Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin has taken a public stand against wind farms because they kill birds.
At a conference of his United Russia party, Mr. Putin singled out the renewable energy source for its “environmental risks” to his feathered friends.
“Windmills, which are so widespread in many European countries, seem to be an environmentally friendly kind (of energy), but in fact they kill birds,” Putin noted at the gathering.
“This is a real environmental problem.”
Either Mr. Putin is pandering to the Audubon Society electorate, or might just have some interest in making sure renewable energy companies don’t dip their quills in Gazprom’s giant ink well…
Critics have noted that Russia’s overdependence on gas has stifled renewable energy investments, despite the country’s many potential renewable resources.
In any case, his alarmist stance on bird deaths is way overblown.
Here’s a brief rundown of the various locales and surfaces where birds meet their ultimate demise (annual figures):
- Building windows: 976 million
- Feral cats: 500 million
- Pesticides: 72 million
- Car windshields: 60 million
- Oil and wastewater: 2 million
- 13-year old boys with pellet guns: 1.2 million (editor estimate; not verified)
- Wind farms: 33,000
Now, let’s go ahead and compare the damage done to the bird population versus the tragedies emerging from the oil and gas industries in recent memory…
The Exxon-Valdez disaster killed up to 270,000 birds, and this year’s BP spill destroyed thousands more in a matter of weeks.
So calling wind farms “environmental problems” for these bird deaths is like calling George W. Bush a peacemaker because he pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey…
The reoccurring boogey man in this argument is the Altamont Pass in California, the site of the world’s first wind farm. Its antiquated turbines have certainly killed their share of fowl — but mainly due to the small blades and low surface area of the outdated designs.
Turbine design has come a long way since some of the bloodier studies were first released, and designers have tweaked turbines to provide more surface area and bigger blades to cut down much of the birds’ exposure and risk.
Earlier this week, the largest wind-power company in the Altamont Pass agreed to replace thousands of turbines in an effort to stem unnecessary avian death.
So, Vlad… Instead of making bird-brained statements against a viable, clean energy technology, why not continue tweaking it to put both renewable energy advocates and animal rights activists on the same team again?
Much to the chagrin of fair-weather environmentalist Putin, and a few thousand unlucky geese, Russia is planning a considerable increase in its wind power capabilities.
While wind energy currently accounts for roughly one percent of power generation, under new plans it could increase to over four percent over the next 10 years.