If there is one alternative energy source that sparks my interest, it is wind power. Elegant, kinetic sculptures creating clean energy and local jobs.
From the Carbon Nation documentary:
Jobs that cannot be outsourced.
One of the best ways to create a sustainable future for our planet is to invest in sources of clean, renewable energy like wind. Wind energy isn’t just a clean alternative to the fossil fuels driving the climate crisis – it’s also an engine for job creation across the US.
What about the birds?
- A study finds painting windmill blades reduced bird fatalities by over 70 percent.
- Scientists are always looking for ways to reduce bird deaths from turbines.
- The emphasis on windmills’ threat to birds is politically charged.
Could a ridiculously simple change save birds from wind turbine-related deaths? Scientists in Norway have presented a 9-year study where they painted wind turbines a highly visible black and observed a 70 percent drop in bird deaths. In turn, this could remove one of the most stalwart critiques people have used to slow the spread of wind power technology.
In the new study, the researchers focus on “passive visual cues” that are easy for flying animals to internalize and act on. The researchers explain:“We tested the hypothesis that painting would increase the visibility of the blades, and that this would reduce fatality rates in situ, at the Smøla wind‐power plant in Norway, using a Before–After–Control–Impact approach employing fatality searches.”
If all the blades were painted black, the spinning turbine might still appear as “motion blur” that is not visibly distinctive enough to alert passing birds. So in this study, the researchers built on the example of previous findings and painted just one rotor on each turbine, which means the single black rotor spins with a frequency that keeps it visible instead of part of a blur.
How many are killed by wind turbines? According to US Fish and Wildlife:
Available data indicate that some regions are higher risk than others. Bird/turbine collisions in California are estimated to be an average 7.85 birds/turbine/year, higher than in the East (6.86 birds/turbines/year), the West (4.72 birds/turbine/year), and the Great Plains (2.92 birds/turbine/year).
A simple solution that can be administered during manufacturing or servicing that can solve this issue, reducing bird deaths.
Here are some Wind Energy Facts:
FACT: WIND ENERGY IS AFFORDABLE AND JUST MAKES ECONOMIC SENSE
When we pay for electricity, we typically pay per kilowatt hour. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), “onshore wind electricity costs have dropped by almost a quarter since 2010.” That means, on average, the cost of wind (per kilowatt hour) is about six cents (USD) around the globe. Alternatively, fossil fuels fall between $0.05 to $0.17 per kilowatt hour. But these market prices also often don’t reflect one big reality: the costs fossil fuels impose of our health and environment. And Big Polluters don’t foot the bill. We do. These costs of fossil fuels are what’s called “externalized costs” – basically costs that producers impose on someone else (in this case, the rest of society) instead of paying themselves. What are we talking about? We’re talking about everything from air pollution to tax dollars to rebuild communities to the human costs of hurricanes, droughts, and floods made worse by the climate crisis.
FACT: WIND ENERGY IS PUTTING PEOPLE TO WORK
Demand for wind power is growing, and that means the industry needs workers to help fulfill that demand. Between 2007 and 2017, global wind power capacity (or the maximum amount of power output of all the turbines in the world) grew by about 500 percent, or five times what is was. And the industry is expected to keep growing. In 2017, more than 1.15 million people were employed by the wind industry around the globe. That’s incredible!
In the US, wind turbine service technician is projected to be the second fastest-growing job in the nation through 2026, right behind solar PV installer. Better yet, these are blue-collar jobs that pay well; in 2017, an American wind turbine technician could expect to be paid $53,880 per year – or about $28 an hour.
FACT: WIND ENERGY IS A RELIABLE WAY TO POWER OUR WORLD
Combining wind with other renewables like solar or with battery storage in a flexible, smart grid design is a reliable way to keep the lights on in the twentyfirst century. In addition, there is more than enough wind to meet our electricity needs—and then some! In fact, by some estimates, wind could supply more than 40 times as much electricity as the world consumes today. Using multiple sources of clean energy and twenty-first century electricity management tools can often make wind just as reliable as dirty fossil fuels —with the added benefit that it doesn’t pollute the air or warm our climate. The right combination can provide around-the-clock power — even when the wind isn’t blowing. In fact, by adding more wind power and using the free fuel it provides, we’re making the entire grid more dependable, with energy coming from many diverse sources. Which is a good thing, because every power plant is vulnerable to disruption at some point or another from everything from storms to mechanical accidents and failures.
Next up will be Solar Power facts and resources.