PARQUES EÓLICOS - ESTADÍSTICAS INDUDABLES DE MORTANDAD DE AVES
LA VERDAD SIGUE SIENDO ENCUBIERTA POR LOS AGENTES QUE TENGAN ALGÚN INTERÉS EN HACERLO - Y SON MUCHOS.
La mortandad de aves causada por la energía eólica es un asunto caliente, del cual dependen subvenciones sumando millares de millones de euros y dólares. De tanto dinero una parte sirve para desinformar al público. - Así los promotores consiguen instalar sus letales aerogeneradores en reservas naturales y rutas de migración. El resultado será desastroso para la biodiversidad.
NOTA: EL TEXTO ESTÁ EN INGLÉS, PERO SE ESTÁ TRADUCIÉNDOLO AL CASTELLANO. ESPERO QUE SEA LISTO A FINALES DE NOVIEMBRE 2005 (se ofreció una persona para hacerlo sin remuneración).
MIENTRÁS TANTO SE PUEDE TRADUCIR USANDO WWW.GOOGLE.ES, Y PINCHANDO "HERRAMIENTAS DEL IDIOMA".
Above: short-toed eagle killed by a wind turbine in Navarre, Spain - courtesy of GURELUR (www.gurelur.org).
Large wind turbines being built today have a "swept area" the size of a football field. Their arms reach high in the sky, affecting birds that used to fly beyond reach of older models. The rotors appear to turn slowly, but the blades travel at 150 to 300 Km/h at the tip, surprising the birds.
They are deadly to anything that flies, including birds, bats, and insects.
In Cordelia, California, a single turbine erected in a low avian activity area was estimated to have killed 54 birds in one year (11). This invalidates the idea that turbines having ample space between them will cause insignificant mortality (an argument presented by the promoters of the Chautauqua project in New York State, for instance).
The Cordelia results also fly in the face of the contention that American windfarms have lower birdkill rates than European ones.
Because of scavengers, searches for dead birds and bats are often unsuccessful. This is because they occur at intervals ranging from twice a week to once every 3 months, which leaves plenty of time for coyotes, foxes, and other animals to take away the remains.
In the Cordelia study, "dead bird searches were conducted five days a week during nocturnal migration monitoring and once a week thereafter." Daily searches, and a single turbine to look after: these could be the reasons for the relative efficiency of that particular mortality survey.
Except for certain species, like diurnal raptors, most casualties occur at night. So it is important to conduct the search at dawn, before scavengers find the bodies with their acute sense of smell. But it is clear that if one or two field workers must search an entire windfarm, or even half of it, the portion they will be able to cover at dawn will be tiny.
And ideally, in the case of diurnal raptors, two searches a day should be performed: in the late morning, and before sunset.
In view of this, there is an easy recipe for finding a low mortality rate at any windfarm:
1) An insufficient budget, limiting the number of searches to an inadequate frequency.
2) An excessive number of turbines to cover, and an inadequate number of searchers.
3) Poorly planned and inadequately performed scavenger-removal and searcher-efficiency tests.
4) In addition, the windfarm employee could be asked to remove the most visible and embarrassing evidence, like dead eagles, geese, storks etc. - especially before monitoring visits by ornithologists.
Bird mortality at windfarms is a burning subject. The stakes are high for this multi-billion dollar industry, and for the reputation of the NGO´s that support it. As initial studies evidenced alarming levels of mortality, much money is now being spent by windfarm promoters on monitoring studies. The aim is to convince the public that bird populations are not being affected in a "significant" manner. And this may be achieved following the above recipe - with or without the fourth ingredient.
"He who pays the piper calls the tune". In this case, the promoter.
As a result, inadequate studies are now the rule. This includes avian impact assessments, which are conducted before windfarms are built. These are sometimes voluminous and obfuscating, sometimes short and to the point, but mendacious always, minimizing the avian impact. And they serve the purpose that was assigned to them: permit the erection of windfarms where the promoters want them - like Smola island, Norway, sanctuary of the white-tailed sea eagle; Beinn an Tuirc, Scotland, on the home range of a breeding pair of golden eagles; Edinbane and Ben Aketil, Scotland, on ridges where young eagles from two different species come to soar daily.
Such widespread use of pseudo-science and misleading conclusions renders precious the few reports that do not attempt to minimize survey results and mortality estimates. They are briefly summarized in this paper.
PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS ON AVIAN MORTALITY:
Large turbines of the latest technology may have blades that rotate more slowly than those of older types; but they are much longer - 35 to 50 meters - and sweep much larger areas. They also reach higher in the sky, up to 125 meters high, affecting more species of birds and bats.
Furthermore, in spite of their slower rotation, speed at the tip is very high. Their increased length accounts for that. To give an example: General Electric model 1.5S has a rotor 70.5-meter-wide (diameter), and a generating rotor-speed varying between 11 and 22 rpm (2).
It is simple to calculate the tip-speed from this data:
70.5 meters x 3.14 (π R2) = 221.37meters circumference x 11rpm = 2,435meters per minute x 60 minutes = 146 kph
At 22 rpm (revolutions per minute), the tips go twice as fast:
70.5 meters x 3.14 (π R2) = 221.37meters circumference x 22rpm = 4,870meters per minute x 60 minutes = 292 kph
And 3 MW turbines have 50-meter long blades (instead of 35 in the above example) that reach even higher speeds at the tip: 358 kph . See footnote Nº 2 at this link: Giant windfarm in a bird sanctuary - Impact on bird mortality to be severe.
Superior as we are to birds intelligence-wise, we are surprised to learn of such high speeds: the rotors appear to turn so slowly! So it is little wonder that they would fool the birds as well, and not be perceived as a danger. Proof of this are the 2,000 golden eagles killed over 20 years in California alone, along with 10,000 other raptors (see: 1) Altamont Pass below).
Besides, it is a known fact that intelligent animals like dogs can easily misjudge the time needed to cross the road safely. And the higher the speed of approaching cars, the greater the chances of miscalculation.
As a matter of fact, children, and even grown men, happen to err in their appreciation of speed and distances. Many accidents on our roads attest to the fact. And there is an aggravating factor: unlike cars, turbine blades travel on an orbit. Birds crossing the swept area would not always see them coming.
In any event, if a sparrow cannot get out of the way of a car travelling at 120 km/h, how could a stork evade a giant blade moving at 300 km/h?
Hired consultants often claim that the birds can avoid the blades - The statistics below prove otherwise.
Above picture: griffon vultures as found in a windfarm in Navarra, Spain. Courtesy of: GURELUR (www.gurelur.org).
BIRD MORTALITY ESTIMATES FROM EARLIER REPORTS.
1) Altamont Pass.
Several studies evidenced an on-going massacre at this very large windfarm near San Francisco. In 2002 ornithologist Grainger Hunt estimated, very roughly, that golden eagles were being killed at the rate of 40 to 60 per annum (3).
This was quite conservative - as shown in my critique of his report (23) . An in-depth study, performed by Dr. Smallwood more recently, puts the golden eagle mortality rate at 116 per annum, once adjusted for detection and scavenging (24).
Being a rich hunting ground free of territorial adults, Altamont attracts young eagles from all over California, and beyond. Dead eagles are replaced by the newcomers, who get killed in turn. The windfarm acts as a black hole, a population sink for eagles in the Western United States.
At the estimated rate of 116 per year, in excess of 2,000 eagles would have been killed by the turbines over 20 years.
And Dr. Smallwood has denied that this is exceptional, or an effect of the old lattice-tower turbines: bigger, tubular-tower models kill even more birds, including protected raptors (25). The mortality risk is the same at other windfarms. It is just that population abundance is greater at Altamont (26).
This is corroborated by the study made by Dr. Lekuona, at the request of the Navarre government, Spain: in one year, 368 tubular-tower turbines killed 7,105 birds, including 409 griffon vultures and 24 other protected raptors: golden eagles, eagle owls, booted eagles, sparrow hawks and kestrels - see section 4 below.
Regarding other raptors, Altamont takes a heavy toll as well: c. 500 yearly: hawks, owls, falcons, harriers, kites etc. (4). Cumulatively, that´s 10,000 "protected" raptors over 20 years - "at least", says Dr. Smallwood.
Other victims include doves, larks, ducks, blackbirds, gulls, swallows, herons, ravens, passerines, and bats (5).
2) Strait of Gibraltar.
In 1995, SEO/Birdlife (6) evidenced that 14 species enjoying protected status were being killed at two windfarms in Tarifa. Short-toed eagles, griffon vultures, eagle owls, kestrels, kites, egrets are included in the list.
Yet, "The scarce effect of both windfarms studied on migration of soaring birds in 1994 is attributed to the fact that, although most birds have followed routes very near the windfarms, the location of the turbines are such that they do not interfere with these routes" (6)
So, in spite of being located off the migration corridor, these two windfarms kill migrating as well as local birds. How many? This remains undetermined for sure, because the report was trying to minimize the results. In an earlier analysis, I tried to expose this lack of objectivity:
"Here, the actual body count was: 65 large or medium-size birds for 34% of the 256 turbines surveyed "generally twice a week", and 54% of the tension lines surveyed once a week. Two short-toed eagles were among them, as well as 30 griffon vultures, 15 kestrels (3 of them on the endangered list), 2 eagle owls, 1 black kite, 1 "unidentified raptor" (it could be an endangered imperial eagle, for all we know) and one egret. Based on this, the summary estimates total mortality to be: 89 large and medium size birds – whereas a weighted extrapolation from 64 bodies on 34% of the windfarm area, and 1 on 54% of the tension lines area, would yield 190 bird carcasses for 100% of the area.
So, in effect, we are asked to believe that the estimated mortality is less than half the estimated body count." (7)
Other irregularities included the fact that, although small bird mortality was not surveyed, it was easy for the superficial reader to think all birds were included. Another was that scavenger and searcher-efficiency factors were only applied to kestrels (7).
But in spite of under-valuating bird mortality at the Strait of Gibraltar, the SEO report did create waves in the ornithological community. After Altamont Pass, it had evidenced that windfarms were particularly dangerous for raptors.
However, the wind industry, and accommodating bird societies, decided to treat the Altamont and Tarifa examples as "exceptions". They still do, in spite of the rest of the evidence below, which is simply ignored.
3) San Gorgonio, California.
Raptors were the main concern. But a study by McCrary (1986)evidenced that passerines were also being killed in numbers: "an overall estimate of as many as 6,800 birds killed per year, most of them nocturnal passerine
Many waterbirds are on the list as well.
But 6,800 birds out of millions were said to be "biologically insignificant".
No one bothered to ask what the cumulative effect would be, over thousands of future windfarms, over time, and over bird mortality from other causes. Instead, the wind industry and their followers take the minimizing approach: what´s 10,000-40,000 birds killed by windfarms in the US compared to millions killed by cats, cars, windows etc.!
Notes: a) 10,000-40,000 is "their" estimate,
b) it does not consider the ever-expanding number of windfarms,
c) cats and windows do not kill eagles, storks, swans etc.
d) more windfarms mean more power lines, another bird killer,
e) saturation of the airspace with obstacles is likely to increase the overall bird mortality rate,
f) the cumulative effect of all mortality causes is what is worrying,
g) cynically, what is actually being said is: one bird massacre justifies another. In the Chautauqua report, they call it the "real life" approach.
4) Navarre, Spain.
In 2001, a report commissioned by the local government gave evidence that one third of the wind turbines in the region had made 7,150 victims in one year, including 409 griffon vultures, 24 eagles and other raptors, 650 bats and over 6,000 small birds, 40% of them migrants. (9)
A deceitful summary was added to the 150-page document, disclosing only 0.03 victims/turbine/mo; and the report was shelved. This falsification* of the results did not cause the Spanish ornithological society to come out in the press, let alone take legal action. Not even when an employee with a conscience leaked out the report to GURELUR, a local association, or when it was published on Internet by IBERICA 2000.org.
*0.03 x 368 turbines = 11 victims/mo
And the true mortality of 7,150 had to be reconstructed from various tables in the report.
7,150 / 368 turbines = 20 victims/turbine/year
Dr. Lekuona, biologist and author of the field study, stresses that his mortality estimates are conservative.
5) Flanders, Belgium.
"At 12 sea-directed wind turbines on the ‘East dam’ in the port of Zeebrugge the mean number was 39 birds/wind turbine/year." (10)
The overall bird-kill average for the Flanders windfarms studied by biologist Joris Everaert in 2001-2002 comes to 20 birds per turbine/year. The author adds that his figures are conservative.
Yet, when this study was mentioned by a comprehensive Birdlife report, only the bird species were mentioned, not the figures. The protest of a few concerned individuals made them rectify in a subsequent edition.
6) Cordelia, Solano County, California.
S. Byrne monitored a solitary wind turbine for one year, starting in 1992: "The mortality adjusted for scavenger removal and detectability suggests an actual mortality during the study as high as 54 birds."
"Findings indicated relatively low rates of waterfowl movements and nocturnal songbird migration over the wind turbine site". And the author adds: "Migration rates were considerably lower than those recorded in the eastern United States." (11)
This example is remarkable on various counts:
A) Searches were conducted 5 days a week during nocturnal migrations - once a week thereafter.
Too many studies are based on weekly, half-monthly, monthly, and sometimes quarterly searches. This allows for most dead birds and bats to disappear. Besides, scavenger-removal tests are not an exact science. Some biologists use road-kills that have been frozen for months; but well-fed scavengers patrolling the windfarm daily may show a preference for freshly killed victims bearing no human or road scent. - This could distort the results significantly.
Daily searches are crucial when rare species are at stake. For example: let us suppose three Bonelli´s eagles are killed at a given windfarm in a given year, and their bodies are removed by foxes (or windfarm employees) between the weekly searches. - The study will show zero Bonelli´s eagles among the victims, even if scavenger-removal tests were conducted: a correction factor applied to a zero body-count comes out as nought.
Hence the importance of daily searches.
B) Being a solitary rotor, it should be easy for birds to avoid it - easier than a long string of turbines barring a migration flyway, like the Chautauqua project for instance. But the high mortality evidenced by Byrne shows that even a single machine is not so easy to avoid.
Moving blades, at night, are difficult to see - worse still in overcast conditions. Rain, wind are aggravating factors for visibility and avoidance action. And during the day, raptors are not deterred but attracted by the wind turbines, because of the mice, rabbits, or ground-squirrels that proliferate under them. Freshly-moved topsoil makes for easy burrowing around the concrete bases, and cleared woodlands turn into grasslands - i.e. rodent habitat. This has been amply demonstrated at Altamont (5).
The Chautauqua avian risk assessment pretends that wind turbines having ample space between them will cause insignificant mortality. - The Byrne study of a solitary turbine invalidates that prediction.
C) The Byrne survey yielded the highest-known bird-kill rate in the United States. Yet, it was promptly shelved and forgotten - evidencing a will to downplay the negative effects of windfarms on birdlife.
It is also in line with European findings (20 to 60 birds/turbine/year), whereas the US wind industry pretends that American windfarms only kill about 2 birds/turbine/year.
Unchallenged as they are by bird societies, wind promoters are able to go to extremes on the deception scale. Such is the case of the avian risk assessment of the Chautauqua project: here the consultant pretends that a string of 34 turbines on a ridgetop across a well-known migration flyway will kill a "maximum" of 110 birds/y. This compares with 54 birds killed by the single turbine studied by Byrne, which was located in a relatively low avian activity area.
If we applied the Byrne findings to the Chautauqua project:
34 x 54 = 1,836 dead birds/year
But at Cordelia, "Migration rates were considerably lower than those recorded in the eastern United States."
This is not the case for Chautauqua: the consultant estimates that 100,000 raptors fly over the wind resource area (WRA) each spring, 16,000 of which at an altitude agl* below 125 meters, which is the height of the turbines. Landfalls occur, so do local flights, and so does soaring and circling within the WRA.
*agl: above ground level
Waterbirds, bats and cranes also use the flyway. As for night migrating songbirds, the consultant estimates them at 3 million/year over the WRA, 118,000 of which fly below 125 meters agl and within the WRA.
It is clear that the figure of 1,836 - our birdkill extrapolation from the low bird activity area of Cordelia, is inadequate to estimate mortality at Chautauqua. A number in the five figures would be more likely, not including exceptional massacres due to poor weather conditions.
Yet the consultant predicts 110 dead birds/year. - The gap is that of two orders of magnitude!
7) The Netherlands.
In the ornithology profession, the highest reference when it comes to evaluating windfarm survey results is Dutch biologist J.E. Winkelman. She gave her name to the "Winkelman formula", which permits to extrapolate body-counts into estimated yearly mortality. This is done through applying a number of factors - scavenger removal, searcher efficiency, etc. which are to be established for each windfarm by rigorously conducted tests.
In her 1992 study at Urk and Oosterbierum, she estimated mortality to be somewhere between 33,500 and 195,500 birds per 1,000MW (12).
If we were to apply these estimates to the 50 MW Chautauqua project, we would obtain 1,675 to 9,775 dead birds a year. But Chautauqua is well-known for being a migration hotspot, so this extrapolation would be conservative.
What is more, the Dutch biologist emphasizes that her numbers are non-yearly figures: no observations were made during the summer period for both windfarms under study, nor during the winter period at Oosterbierum. More victims undoubtedly fell during those periods, so the "yearly" figures are underestimates, she notes.
She also wrote (translation): " From the night-research at Oosterbierum it became clear that the real number of victims lies between the average calculated and maximum number of victim." - i.e. somewhere between 33,500 and 195,500 dead birds per 1,000 MW. Conservatively, colleagues in the profession use the figure of 46,000.
From the PIER Study of the California Energy Commission (2002):
"In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al. (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden." (22)
I suppose that the windfams monitored by Benner et al. are located on a migration route, or in an otherwise very active avian area. Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain the report - but the authors of the PIER study obviously did. In any event, these statistics are staggering. They illustrate the fact that windfarms can kill very many birds. And this is quite logical, if we stop to think that even obstacles as obvious and immobile as are smokestacks can cause bird massacres, e.g.:
"On 23 September 1982, 1,265 birds (30 species from an estimated kill of 3,000) were collected below chimneys at the Crystal River Generating Facility, Citrus County, Florida…. On 24 September, an estimated 2,000 birds were involved in chimney collisions". Maehr, D.S., A.G. Spratt, and D.K. Voigts. 1983. Bird casualties at a central Florida power plant. Florida Field Naturalist 11:45-68.
And as windfarms cannot replace conventional plants, which are needed to back up the random intermittency of wind-produced electricity, the birds killed by wind turbines will have to be added to those colliding with smokestacks; plus those killed by power lines, guy wires, cars, domestic cats, windows, buildings, chemicals, poachers, habitat loss, etc. - It will be yet another straw to break the camel´s back: don´t we know that many species are already endangered, and/or declining rapidly?
And here is another piece of information, confirmed to us by Malcolm Ogilvie, distinguished ornithologist member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to Scottish Natural Heritage (a government body): in 1983, on a foggy night, a single wind turbine killed 49 birds (J.Karlsson, Vindkraft Faglar publication).
There is a dearth of scientifically-conducted monitoring studies in Germany. Yet, the country has one third of the world´s installed generating capacity. - One is bound to conclude that the Greens, who are in charge of windpower policy in the coalition government, do not favour transparency.
It would be extreme to rely solely on the figure of 309 birds/turbine/year provided by the Benner report (see: Sweden, in section 8 above). But in the absence of other studies, what are we to do? Here is another approach:
Bernd Koop, based on monitoring studies conducted in Holland by Winkelman, estimated there would be 60,000 to 100,000 bird collisions per 1,000 megawatt installed capacity in his country - annually (13).
Applying his estimate to Germany´s 17,000 MW, we obtain: 1,020,000 to 1,700,000 bird collisions per annum. And the closer we are getting to territorial saturation, the lower the chances for migrating birds to find safe routes through the maze, especially if we add the deadly power lines.
Already, birds in Germany die in great numbers from collisions with 70,000 km of high-tension lines that criss-cross the country - 30 million birds per year is an extrapolation found in Hoerschelmann, Haack & Wohlgemuth, based on a study along 4.5 km of power lines - electrocutions excluded (14). - As windfarms need more power lines, this mortality will increase as well.
The cumulative effect of existing tension lines, plus tens of thousands of wind turbines, and yet more power lines to connect the windfarms to the grid, will be severe. The effect on migrating birds will be felt in other European countries, as well as Africa.
Note: had we used the Benner figure of 309 birds/turbine/year, we would have obtained: 5,253,000 deadly collisions per annum (assuming an average of 1 MW per turbine).
And the German government is hell-bent on doubling the country´s windpower generating capacity.
Much effort was made to put a lid on the above statistics. The Winkelman yearly figures, for instance, were converted into daily rates per turbine in order to mask their magnitude (15). In the Lekuona study, a summary was added that showed 11 victims per month, whereas the body of the report established annual mortality at 7,150 bird and bats, including 409 griffon vultures (16). These, and other examples of deception, have been analysed and published (17) (29)
The studies concerning Altamont, and the SEO/Birdlife report on Tarifa (Strait of Gibraltar) did reach some notoriety because of the high visibility of the raptors being victimized. But the wind industry chose to pretend they were exceptions that confirmed the rule, and ignored the rest of the evidence. Bird societies, who support that industry, by and large acted likewise.
And today we are facing a well-financed disinformation campaign. Non-objective, unscientific studies are being released to promote windfarm projects in areas that are vital to birdlife. For people with little time to read them - everybody really - an abstract is added, which states what the sponsor wants them to believe.
For example, in the executive summary to the De Lucas study on a windfarm overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, we read: " wind farms have shown a spectacular growth because they have reduced the costs of energy production. This phenomenon has resulted in a proliferation of wind farms around the world (Germany, Holland, Spain, United States, etc.) (Osborn et al. 2000)." (18)
Why would ornithologists dabble in electricity production costing? Do the promoters dictate what the report must say - in this case a lie? Or are the consultants outdoing themselves to try and please their sponsors?
For the record, here is what the RAE has to say about the true cost of windpower:
"According to research carried out by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), the cheapest electricity, costing just 2.3 pence per unit, will be generated from gas turbines and nuclear power stations, compared with 3.7p for onshore wind and 5.5p for offshore. The Academy also emphasised the need to provide backup for wind energy to cover periods when the wind doesn´t blow. The study assumed the need for about 65% backup from conventional sources, adding 1.7p to the cost of wind power, bringing its price up to two and a half times that of gas or nuclear power."
Yet, this very report by De Lucas, biased as it is, is the cornerstone of a drive to place windfarms on migration hotspots in the State of New York (Chautauqua and others) (18).
In the same vein of deceit, we are being asked to believe that wind turbines do not pose a "significant" threat to eagle populations, even when placed on their hunting territories - be they breeding ranges or dispersion areas. On the basis of this untruth*, which relies on statistical manipulation and disregard for cumulative impacts, windfarms have, or will soon be built, in the following eagle habitats: Edinbane, Ben Aketil, Beinn an Tuirc, Beinn Mholach, North Lewis, Pairc, Eishken, Stacain, Carraig Gheal (Scotland); Smola island (Norway); sierras of Almudaina, Alfaro, el Cid, and dozens more in Spain; Starfish Hill, Bald Hill (Australia); Slovenia; Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Mexico); Hokkaido (Japan); and many more.
* Explaining "untruth":
......................(PARENTHESIS ON EAGLE MORTALITY)............................
Scientists have established that c. 2,300 golden eagles have been killed so far by the Altamont Pass windfarm (see above: 1) Altamont Pass). At German windpower plants, the bodies of 17 rare white-tailed sea eagles were found by members of the public (30). In Spain, eagles are routinely being killed by windfarms in the provinces of Navarre (9), Aragon, and Andalusia - that we know of:
ANDALUSIA (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/6_SHORT-TOED-EAGLES_aguilas_culebreras.doc) See Table in section II.2
At Starfish Hill, South Australia, 2 wedge-tailed eagles were killed practically as soon as the 26 turbines became operative (19). Their bodies were found by chance by the public; and one more carcass was found about one year later. Another "wedgie" got hacked at the Codrington windfarm, in Victoria. And four more were killed, of the rare and endangered Tasmanian subspecies, at the Woolnorth windfarm, Tasmania. Some monitoring is done at that windfarm: 10 turbines are checked, out of 32.
In Japan, at least 3 white-tailed sea eagles were killed, and a windfarm is presently being built on their migration flyway - so there will be many more. Steller´s eagles from Kamchatka, who winter in the same area, will be the next species to be victimised (27). In New Mexico, a newspaper article alerted us to the fact that 2 golden eagles had been killed, one of them as ravens chased it into a wind turbine (28) - let´s hope the intelligent corvids will not add this technique to their learned behaviours.
We also learned, extra-officially once more, that 3 white-tailed eagles had been found, killed by wind-turbines, at various locations in Sweden**. And "at least" one golden eagle is also reported to have been killed, at the Nasudden windfarm. Yet, practically no monitoring is being carried out in Sweden. And we heard nothing about these deaths from the Swedish ornithological society... That is symptomatic of a sad state of affairs, where conflict of interest keeps bird societies from speaking up.
** We have pictures of one of them:
PHOTO DEAD EAGLE SWEDEN (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/Adult_white-tailed_eagle_killed_windturbine_Sweden.jpg)
Where it was found (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/Turbine_that_killed_eagle_Sweden.jpg)
View of the eagle-killers (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/View_of_the_eagle-killers_Sweden.jpg)
Finally, in Norway, on Smola island, 9 sea eagles were killed in 10 months of operation (second phase of the windfarm - first phase was not monitored)..
In that country too, the ornithological society does not seem to be keen on releasing such news when they unfold. The international birding community may never have known about it if a private party had not advised us, anonymously, of the first kill:
I complained about this lack of transparency in an update to this article dated December 2005. Then, on January 12th, Alv Ottar Folkestad of the Norwegian Ornithological Society advised us that the total number of victims, in a period of only 5 months, had been of 11 sea eagles - 4 killed by the turbine blades, 7 by the windfarm´s power lines.
Shortly after, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds surprised the ornithological community with a press release disclosing that (only) 4 eagles had been killed at Smola.
We naturally thought that the RSPB was trying to minimize the negative impact the kills would have on windfarm projects in Scotland. After all, the unholy alliance of the bird society with the wind industry (see: http://www.rspbenergy.co.uk/Home/Products/RSPB/RSPBBenefits.aspx) often impairs its objectivty.
In the end, 3 weeks after his first email, the Norwegian ornithologist came back with a "clarification" saying that the 7 dead eagles ignored by the RSPB had been killed by power lines not connected to the windarm, and over several years.
The pro wind industry bias of the RSPB is best evidenced by the decision they took, after these Smola kills, to procrastinate further (let´s-do-more-studies type of response) - instead of calling for an immediate moratorium on windfarms in eagle territories.
The "more proof" soon arrived: in May 2006, we were told that 5 more sea eagles had been killed by the Smola wind turbines, in the months of April and May. The RSPB did not comment on those, until June 23rd.
Recapitulating: the Altamont (California) figures are the result of scientific monitoring at one very large windfarm (5,700 turbines), extrapolated to 20 years of actual operation; the Tarifa (Andalusia) casualties were found during one year of monitoring at 2 windfarms totalling 256 turbines. The Navarre figures correspond to a one year study at 368 turbines. The Tasmania casualties were found during monitoring of 10 turbines. The 5 recent Smola kills were found as monitoring was unertaken after the first 4 deaths were reported by windfarm employees. All the other reported deaths are casual finds: i.e. bird carcasses found by the public, and whose discovery was somehow notified to me. So what we are seeing here is truly the tip of the iceberg. The total eagle-take worldwide is likely to be in the hundreds yearly (116 at Altamont Pass, plus dozens in each of Spain, Scandinavia, Germany, Japan, Australia etc.)
Eagles are slow to reproduce. It is clear that, if more windfarms are built on eagle territories throughout the world, their cumulative impact will be biologically significant. In clear, this means that eagles will disappear altogether from a number of countries, starting with Scotland. There, the killings have probably started already: at Beinn Ghlas, the resident pair has "disappeared" - and as the windfarm is not being monitored for bird strikes, we shall never know if they were hacked. Ditto at Beinn and Tuirc: no monitoring for mortality, so we don´t know...
.................................(END OF PARENTHESIS ON EAGLE MORTALITY)............................
Back now to the "vein of deceit". There is no limit to this line of dishonesty: industry supporters now pretend that it is acceptable to place over 200 wind turbines in a bird sanctuary of international importance, protected by the RAMSAR convention and the European network of natural reserves NATURA 2000: the Lewis peatlands SPA, in the Western Isles, Scotland. It is home to seven listed bird species, some of them in numbers constituting a high percentage of the total UK or European populations. It is also an important migration stopover for many other species - including whooper swans, barnacle geese, white-fronted geese, etc. - being their first and last landfall on their route to and from Greenland and Iceland.
And they get away with it: witness the approval of a windfarm in South Gippsland* next to a bird reserve - in spite of the presence of rare parrots, of wedge-tailed eagles, and the active opposition of the neighbours.
* Victoria, Australia.
Migration hotspots are not spared either. The Ripley Hawkwatch at Chautauqua is one of them (29). Others include major bottlenecks over and around the Mediterranean: Gibraltar, Southern Italy and Sicily, Israel and Egypt. In the Asia-Pacific region: the Soya peninsula in Japan, the Cook Strait in New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania in Australia. In America, the Appalachian mountains are being targeted in a big way, but so are a number of flyways in New England, the crucial Southern Texas chokepoint, and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico, busiest migration corridor in the world.
Thousands of wind turbines to obstruct Nº1 migration route in the world.
Everywhere, environmental studies minimize the "predicted" bird mortality. And everywhere, the "salami slicing" approach is favoured: each application is based on its own merits, without consideration for the regional cumulative impact, let alone national, international, and inter-risk. By "inter-risk" I mean: the impact of windfarms should be added to those of power lines, telecommunication towers, windows and buildings, cars, cats, poisoning, poaching, loss of habitat, etc. - not compared to them, . Yet, this is what many promoters are doing. It would also help if the figures they quote - 30,000 bidkills a year in the US - would be peer-reviewed by independent experts.
Deceitful studies, irregular and faulty surveys*, untruthful statements cover up the violation of conservation laws that took 2 centuries to establish.
* Scottish Natural Heritage conducted a hasty survey, discarded evidence gathered by the consultant in his own earlier survey, and removed their objection to the siting of a windfarm in the Lewis peatlands SPA (21).
Yet bird societies, which are de-facto watchdogs for the respect of such laws regarding birdlife, remain very quiet. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, for instance, refused to mediatize its mild objection to the Beinn Mholach windfarm project in the Natura 2000/RAMSAR Lewis peatlands SPA. And the project was subsequently approved.
The RSPB and others equally fail to publicize the studies and statistics presented herein, falsely stating that Altamont and Tarifa are "exceptions".
The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds is the exception that confirms the rule: they did launch a petition to save their migrating birds from a windfarm project. Who would have thought that Bulgarian ornithologists would give a lesson to the rest of the world in conservation ethics?
Under sustained criticism from independent observers, several bird societies are now opposing a few projects here and there. But these are seen as token gestures to appease their critics. They remain staunch supporters of an industry that provides the ornithological profession with comfortable revenues.
Their responsibility in the unfolding biodiversity disaster caused by windfarms is paramount. A case in point: none of them is objecting the most damaging of all projects:
Thousands of wind turbines to obstruct Nº1 migration route in the world.
Above: as found in a windfarm in Flanders, Belgium - courtesy of Joris Everaert, biologist with the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Flemish Government.
And what about bats?
The effect of windfarms on bats deserves another paper. Suffice to say here that a windfarm on the Backbone Mountain in West Virginia is estimated to have killed 2,000 to 4,000 bats in one year (20).
That´s 45 to 90 dead bats per turbine/year.
And the world is heading for one million wind turbines, in a first phase of windpower development...
Mark Duchamp..........................................September 2004
firstname.lastname@example.org.........................(partially updated Dec. 05)
click Photos to enlarge, and click title above pictures to see other subjects.
The negative effects of windfarms: links to papers published by Mark Duchamp
Documents & Pictures (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/dirlist2-main.asp?f=/eolica)
Links to my articles in Spanish:.....Energía eólica - enlaces a los artículos de Mark Duchamp
(2) - GE - General Electric webpage: Also available here: www.gepower.com/prod_serv/products/wind_turbines/en/15mw/index.htm
(3) - Report
(W. Grainger Hunt et al., Golden Eagles in a Perilous Landscape: Predicting The Effects Of Mitigation For Wind Turbine Blade-Strike Mortality, University of California, Santa Cruz. California Energy Commission Report, 2002.)
Also available here: www.energy.ca.gov/reports/2002-11-04_500-02-043F.PDF and here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/ALTAMONT/Altamont_GHunt_report.pdf
(4) - Report (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/ALTAMONT/Dr.Smallwood_presentation.pdf) - K. Shawn Smallwood, Carl Thelander, and Linda Spiegel
Raptor Mortality at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area
Research funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/ALTAMONT/Dr.Smallwood_presentation.pdf
(5) - Report - Thelander, C. G,Smallwood, K.S., Rugge, L. - Bird Risk Behaviors and Fatalities at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area - March 1998-December 2000, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report SR-500-33829, December 2003.
Also available here: www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/33829.pdf
(6) - Report (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/Tarifa_SEO_report.pdf) - SEO/Birdlife International: Effects of wind turbine power plants on the avifauna in the Campo de Gibraltar region (1995) by L. B. Jaque and R. M. Montes (especially: 4. conclusions).
Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/Tarifa_SEO_report.pdf
(7) - Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. SEE SECTION 2 - M. Duchamp (2003) Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1223
(8) - San Gorgonio (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/6800_bird_fatalities.doc) SEE "SOURCE": LINK TO REPORT AND GO TO PAGE 12 - McCrary (1986) Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/6800_bird_fatalities.doc
(9) - Original, in Spanish (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/CASTELLANO/Informe_LEKUONA.pdf) (Dr. J.M. Lekuona report).
- Translation (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/Lekuona_report.doc) (translation of executive summary) .
- Birds and windfarms - Bird Genocide at windfarm sites (Comments in English)
(10) - Report J. Everaert report: Wind Turbines and Birds in Flanders: preliminary study results and recommendations (2003) - Joris Everaert, biologist, Institute of Nature Conservation (IN). Scientific Institute of the Flemish Community.
Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/Everaert_report.pdf
(11) - Byrne, S. 1983. Bird movements and collision mortality at a large horizontal axis wind turbine. Cal-Neva Wildlife Transactions: 76-83. This study was conducted as a part of Pacific Gas and Electric Company´s performance monitoring program for a Boeing MOD-2 wind turbine.
- Not available on Internet.
(12) - Winkelman J.E., 1992a - De invloed van de Sep-proefwindcentrale te Oosterbierum (Fr) opvogels - aanvaringsslachtoffers - section 5.6.8.
De invloed van de Sep-proefwindcentrale te Oosterbierum (Fr) op
Instituut voor Bos- en Natuuronderzoek (IBN-DLO), Arnhem.
- Not available on Internet.
(13) - Koop B., 1997. Vogelzug und Windenergieplanung. Beispiele für Auswirkungen aus dem Kreis Plön (Schleswig-Holstein). Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung 29 (7): 202-207. - Used to be available on Internet here:
(14) - Hoerschelmann, Haack & Wohlgemuth (Ecol. Birds 10, 1988: 85-103; German text, English summary) - Not available on Internet.
(15) - Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. SEE SECTION 4 - M. Duchamp (2003) Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1223
(16) - Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. SEE SECTION 1 - M. Duchamp (2003) Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1223
(17) - Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. SEE ALL 4 SECTIONS - M. Duchamp (2003) Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1223
- Windfarms - Red Energy - M. Duchamp (2003)
Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1227
(18) - M. de Lucas, Janss & Ferrer (2002-2003): The effects of a wind farm on birds in a migration point: the Strait of Gibraltar. Department of Applied Biology, Estacion Biologica de Donana (CSIC) Seville, Spain. (Received 10 July 2002; accepted in revised form 20 January 2003)
SEE: Windfarms and Birds - the Chautauqua scandal. - SECTION 1.9
(19) - Excerpt from A. Chapman (2003) - Renewable Energy Industry Environmental Impacts:
"I recently received the following information from members of the Eaglehawk Conservation Group in South Australia about the Starfish Hill wind farm, a facility developed by Starfish Hill Wind Farm Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tarong Energy, based in Queensland.
· On 22 September 2003 the group said a Wedge-tailed Eagle had been killed at the Starfish Hill wind farm. This kill occurred before it was officially opened by Premier Mike Rann on Saturday 4 October 03.
· During the first week in October 2003 a second eagle was found dead under one of the turbines by the Tarong Energy Site Manager.
At least four months after the first turbine commenced operating and even after the last kill there was no official bird kill monitoring procedure in place. These two eagle kills are known only because members of the public have stumbled across them."
(20) - Document Merlin Tuttle, director of Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas Also available here: www.friendsofthealleghenyfront.org/newsdown14.htm
(21) - Objection (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/LEWIS/Objection_Pentland_Road_Windfarm.doc) SEE SECTION E: Objection hastily removed by SNH
- M. Duchamp (2004), Objection to the Beinn Mholach (aka Pentland Road windfarm) - Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/LEWIS/Objection_Pentland_Road_Windfarm.doc
(22) - Report (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/REPORTS/Dave_Sterner_2002.pdf) SEE PAGE 12, first paragraph - D. Sterner, for the California Energy Commision (Dec. 2002) A Roadmap for PIER Research on Avian Collisions with Wind Turbines in California. Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/REPORTS/Dave_Sterner_2002.pdf
(23) - Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. SEE SECTION 3 - M. Duchamp (2003) Also available here: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1223
(24) - DEVELOPING METHODS TO REDUCE BIRD MORTALITY IN THE ALTAMONT PASS WIND RESOURCE AREA - Dr. Smallwood & K. Thelander, Aug. 2004. - SMALLWOOD - SEE CHAPTER 3, TABLE 3.11, 1ST LINE: "116.5 golden eagles p.a. adjusted for search detection and scavenging." - also available here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/pier/final_project_reports/500-04-052.html
(25) - "It appears that factors other than tower type play more of a role in whether a particular turbine is associated with one or more fatalities, such as prey distribution about the tower’s base, physical relief, and presence of declivity winds. Regardless, the number of fatalities at tubular towers was higher than at horizontal lattice towers".
THELANDER (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/ALTAMONT/Thelander_Smallwood_and_Rugge_final_2003.pdf) Bird Risk Behaviors and
Fatalities at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area - December 2003
Chapter 6: Discussion
Also available here: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/33829.pdf
(26) - "Adjusting for local relative abundance, the existing data indicate that most wind energy generating facilities have an equal impact on the local raptors."
DEVELOPING METHODS TO REDUCE BIRD MORTALITY IN THE ALTAMONT PASS WIND RESOURCE AREA - Dr. Smallwood & K. Thelander, Aug. 2004. - SMALLWOOD - see CHAPTER 4 - PARAGRAPH 4.4.1
also available here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/pier/final_project_reports/500-04-052.html
(27) - JAPAN (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/Japan_3_eagles_killed_in_2004.txt) - correo de una bióloga de Japon.
Sierra - artículo en la página web del ONG Americano: Sierra Club.
(28) - NEW MEXICO (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/2%20eagles%20killed%20by%20windfarm%20in%20new%20mexico.htm)
(29) - Windfarms and Birds - the Chautauqua scandal.
(30) - Brandenburg State Records (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/casual_bird_mortality_record_germany.xls)
>> Autor: Mark Duchamp (22/09/2004)
>> Fuente: Mark Duchamp
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