The Other Side of Clean Energy
Even as the world is starting to put its weight behind clean sources of energy – primarily wind and solar – a curious, and frankly, disturbing aspect of the clean energy industry has been noticed in recent times. Wind and solar power plants are prodigious bird killers, it seems, and if capacities are to be increased significantly considering dwindling oil resources and the continued exponential rise in energy needs, something must be done to protect birds from dropping in and around them.
Cut down by wind turbines
By far the worst of the lot, wind turbines are estimated to kill anywhere between a hundred thousand to three hundred thousand birds each year. At almost a thousand birds a day, those are mind-boggling figures, and might even warrant an unfavorable comparison with deaths caused due to oil spills.
Burnt by solar panels
High capacity solar farms concentrate the heat from sunlight using a large number of mirrors, to an extent that the energy from the sunlight is magnified almost 500%. That's a frightening amount of heat, and unfortunate birds – and insects – that happen to stray over such set-ups get burnt almost instantly. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, one solar plant in the Mojave kills almost 30,000 birds a year due to such accidents.
Undoubtedly the capacity and numbers of both wind and solar plants are bound to increase over coming years. Agencies, entrepreneurs and conservationists must work together to viably address this problem, and particularly mind that such set-ups possibly avoid areas inhabited by threatened species.