Wind Killing Bird Energy: Suddenly the argument of wind energy opponents fades

Some see wind energy as a great opportunity to combat climate change. Energy free largely from carbon dioxide; There is no haze of smoke, the air remains clean. Wind turbines with an output of three megawatts can supply about 2,000 households.

On the other hand, many people reject wind power: rotary engines kill tens of thousands of animals every year in Germany. A renewable energy source that has a near-perfect carbon footprint but kills a lot of animals in the area doesn’t add up to many people.

Birds fly around the turbines at a distance of one kilometer

However, a joint study by the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Constance and the University of East Anglia in England came to surprising conclusions:

On the other hand, 1,454 birds of 27 species were examined and identified locations in Europe where birds are particularly endangered due to wind turbines and power lines.

Then the scientists watched the birds fly near the wind turbines.

The result: birds fly around the turbines for 1 kilometer.

Only 28 wind turbines were built in 2021

Next to noise pollution, the bird-killer argument is the strongest argument often used by opponents of wind energy. Several initiatives are delaying wind turbine expansion with their protests and court hearings. With the results of the study, the accusation will literally vanish into thin air.

The Traffic Lights Alliance is pushing hard for wind turbine expansion. On the one hand, to achieve climate goals, on the other hand, to become more independent, for example, from Russian gas. Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck would like to allocate up to 2% of the state’s land to wind turbines.

Many countries are lagging behind. Baden-Württemberg, for example, only reached 0.2%. In Bavaria, distance regulations were relaxed only a few days ago. In 2021, only 28 wind turbines were built nationwide. Habik’s goal now is to build 100 wind turbines annually. Approximately 30,000 systems currently supply wind energy to Germany.

Greenhouses are dangerous too

Even if the study came to a positive conclusion: the number of birds killed by wind turbines is far from zero. It is difficult to make an accurate assessment of the number of animals that die from rotifers because wind turbines are added every year and it is assumed that not all cases will be reported or birds will not be found.

Studies by the German Environment Ministry assume that there are one to four dead birds per year and wind turbines in northern Germany, Der Standard reports. In an interview with FOCUS Online, the State Institute of Ornithology also assumes an average in single digits for each wind turbine and year.

In the four northern German federal states alone, more than 8,500 familiar hawks die from wind turbines each year. This corresponds to nearly eight percent of the total population in these countries, as reported by the Global Environment Outlook in 2019.

“It’s important to see mortality rates in relation to other events that also cause animal deaths,” says Stefan Barth, managing director of Forwind, the joint center for wind energy research at the Universities of Oldenburg, Hanover and Bremen. In comparison, wind turbine cases will have a very low percentage. It also indicates that there will be more dead birds in traffic, greenhouses, or other events.

The study provides insights for further steps in expanding wind turbines

The study should now contribute to reducing bird deaths from wind turbines. A distinction is made between bird species when evaluating mortality: there are fewer raptors overall, but migratory birds are often the victims of spinners. It is important for animal rights activists to conserve biodiversity. This means that even if the birds die individually, this will be accepted as long as the endangered bird population is maintained.

“By tracking GPS, we can understand exactly how birds behave when they fly close to turbines,” says Carlos Santos of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior.

The data provides location and flight altitude, which cannot be determined by direct observation, especially due to large distances, says Martin Wikelski, director of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior and co-author of the study. It has collected, for the first time, GPS data from many species to provide a comprehensive picture of where birds are at risk.

Birds are particularly at risk on the coasts and near breeding sites along important migration routes. These include the western Mediterranean coast of France, southern Spain and the Moroccan coast, as well as the Strait of Gibraltar, eastern Romania, the Sinai Peninsula and Germany’s Baltic coast. In their study, the authors called for keeping construction of new wind turbines and high voltage lines in these highly sensitive areas to a minimum. If the construction of new plants cannot be prevented, measures must be taken to reduce the risks to birds.

According to wind energy expert Stefan Barth, additional measures could include adjusting the distances between wind turbines in certain areas. Manual closing regulations may also be used when birds are outside at dusk or during the breeding season. AI software can intervene when animals get close. “The goal is to reduce the number of bird deaths caused by wind turbines,” Barth says. This is the only way that climate protection and species protection can coexist.