windfarms and bats

Subject: windfarms and bats
From: Paul Burcher <>
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 2010 08:34:14 +1100
Thought I might have a go at being devil's advocate and offer another perspective.  Yes wind farms are bad things - they kill birds and bats, are noisy (impacting on people's health) and are very ugly. There are also a lot of questions to be answered over their efficacy in providing energy.  But are they the lesser (or least) of evils?  They are usually constructed in farmland/grazing areas that are highly modified habitats which don't support a wide range of species, the previously occurring woodlands and native grasslands having been replaced by pasture grasses and/or crops. I know there are exceptions such as NW Tasmania where they are a threat to Wedge-tailed eagles and overseas there are many examples of migratory birds being affected .  The business as usual energy source (coal) is highly CO2 pollutive, especially brown coal. Mining of it often involves removal of bushland (albeit usually rehabilitated post-mining) and in some areas threats to the water table.  I wonder how much habitat is lost or mortality caused per kilowatt hour of energy produced by the respective industries?  What impacts, including mining for their manufacture,  would huge solar arrays have?

Disclaimer:  I work as a consultant to coal companies but have shares in wind farm companies via my super.

Sticking my head and waiting for the shots!


On 2/12/2010 7:57 AM, Stephen Ambrose wrote:
Some research papers have been published in the last few months which
demonstrate that significantly more insects are attracted to white and
light-grey turbines than those that are darker in colour. So if bats are
attracted to wind turbines to feed on these insects, they risk being killed
by wind turbines (either from barotrauma or by being struck by a moving

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde NSW

-----Original Message-----
From: m("","birding-aus-bounces");">
[m("","birding-aus-bounces");">] On Behalf Of Chris Corben
Sent: Thursday, 2 December 2010 7:36 AM
To: Stuart Cooney; Keith Brandwood; m("","birding-aus");">
Subject: windfarms and bats

Hi all

Unlike the US, however, not many of our bats  migratory, which are the type

of bats most impacted by wind turbines in that country.  Therefore the 
anticipated impact is considered to be smaller on most species.
You could also argue that the bats most affected in the USA are 
tree-roosting bats. There are lots of those in Australia, and the Southern 
Bent-wing Bat is not one of them. The biggest danger is that bats are 
attracted to their deaths by wind turbines and there seems reason to think 
this is the case. Worryingly, no-one has any idea of the impact of bat kills

at turbines in terms of overall population damage. You would like to think 
that the desire for turbines would have generated all sorts of knowledge 
about bat population sizes and migration routes, but overall it hasn't.

If the turbines are being built where their production rate is marginal, 
that is even more of a worry, because then there is much more resistance to 
simple changes which might reduce the problem. It has long been known that 
bat kills can be greatly reduced if the turbines are shut down at low wind 
speeds, but that can have a significant impact on energy production and 
profitability at marginal sites.

I used to like seeing wind turbines, but now they have become a serious 
blight on the landscape in the USA and parts of Europe. You would like to 
think that at least the proliferation of them will do something meaningful 
for energy needs, but there seems considerable doubt about that, too. The 
community needs to be vigilant that there is a nett benefit to such 
projects, and that it understands the real pros and cons, not just from the 
viewpoint of those few with most to gain. Fat chance, I fear...

Cheers, Chris.


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