Renewable energy can pose a threat to wildlife - but remains the best alternative

| 31st July 2018
Photograph of a wind turbine at sunset

Wind turbine

Renewable energy is necessary and under-utilised, but could harnessing some forms of wind power be causing more harm than good, asks ALYCIA GORDAN

It seems that wind turbines that provide clean energy are falsely accused as wind choppers that take substantial number of bird lives.

The limited supply and infinite use of natural fuels has created an energy crisis. Overconsumption has strained energy resources for decades. The uncontrolled soar of overpopulation has added fuel to this fire. The dated infrastructure and management have led to wastage. 

Such dire circumstances have made it paramount for us, as a community, to find a solution. We need to explore renewable energy efficiently and take advantage of its potential.

Solar power

Today, you can use solar installations and solar operations for entrepreneurial purposes as well as at home. It is low maintenance and can help reduce electricity bills.

The wide criticism of expensive installation has not deterred environment enthusiasts from embracing this natural source of renewable energy. The energy produced by solar panels for an hour can be used to supply the entire planet for a year. Yet we are only able to harness only 0.001 percent of this potential source.

A solar power farm like Ivanpah needs 5000 times more space, as compared to the Diablo Canyon solar farm, to produce a single unit of energy. But the fact is that solar is a renewable source of energy in its most sustainable form.

Is it the case then that other forms of renewable energy are more trouble than they're worth?

Endangering birds

Wind turbines in Germany may have caused extinction for a lot of individual species of birds. Offshore expansions may be a fruitful resources for the economy but rare harbour porpoises have borne the brunt of the expansion and are now endangered.

In North America, biologists have argued that migratory bat populations risk extinction if the expansion of wind farming is not controlled. Drastic reduction in the population of hoary bats has been observed. The wind facilities have annually resulted in countless fatalities of this endangered species.

California, on the other hand, has taken the lives of hundreds of desert tortoises and burned six thousand birds at Ivanpah wind facility. 4700 golden eagles are killed annually at another Californian wind farm. 59400 birds are killed in solar farms while 328000 birds are annually killed at wind facilities in the United  States of America. 

The loss and injury of rare birds and other species cannot be ignored.

It takes up to three-quarters of an hour to shut a wind turbine, which is not enough time to save birds that swoop towards the facilities. We need to be smart with our advances in renewable energy.

Aviary experts and conservationists are now openly resisting the progress of renewable energy. Celebrities, writers, social media activists and even the general population has taken it as a serious issue.

Fossil fuel-based power stations

Despite this argument though, reports highlight that wind turbines don’t pose as serious a problem for birds as climate change. The report confirms that numerous bird species including the bald eagle are at serious risk due to climate change. Forecasts reveal that they may even lose around 95 percent of their current range.

In fact, bird deaths due to wind turbines are even lower than those caused by their collisions with radio and cell towers. Statistically, wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds every year. On the other hand, cell and radio towers take the lives of 6.8 million birds annually. On top of that, cats are responsible for about 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion bird deaths.

Moreover, a 2009 study that used European and US data on bird deaths concluded that fossil fuel-based power stations kill fifteen times more birds than wind and nuclear power stations.

The study remarked that nuclear power stations and wind farms caused about 0.3-0.4 fatalities for every gigawatt-hour (GWh). On the flip side, power stations that run on fossil fuels lead to 5.2 fatalities per GWh.

Futhermore, research goes on to say that birds are able to detect the wind turbines and alter their flight course in due time to save their lives. It seems that wind turbines that provide clean energy are falsely accused as wind choppers that take substantial number of bird lives.

Take action

We can save the space that solar panels need by placing the collectors on our own rooftops. These investments today will help our future generations to have a sustainable life. Hydroelectricity and nuclear power may need a lot of funding and government intervention, but solar power is achievable.

You can switch to solar energy efficient home appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners that can help you save your hard-earned money. Solar powered lamps instead of light bulbs would be another easy step towards a better future.

Renewable energy could be causing some harm to wildlife. While large-scale facilities may be a danger to the birds, we can still take small, individually innocuous steps in the right direction to save the planet. What we nurture today is exactly what our children shall inherit tomorrow. Let's save the planet, a little at a time.

This Author

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

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