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Friday, November 15, 2013

our winged "externalities" and sudden sympathy for...

"No form of energy will ever be immune from environmental consequences. Coal dirties our air, natural gas poisons our water, nuclear generates unmanageable waste. But renewable energy technologies also have environmental externalities, and these are often minimized during the permitting process for these facilities. While concerns about avian mortality were raised during the permitting process for Genesis, Desert Sunlight, and Ivanpah, these were largely swept under the rug and written off as incidental. The evidence is proving otherwise: avian deaths at big solar plants are not incidental but institutional, a part of the operating plan of these facilities. Future big solar plants in the desert should be permitted with this in mind, and suitable precautions should be taken to minimize these fatalities."

"To most experts, though, there's a problem with the bird-mortality argument: The vast majority of research shows that wind turbines kill relatively few birds, at least compared with other man-made structures. The statistics are shocking if you consider just how many people are crying out against wind power for the birds' sake:
Man-made structure/technology
Associated bird deaths per year (U.S.)
Feral and domestic cats
Hundreds of millions [source: AWEA]
Power lines
130 million -- 174 million [source: AWEA]
Windows (residential and commercial)
100 million -- 1 billion [source: TreeHugger]
70 million [source: AWEA]
60 million -- 80 million [source: AWEA]
Lighted communication towers
40 million -- 50 million [source: AWEA]
Wind turbines
10,000 -- 40,000 [source: ABC]

Collisions with wind turbines account for about one-tenth of a percent of all "unnatural" bird deaths in the United States each year. And of all bird deaths, 30 percent are due to natural causes, like baby birds falling from nests [source: AWEA]. So why the widespread misconception that labels wind turbines "bird-o-matics"? I­t all starts with California, raptors and the thousands of old turbines that make up the Altamont Pass wind farm. "