Wind Turbines = Proven Bat Grinders, Slaughter Avian Species!

Submitted by Zebra Mussel on Sat, 04/07/2007 - 09:01.

I am in DC for the next while and thought I would share with NEO the latest smattering (LOL pun inteneded) of news re: birds and bats and blades of DOOM!


DOOM DOOM DOOOOooOOOooom I say!!!  


Researchers Alarmed by Bat Deaths From Wind Turbines

By Justin Blum

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 1, 2005; Page A01

Washington Post Staff WriterSaturday, January 1, 2005; Page A01


Washington Post Staff WriterSaturday, January 1, 2005; Page A01


Jessica Kerns thought her survey of new power-generating wind turbines on a mountaintop in West Virginia would yield the standard result: a smattering of dead birds that were whacked by the whirring blades.

But the University of Maryland doctoral student turned up something unexpected amid the trees and rolling ridges of Backbone Mountain: hundreds of bat carcasses, some with battered wings and bloodied faces. "It was really a shock," Kerns said.

Thousands of bats have died at Backbone and on another nearby wind farm in Meyersdale, Pa. -- more per turbine than at any other wind facility in the world, according to researchers' estimates. The deaths are raising concerns about the impact of hundreds more turbines planned in the East, including some in western Maryland, as the wind industry steps up expansion beyond its traditional areas in the West and Great Plains.

The bat deaths, which have baffled researchers, pose a problem for an industry that sells itself as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional power plants. Wind proponents already have had to battle complaints about bird deaths from the blades and about unsightly turbines marring pristine views.

The white turbines in Appalachia rise more than 340 feet above the ground -- well above the tree canopy -- and are lined up close to one another to catch the wind as it blows over the mountains and ridges.

The bat problem could worsen, conservationists fear, as wind developers rush to erect new turbines following the recent renewal of a federal tax break for a year. The wind industry, which had been virtually dormant since the last tax break expired a year ago, projects more wind turbines to be built around the country this year than in any previous year. In the areas near where bats have been killed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, activists said, roughly 700 new turbines have been proposed or approved.

"Take the most conservative estimates of mortality and multiply them out by the number of turbines planned and you get very large, probably unsustainable kill rates," said Merlin D. Tuttle, president and founder of Bat Conservation International, whose Austin-based group is leading the research effort in Appalachia. "One year from now we could have a gigantic problem."

Bats serve an important role in nature, and their populations are believed to be in decline, scientists said. The bats getting killed in Appalachia devour insects that pose grave threats to crops such as corn and cotton. They also feast on pests that can spread disease, such as mosquitoes.

On Backbone Mountain, at a facility called Mountaineer Wind Energy Center, the first dead bats were found in 2003, soon after the project's 44 turbines came online. Conservationists and the wind industry hoped the deaths were a fluke.

But Kerns and other researchers returned last year and now estimate the 2004 death toll at between 1,500 and 4,000 bats. Nearby, another group of researchers, working at the 20-turbine wind farm in Pennsylvania, which came online a year ago, found a raft of bat carcasses as well.

Researchers do not know why bats are flying into the turbines. Armed with radar and thermal imaging cameras, they are trying to come up with recommendations for wind power developers to avoid the problem. Researchers are uncertain whether bats are attracted to the spinning blades or if their sonar, which allows them to find food and avoid trees and other objects, fails to detect the turbines.

None of the species of bats found on the two mountains is endangered, said Albert M. Manville II, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The carcasses found include those of hoary, red and eastern pipistrelle bats. The deaths appear to violate no federal laws, Manville said, but the threat is serious. Unless a solution is found, he said, the turbines could get a reputation as being "bat Veg-o-matics."

The large number of dead bats caught the wind power industry by surprise, and now its leaders are scrambling to find a solution.

"It was something that when we found out  about it we felt we needed to respond to immediately," [yeA RIGHT] said Laurie Jodziewicz of the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, which also is participating in the research. "What we wanted to do this year was to get a handle on what's going on. "

The wind industry confronted its biggest environmental challenge when early model turbines in Northern California killed large numbers of birds. The industry says newer turbines and more attention to site selection have dramatically cut the number of bird deaths in subsequent projects around the country, though some environmentalists say too many birds are still dying.

The turbines tend to attract a lot of attention as they pop up around the country, but they are responsible for generating a tiny amount of electricity in the United States.

Last year, the industry said, it provided nearly 17 billion kilowatt hours, enough to serve some 1.6 million households -- less than 1 percent of the country's electricity production. Analysts said future expansion of the industry will be tied largely to whether the tax break remains on the books.

Wind power is generally more costly than generating electricity by more conventional methods -- though analysts said federal and state subsidies make the alternative more attractive. In addition, they said that as natural gas prices rise, wind becomes more competitive.  [POSTER NOTE - WIND IS ONLY MORE COSTLY IF YOU CONTINUE TO TREAT POLLUTION, STRIP MINING, AND MEDICAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH PARTICULATE EMMISSIONS AS EXTERNALITIES]

An increasing number of states require that a certain amount of power come from renewable sources, such as wind. During debate over federal energy legislation in previous years, some interest groups called for a requirement that renewable sources account for a certain percentage of the nation's electricity production.

In the East, wind has only recently caught on, and the most preferable areas are on mountains where wind tends to be most powerful.

In West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the turbines are positioned on wide paths cleared amid maple, oak and other hardwood trees.

And that may have something to do with the bat deaths. Bats appear to be attracted to the open areas cleared by the wind developers because they can more easily find insects there, researchers said. But they are unsure why the bats hit the blades of the turbines -- whether they're attracted or accidentally fly into them

Some of the bats are migrating south and others live near the wind farms, researchers said. Most of the deaths occurred between July and September, which includes the months of peak migration.

The two sites where researchers have found a large number of bat deaths are operated by FPL Energy of Juno Beach, Fla., the largest U.S. generator of wind power.

"There is something going on . . . that we don't fully have our arms around," said Steve Stengel, a spokesman for FPL, which has helped fund the bat research. "Our hope is that there are some suggestions based on the research of things that can be done to potentially reduce the number of collisions."

Some in the industry argue that there's no evidence that the bat deaths   in Appalachia will be repeated on other wooded mountaintops or ridges in the East. [OF COURSE NOT] Bat conservationists disagree, saying the evidence gathered so far suggests the problem will recur.

Several wind developers working on projects in Appalachia said they were concerned but planned to move ahead. Among them is Clipper Windpower Inc. of Carpinteria, Calif., which is planning a project on a portion of Backbone Mountain in Western Maryland, about 20 miles from the Mountaineer project.

"We're hopeful that they're going to identify some of the major issues there and we'll be able to respond to those," said Kevin Rackstraw, the company's development leader for eastern North America. "I don't think it's an acceptable response . . . to stop everything until we have answers. You can't just bring everything to a screeching halt. You move forward diligently trying to respond to the concerns as best you can."

The bats' deaths have caused a painful split among environmentalists. Some continue to support new wind power projects, saying any harm they cause bats would be far less severe than the environmental problems associated with mining for coal and burning it to produce electricity. The industry concurs, saying the public needs to consider the overall harm other forms of energy production cause the environment compared to wind.

But other environmentalists are calling for a moratorium on development of wind projects on wooded mountaintops in the region until researchers figure out how to prevent bat deaths. Some, such as Dan Boone, spokesman of a group called Citizens for Responsible Wind Power and conservation chair for the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club, said the amount of power generated by the windmills is not worth killing bats and birds.

"We have an industry targeting that area, and it's not doing it sensibly," Boone said. "We're blowing the promise of wind as a good, renewable energy source."

Some other environmentalists who disagree have launched an Internet petition calling on Boone to resign from his Sierra Club position.

Kerns, who studied the problem in 2003 for a contractor for FPL and is now working with the bat conservation group, said she has started to see patterns in the deaths. She has not reached any conclusive findings.

For example, before and after large storms, more bats tend to die. On warmer nights when wind speeds are lower, more have died. But researchers do not know why.

Kerns feels a sense of urgency to complete the research as developers ready their plans for nearby mountains.

"It's likely the same thing will occur," she said. "I look at the areas that are around here and I worry about the mortality that will occur there."


WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE AVIAN SPECIES ON OUR BEAUTIFUL LAKE?  I PREDICT A REPORTED "NO DEATHS" BECAUSE ALL OF THE CURRENT IMPACT ASSESSMENTS INVOLVE COUNTING DEAD BODIES.  OUT ON THE LAKE, OUT IN THE PERIMETER, IN OUR WILDERNESS, THE DEATHS OF SPECIES WILL GO UNOTICED.   On the bright side they wind turbine bird strikes on lake erie might be good for walleye  ;-)  MMMmmm  and I need some of that there walleye.   I am running low on Pb, Zn, and Mercury.  (o and pcb's).



    How's your balance Z?  Think maybe you're posting over dramatized mortality figures from  anti-wind agenda sources and then throwing in a little humorous embellishment of your own?  I was hoping Sarah Taylor or Dave Nash (actually, Mr. Nash could be working anti-wind) would log on and respond to you, but no luck.  I’ll have to take on the heavy lifting…

I know, I know – yes,you do address rationality with your inserted comment:



So that’s what needs to be balanced, right?  Those externalities,  And which way do you think the global ecosystem damage  scale is tipped with today’s energy production techniques?  More damage from traditional power production sources or from your grinders?


  [  POSTER (buster) QUESTIONs:  Mommy, WHY DO coal, oil, and gas fired POWER PLANTS HAVE BIG HIGH CHIMNEYS?  Are  bats an  avian  species?]


So it seems to me that opposing wind (or other means of power generation which have less damaging externalities than today’s power production methods) put’s us in the posture of a hypocrite.


We’re all hypocrites if we oppose wind – while we use power generated from filthy poisonous sources that pour out invisible toxic fumes and turn our atmosphere into a gaseous cess pool. .  That goes for me, and you.


 – unless you live in an igloo powered by walrus blubber lamps – (that could be cool).  But I know you don’t.  You’ve got the car, the house, the heater in the basement, curly light bulbs in your sockets and a cell phone charger too.  Same stuff we’ve all got.




Solar PV up on the roof?  Show me.  Solar hot water?  Show me.  Wind turbine buzzing backward through your meter?  Show me.  Composting toilet?  (I’ll take your word for it – actually I have installed a Sun-Mar - they work fine)



I am concerned about bat mortality.  When the West Virginia news came out several years back I read everything I could find – I should have done my Kaizen routine and gone there.  I haven’t done that yet.    I read and saw images of a tower area located along a ridge with hardwoods.   The largest number of bats were found near a group of towers that was near a new fenced in  transformer substation that had new street lights illuminating the substation.  We know that lights attract insects – any fool with a camera can prove that,  There were no lights on the towers.   Bats were feeding around the sub-station lights and being struck by the turbine blades as they came and went.  Not good.


The larger question in my mind was why the bats' sonar did not pick up the fiberglass blades.   We know that fiberglass is relatively transparent to electromagnetic radiation (the radome on the nose of aircraft is fiberglass for that reason).  But sonar should reflect from fiberglass – unless the fiberglass geometry is “stealthy” which blade contours are. Airfoils by design have no concavities or facets to effectively directionally reflect either radar or sonar energy pulses. 


So I thought that the Feds defense dept. might be interested in this bat death news.  Billions of taxpayers’ dollars could be spent researching how to design a new stealth bomber or fighter made with fiberglass that eluded radar and sonar tracking.  The test pilots could fly through bats - more mort, higher the score.    Our national defense would be upgraded and the free world made safer for force-fed “democratization + Guantanamoization”.   That would move the US ahead.


Buoys have radar reflecting cupped-shaped metal structures on their tops so ships' radar can find the buoys easily.   We can’t maximize sonar reflectivity on a turbine blade by roughing up the surface geometry of the blade because that will cause massive aerodynamic inefficiency.  However, just under the fiberglass blade skin, cupped shaped coin sized foil faced  sonar reflective devices might be embedded.  Particularly near the fastest moving blade tips.  The reflected signal would need to spell danger to the bat, not spell dinner – as in the sonar reflection from a tasty flying insect’s profile.


Zebra Mussel, you’re a smart guy.  How can we come up with a bat proof blade?




Jeff, glad I struck a

Jeff, glad I struck a nerve.  I have no doubt that wind is better than the cleanest coal ever.  I just dont want them on our lake.  We need both sides to be represented.


Actually I do.   Sorry to point out your error.... at present I have 3 small wind turbines and pv that powers about most of my communications.      So there.


I am producing more power than most dog!     ;-)


Really I just dont like the water turbines.  

birds in the way of progress

I believe I can fly... I believe I can touch the sky...  (this post is about birds, but takes a long detour to Erie County and the Plum Brook Nuclear Facility, so please bear with me… ah, the internet!) Feel free to skip to the back to birds section at the end of this post if Plum Brook Nuclear business and Port Authorities bore you.

I was trying to uncover the story of why the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Port Authority would be involved in Plum Brook Station (if you have any info on this, please write in...) and found this via a google map search. The (USDA/APHIS/WS National Wildlife Research Center Ohio Field Station) field station, established in 1968, is 4 miles south of Sandusky, OH, and Lake Erie at Plum Brook Station, a 6,000-acre, fenced facility in Erie County operated by Glenn Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The restricted facility contains native grassland, reverted farmland, marsh, and woodland adjacent to intensively farmed land outside the fence.

About Plum Brook

NASA's only nuclear test reactor was the Plum Brook Reactor Facility, which is affiliated with the NASA Glenn Research Center. The facility, located on land that is now Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, operated from 1962-1973; but the history of the land stretches back to the 19 th Century when War of 1812 veterans were given the property. The federal government seized 9000 acres of this farmland in 1941 to construct a sprawling Ordnance Works facility that operated throughout World War II.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics purchased the land in 1956 to build a test reactor, to support atomic aircraft studies being conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission. Although that concept was shelved before construction of the reactor was completed, President Kennedy breathed new life into the facility by supporting a national nuclear rocket program in May 1961, a month before the Plum Brook reactor was started up (also known as “taken critical”) for the first time.

During its operations, the 60-megawatt Plum Brook Reactor conducted over 70 experiments, most of which studied the effects of radiation on various materials. After the materials were irradiated in the reactor, they were transferred to the Hot Laboratory where they could be remotely examined, using manipulator arms that reached into a series of seven test cells.

The nation's nuclear rocket program was cancelled during the post-Apollo budget cuts. The reactor was closed down in 1973 and was placed into a “safe dry storage” mode, during which it was monitored by NASA until initial decommissioning work began in 1998.

Check out this report on Plum Brook’s Nuclear facilities. Of special interest for our resident librarian is the image from the 1960s of the librarians. The caption reads: “Image 84: Librarians manage files and books in the reactor library. Massive amounts of documentation were required to maintain licensing by the AEC. Unfortunately, many of these documents, including the experiment logs, photographs, and sponsor names, were destroyed. (1961) (NASA C–1961–56372)”

Mark Bowles book on the subject: Science in Flux

Oh and there is a film—Of Ashes and Atoms Oh! Look who is the narrator of this little ditty – Hagan’s own Kate Mulgrew!







New life for the Plum Brook facility... enter the Greater Cleveland Partnership

From Crain’s: Port Authority to help revamp NASA campus

NASA Glenn worked with the Greater Cleveland Partnership to mount an aggressive internal campaign to persuade NASA officials and private contractors to take another look at Plum Brook.  Team NEO, Ohio’s elected officials and many others assisted in the efforts.  The State of Ohio played a key role.  Former Lt. Gov Bruce Johnson provided a $5 million grant to help with the facility upgrades and $200K to conduct a land-use study of Plum Brook’s 6,400 acres.

Governor Strickland and Lt. Governor Fisher have both committed their support for Plum Brook. Speaker Husted and Senate President Harris have also expressed support.

Once the Greater Cleveland Partnership got contractors to visit Plum Brook, the situation changed.
In the end, the contract that originally was meant for Houston was awarded to Plum Brook.  The Greater Cleveland Partnership anticipates that this is just the first of many projects that will the beginning for Plum Brook. (Emphasis mine)

With the contract announced in March 2007, came a $63 million to upgrade the Plum Brook facilities, making it even more viable for future uses – NASA, Defense, and private sector work will follow.  This is a legacy project – it will mean jobs and a new life for NASA Glenn for the next 20 years.  It also means that Ohio has a new opportunity to become one of the nation’s premier aerospace states.

Next steps: a runway for Plum Brook and Erie County.
The Greater Cleveland Partnership is working with the State of Ohio, the Ohio National Guard, the Cuyahoga and Erie Counties, and Members of Congress to determine how to obtain a runway for Plum Brook.  A runway at Plum Brook would make a good facility even better and more accessible.

Why not the Huron Joint Port Authority? I learned this at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority site: Revenue Bond Territory is any county in the State of Ohio. So I guess that when coal companies in Southern Ohio come calling in Cuyahoga County, our taxes could help spur those mining operations or some such??? Can someone please explain this to me?


OK, well I have a lot to learn about Port Authorities in Ohio. Here’s a primer for other interested parties. Time to bone up since our Port Authority is getting heavily into the mix and making the whole picture more complicated than Halliburton’s plans for world domination or the rebuilding plans for New Orleans! Ed Hauser is the watchdog and even his questions go unanswered. How will this project in Erie County benefit Cuyahoga County taxpayers? I am just having a bit of trouble connecting the dots.

But, I digress - back to birds… Right at the decommissioned Plum Brook Station is the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a National Wildlife Research Center.  Wow! Here’s a study of how to “control” these nuisance birds. Apparently this happens all the time. Here’s another that will get your goose. The newsletter for the National Damage Control Association from 1998 offers a perspective. A spokebird for avian species is quoted as saying, “Hey, you, get offa my cloud…”  You think protecting birds at Dike 14 is an issue?!? If we put these (as you call them, ZM) “bird grinders” in the lake, we may indeed lose a few more feathered friends. I wonder how many birds will be ground up this weekend at Burke Lakefront Airport during the National Air Show.


Well, it has been an interesting tour of Northern Ohio this morning. I welcome your reactions nuclear or otherwise…

Good one

  Good one Susan.  I am just a kiddie librarian, so I can't comment on anything.  And destroying documents...well, online censorship is alive and well among my colleagues.

 In another life, I worked at a bird observatory--Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.  I don't think wind turbines are more destructive to birds and bats than tall glass buildings and airports.

I don't have the science to prove it, but Manomet might.  I also think that good design solves problems.  

Western Lake Erie "Bird Grinder" Study

I received a copy of this 104 page document from a friend.  I have yet to read it, but I thought I would put it out  and available for comment, just in case you are in need of a little light reading...


Wind turbines make bat lungs explode

Wind turbines make bat lungs explode news service
17:00 25 August 2008
Catherine Brahic

"Beware: exploding lungs" is not a sign one would expect to see at a wind farm. But a new study suggests this is the main reason bats die in large numbers around wind turbines.

The risk that wind turbines pose to birds is well known and has dogged debates over wind energy. In fact, several studies have suggested the risk to bats is greater. In May 2007, the US National Research Council published the results of a survey of US wind farms showing that two bat species accounted for 60% of winged animals killed. Migrating birds, meanwhile, appear to steer clear of the turbines.

Why bats - who echolocate moving objects - are killed by turbines has remained a mystery until now. The research council thought the high-frequency noise from the turbines' gears and blades could be disrupting the bats' echolocation systems.

In fact, a new study shows that the moving blades cause a drop in pressure that makes the delicate lungs of bats suddenly expand, bursting the tissue's blood vessels. This is known as a barotrauma, and is well-known to scuba divers.

"While searching for bat carcasses under wind turbines, we noticed that many of the carcasses had no external injuries or no visible cause of death," says Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary in Canada .

Internal injuries
Baerwald and colleagues collected 188 dead bats from wind farms across southern Alberta , and determined their cause of death. They found that 90% of the bats had signs of internal haemorrhaging, but only half showed any signs of direct contact with the windmill blades. Only 8% had signs of external injuries but no internal injuries.

The movement of wind-turbine blades creates a vortex of lower air pressure around the blade tips similar to the vortex at the tip of aeroplane wings. Others have suggested that this could be lethal to bats, but until now no-one had carried out necropsies to verify the theory.

Baerwald and her colleagues believe that birds do not suffer the same fate as bats - the majority of birds are killed by direct contact with the blades - because their lungs are more rigid than those of bats and therefore more resistant to sudden changes in pressure.

Bats eat nocturnal insects including agricultural pests, so if wind turbines affected their population levels, this could affect the rest of the local ecosystems. And the effects could even be international. "The species being killed are migrants," says Baerwald. "If bats are killed in Canada that could have consequences for ecosystems as far away as Mexico ."

Windy day
One solution could be to increase the minimum wind speed needed to set the blades in motion. Most bats are more active in low wind.

The study was funded by a number of bat conservation groups together with energy companies with a financial interest in wind energy, such as Shell Canada and Alberta Wind Energy.

Journal reference: Current Biology (vol 18 p R696)