New wind turbines can damage thousands of endangered bird populations, RSPB says
According to the RSPB, wind farms that have been installed offshore to tackle climate change actually threaten thousands of endangered seabirds in the UK.
The bird organization says that new wind farms can be the “last nail in the box” for more than 1,000 birds in four of the most endangered species.
Many of these birds feed on fish on sandbanks, where developers prefer to build offshore wind turbines.
More than 15 British offshore wind farms have been proposed, which are generally more efficient than those on land, because stronger winds cause the turbines to run faster, which means that they generate more energy.
Wind energy is a renewable energy source and has a smaller impact on the environment than burning fossil fuels.
Offshore Wind Farm Burbo bank extension in the Bay of Liverpool on the west coast of the UK. New wind turbines are being installed as part of government plans to deliver more green energy, but their large blades can be deadly to feeding birds
Published in a report in Biological conservation, the charity has identified areas where the construction of wind farm infrastructure should be prohibited, such as sandbanks, where birds usually feed on small fish.
Using tracking data, charity scientists have created maps that identify the location of marine hot-spots for kittiwakes, guillemots, razors and shags, all of which are classified as Birds of Conservation Concern in the UK.
The maps identify the most important areas used by the birds at crucial moments during the breeding season and when they are looking for food for their young.
There is now a “vital need” to find out more about our seabirds, as decisions are being made regarding offshore wind farms and fishing activities, the charity says, and these maps can help in planning decisions.
“Wind farms need to be built where the sea is fairly shallow, sometimes it means they are built in areas intended for foraging,” said Gareth Cunningham, RSPB’s chief officer, The Telegraph.
“We need environmentally friendly installations. We have an emergency in biodiversity – we don’t want to make this worse if we address the climate emergency.
“We must deal with climate change, but we must ensure that the measures we take to tackle climate change are not the last nail in the coffin for seabirds.”
Guillemots standing on the rocks of Farne Islands in England
The blades on wind farms can kill birds while flying to their feeding places.
Even birds that navigate the huge swiveling blades are forced to make detours, which means that they need longer to return food for their nest chicks.
According to a study published in Current Biology by scientists from the University of Aberdeen, the seabird population declined by 70 percent in the last 50 years.
Factors such as pollution, predation by invasive species on chicks, environmental changes and the destruction of their habitat by human activities have made seabirds the most endangered bird group, the study said.
The British government announced last March that it wants to produce one third of British electricity via offshore wind energy by 2030.
Kittiwake, which resembles common seagulls, on the island of May off the coast of Scotland
The Offshore Wind Sector Partnership would mean that for the first time there would be more electricity from renewable energy sources than fossil fuels in the UK.
There are currently more than 15 offshore wind turbines in the development or proposal phase in the UK, including the East Anglia Array about 30 miles from the east coast, which is operational this year.
According to the International Energy Agency, installing wind turbines at offshore locations could provide more than enough clean energy to meet global electricity demand.
Replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources will be crucial to achieve the globally agreed goal set in the Paris Agreement to limit the average temperature rise this year to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
HOW DO WIND TURBINES WORK?
Wind turbines work on a simple principle – the energy in the wind revolves propeller-like blades around a rotor.
The rotor is connected to the main shaft, which rotates a generator to make electricity.
They work in contrast to a fan, instead of using electricity to make wind, such as a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity.
There are two main types of wind turbines that work on the same basic principle.
Offshore installations are larger and tend to create more energy and are often built in large groups, also called wind farms.
These deliver bulk capacity to the National Grid.