly alternative energy grows, it‘s surprising that an industry with so much potential – the wind industry – is under fire from environmental groups worldwide.
”Wind farm building continues unchecked and within a few years we will witness the almost total disappearance from the Apennine mountains and from Sicily of the Golden Eagle, the Bonelli`s Eagle, the Griffon Vulture, the Red Kite and many others,” farmers' organization Coldiretti and national environmental organizations said in a recent report in Life In Italy.com.
The biggest problem is the design of the turbines, which use huge spinning blades that eagles, kites and bats can’t focus on or navigate through. With so many of these towers in existence, many right in the flyways of threatened species, the result is a massacre. Even a glancing blow will decapitate a vulture, sever the wings from kites, or shear eagles in half.
The body count is alarming.
“Coldiretti warned that wind farms have increased by 35% in the last year, with more than 3,600 towers transforming around 10,000 km of land into a 'desert' as long as a motorway.
“The organization called for urgent guidelines on wind power, warning that the current “indiscriminate spread” did not take note of the impact on the landscape nor on economic activities such as tourism and farming.
“Investment in wind power was increasing in a way that was “unbalanced compared to other forms of renewable energy,” it said.
In the UK, a major manufacturer of such lethal machines (Vestas UK), is about to close, while well-meaning employees and environmentalists fight to save it.
Although employees absolutely need their jobs, and environmentalists are right in wanting to support a ‘green’ energy manufacturer, this particular design is not the answer. It’s is not about throwing out the whole industry, but using the correct technology.
A much safer and more efficient alternative to those guillotine-like propeller turbines which mangle wildlife, the vertical shaft turbine, is already available. Producing twice the energy, they have a smaller profile and no spinning blades. Birds and bats are not at risk with this design.
So why aren’t vertical-shaft turbines the industry norm?
The biggest obstacle to switching to this superior technology is greed. There is a lot of money at stake for the manufacturers of the archaic and lethal prop-style turbines. When there are large investments involved, business people can turn a blind eye to ethical or moral considerations.
A comment left by bookbuck2000 sums it up: “[A]s a person who worked for the wind industry: The avian issue is not overblown, it is in fact hidden. One of the jobs I had was to pick up the dead birds and such from around the turbine. There was no reporting and there was no talking. Besides the avian issue I believe there [are] also issues with travel routes of deer, turkey and many other forms of wildlife. As an electrical engineer with nearly 30 years of experience in generation, transmission and distribution I can say with no hesitation wind turbines are the poorest choice for electricity producers.”
Quoting Jim Wiegand (personal email), “I remember when DDT was banned in 1972. This corrupt industry was still allowed to produce and sell this poison to Mexico and other countries for another 10 years. With the Prop Turbines we are dealing with the same corrupt components.
“For the record, I actually think there is a great future and great promise in wind energy but never with the prop turbine design. This is because all prop turbines are inherently flawed in their design and an inefficient use of wind energy. Look into the physics and engineering involved with any institution of higher learning that [is] not subject to wind industry grants.
He goes on to say, “Recently much was made about the rigged elections in Iran. Yet the people of this country have been steamrolled over by a corrupt Wind Industry. We have been lied to for decades, there is corrupt testimony, corrupt experts are paraded around in front [of] officials, political figures and judges have enabled them, wildlife and environmental laws are being smashed and circumvented. All while the media looks the other way. Mainstream media has contributed to this fraud because they know about it and they are not covering this. One might ask,” Why does the news media look the other way while the wind industry is concealing astounding bird mortality figures caused by prop turbines?” The answer lies in their silence, they are either making millions off the green energy ads showing these prop turbines to ignorant viewers or are they are owned by the industry. In the meantime virtually every fragile ecosystem on the planet is being invaded by these guys. The news media may never tell the truth but this wind industry fraud is spreading across the world via the internet.
“There is so much money behind the wind industry that they could actually buy out every manufacturer and every patent on every vertical shaft turbine design to protect the prop turbine industry. They could then sit on it all for decades. It is wrong but perfectly legal in this society. Would that be best for our country, our environment, or this planet? The Auto industry used this approach and look at the mess they are in. This is how big business operates in this country and this is why President Obama and other leaders have to get involved. Does the President really want the highest possible addition to this country’s power grid from wind or will he chose the highest possible profits for Wall Street. Do we really have a democracy or do we really just have an investor oriented capitalistic system of government. A democracy would send these guys packing.”
To get this huge ship to change course will be tough, but it’s a worthwhile battle. Our best option is public outcry and to support the new vertical shaft turbine design.
Then we’ll have a win-win situation everyone can be happy about.