Energy policymakers in Massachusetts, Delaware, and elsewhere see a future where 1000’s of giant wind turbines, blades reaching to 300-feet in length, will populate the deep waters off the U.S. coast from Maine to Cape Hatteras (NC) and beyond. They envision wind energy as the primary source of electricity for eastern population centers. The fickle nature of wind will be 'corrected' by building new onshore gas plants that generate during low wind conditions. Little has been voiced publicly about this eco-dream. Is it even possible using existing infrastructure? or will a new super-grid need to be created? How much of the enormous cost will be borne by the public? While money is being expended today, have there been policy and technical discussions reviewing the feasibility? There is very limited experience worldwide for deep-water wind development and none in the U.S. It's worth noting that the near-shore Cape Wind (MA) and LIPA (NY) projects, both heavily reliant on public subsidies and existing infrastructure, will each cost nearly a billion dollars to build. The one Texas offshore proposal, with subsidies, has been deemed economically unviable and scrapped by the developer.
New York's Maple Ridge wind energy facility (195 turbines) will slaughter up to 10,000 migratory birds and bats annually. The collision rate reported after the first fall season mortality survey were 34.12 targets per turbine or 6700 collisions, 72% of which are migrating bats (see: http://www.windaction.org/documents/8533 ). IWA estimates yearly collisions to rise to 10,000 after accounting for spring migration and other year-round migrants. Reports that cite the number of carcasses recovered are not representative of the number of birds and bats actually killed.
Forum sponsored by the Boston Museum of Science and WGBH
Dr. Thomas H. Kunz and others, in their peer-reviewed paper entitled “Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats: questions, research needs, and hypotheses”, detail the significant risk that industrial-scale wind turbines pose for migratory and local bat populations in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands region of the United States. The authors project that by 2020, annual bat fatalities at wind energy facilities in this region alone can reach 111,000 bats. Kunz and others also state that their preliminary projections of cumulative bat fatalities are “likely to be unrealistically low, especially as larger and increasing numbers of wind turbines are installed.” (See http://www.windaction.org/documents/11179 )
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