Wind turbine and birds

Producing more wind energy in the U.S. can help reduce carbon pollution. But wind farms can harm wildlife, especially birds.

Joe Fargione of the Nature Conservancy says golden eagles, for example, watch the ground while hunting.

“They’re not looking where they’re going and they run into the turbines,” he says.

The spinning blades also kill thousands of bats each year.

And wind farms can even be a hazard for ground-dwelling birds like sage grouse that avoid nesting near the turbines.

So to find a solution, Fargione and his team looked at data and maps for 17 central U.S. states. They identified over 140,000 square miles of land that are optimal for wind but pose little danger to sensitive species.

“Happily, our conclusion is that there’s plenty of wind that can be sited in low-impact, low-conflict areas,” he says.

The research shows that these locations have the potential to produce more than 10 times the amount of wind energy currently generated in the U.S. So if wind development expands in these areas, Fargione says he and his team are “quite optimistic that we can have both renewable energy that we need to fight climate change and habitat for our important wildlife species.”

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Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Energy, Species & Ecosystems