Driving to Brugge last weekend really had me in awe of the beautiful French landscapes in the Champagne region. I was also mesmerized by the number of windfarms that we passed by at the same time – I found them so majestic and ethereal, even as a symbol of optimism, but I wondered why they weren’t utilized more heavily in North America. It is efficient, clean, affordable and has a lot of potential all over the world. After some research I was shocked to find out the primary reason for the objection of wind turbines is aesthetics – people think they’re ugly.
Coastal regions which are prime placement grounds for these high-influence energy producing machines are being rejected by developers who don’t want the landscapes ruined, which would decrease their property values. Donald Trump recently famously scolded the Scottish government for installing wind turbines in an area recently purchased for development (see clip below).
But, to me, the benefits outweigh the consequences. The key arguments against turbines, beside the “ugliness” factor is the harm they cause to wildlife, which I can understand, if there have not already been improvements made to prevent this.
Latticework blades, used in older models of the turbines, attracts large birds, because the frame makes for an excellent perch. Large birds like raptors are drawn to the blades, and collision rates are high as a result.
The machine also has a low surface area, because less surface area means the blades have to spin faster to turn the electricity-generating turbines. The faster the blades spin, the more dangerous they are to birds flying near them. It’s unlikely that a bird that finds itself in the vicinity of the blades could ever make it through when they’re spinning so fast.
Turbine blades are now solid, meaning no lattice structure to attract birds looking to perch. Also, the blades’ surface area is much larger, so they don’t have to spin as fast to generate power. Slower-moving blades mean fewer bird collisions. Turbines are also reviewed for bird-friendly placement, which is away from migratory pathways, with a growing trend on offshore wind farms which have fewer bird collisions than land-based farms. Just to put things in perspective below is a graph outlining the main causes of bird fatalities, of which wind turbines barely even chart, and windows being a bird’s primary threat:
Activist groups also site noise as a complaint, however, taking the perspective offered in the following clip, may prove to be doubtful.
I was pleased to learn that, despite the opposition, the Canadian Wind Energy Association outlined a future strategy for wind energy that would reach a capacity of 55,000 MW by 2025, fulfilling 20% of our energy needs. The plan could create over 50,000 jobs and represent around $165 million and would make Canada a major player in the wind power sector and would save an estimated 17 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.