Thursday, January 04, 2007


The limits of wind

There are many reasons to develop alternative energy generation: it may reduce pollution, help to reduce dependence on foreign oil and the wars that entails, and right the balance of payments. But, as with anything, there can be too much of a good thing. Scotland develops wind as alternative energy Scotland generates about 16% of its total energy from renewable sources - its goal is to reach 18% by 2010 and 40% by 2020 - while the UK as a whole lags behind on a paltry 4%.... A 2004 report identified planning problems, poor access to the national grid from wind schemes and public opposition to onshore wind farms as real obstacles to growth. Two years on, these problems are more pressing now that a range of factors, such as higher steel prices, are making offshore wind projects less commercially viable than anticipated and with alternatives like wave power still in their infancy. The pressure is on onshore wind farms to deliver - and one operator says conditions in the industry are increasingly "challenging".... Gillian Wilson, chair of the Amulree and Strathbraan Windfarm Action Group, set up in 2004 to oppose two proposed wind farms sited within miles of each other in Perthshire. "...I don't think the public appreciate the destruction caused by the construction of a wind farm..."[she said]. "You have a tiny rural community up against government policy and huge companies with limitless resources," she says of the recent public enquiry held into the plans. "I don't think the public appreciate the destruction caused by the construction of a wind farm. You are turning a rural landscape into an industrial one." Her fellow campaigners speak passionately about potential noise disruption, threats to water supplies and the impact on local roads but reject claims of self-interest. Wind is a great energy source. Scotland, however, will need to provide leadership in showing the rest of the world how it's done, and done right.
Wind is a great energy source -- with a great cost. Wind farms can be deadly to birds, and usually very little is done to design the windrows in a way that would prevent the slaughter.
I've always wondered why windmill blades were never painted, say, a bright red or green, rather than a white that all too readily is mistaken for a cloud or open sky.

Just goes to show the truth of John Muir's statement about things being interconnected. One cannot change things in isolation; actions have consequences that need to be taken into account.
The Altamont wind farm must be incredibly poorly sited. The Royal Societyfor the Protection of Birds is very pro-wind farm, though they state:

Wind farms must be located away from narrow bird migration routes and important feeding, breeding and
roosting areas. They must not be permitted where they would have adverse impacts on nationally and
internationally protected wildlife sites.
The available evidence suggests that, if these guidelines are followed (and we describe below our
efforts to ensure that they are), wind farms do not pose a significant problem for birds. In the UK, we have not so far witnessed any major adverse effects on birds associated with wind farms.

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