Monday, December 10, 2007

Wind energy

I confess I was glad to see this article: All UK homes could be wind powered by 2020 yesterday as I was reading the news on My Yahoo.

Growing up in Amarillo, I remember when the first wind powered generator was put up in Bushland. It was a large 2 bladed turbine. Many times you drove by and the blades were either still or were gently turning as the wind blew. Eventually, more designs appeared nearby. And the Amarillo area has so much wind year round that it is not surprising that wind farms are being built in the area.

My grandfather bought farm and ranchland in the 1950's and 1960's. One of them is in an area where wind farms are going in. My first thoughts have been that I am eager to see these on my land. After all, wind does not produce carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases - it is a "clean" source of energy.

But I've been surprised to learn that wind energy is not being welcomed everywhere. I've tried to do some research. But . . . it is hard to fully believe information coming from a wind energy company's website. They do have a vested interested in promoting wind energy.

The main concern seems to be the deaths of birds and bats. And at one particular wind energy area, this has been a major problem. The problems at Altamont Pass have been widely reported. The combination of early wind turbine designs and its location on a pass which is also a major migratory route for predators have made it and wind energy controversial for those who love birds.

This article: Putting Wind's Impact on Birds into Perspective gives a bigger picture of the impact of wind farms on birds.

But I still don't have enough information. Are the newer designed wind turbines safer for birds? What elevation do migrating birds chose to fly? (I know migrating geese fly very high in the sky - I've seen them) For my own personal land - which birds will be affected? Most of the birds are ground birds - larks, sparrows, curlews, quail, etc. I don't think the Texas Panhandle has large populations of bats like we do here in Central Texas.

There are so many issues here: impact on wildlife, future energy needs, global warming, and even world peace. I'm naive - I don't want to believe that the only reason we have soldiers in Iraq is because of the oil found there. But . . . for many reasons, I believe it is important for our country to be able to provide for its own energy needs without relying on imported oil.

I also hear that we have foreign companies wanting to come in and build wind generators and run wind farms. Not to be negative to foreign investment, but with all the jobs that are migrating overseas, surely we have enough American companies working on wind energy.

Does wind energy need more regulation? Probably - we need things like site corridors, bird migration corridors.

But it is so easy to be negative against something. And if we don't change our energy consumption and production, we won't have enough energy in the future.

Complicated issue - no doubt, but I hope that all the groups interested in this issue can learn to work together for what is best for everyone - clean energy, environmentally safe, minimal impact on wildlife and the esthetic issues.

1 comment:

Bettye said...

My goodness, you have certainly given me a lot to think about with this one blog. And you know how much I need new material to chew on mentally. LOL