Wind turbines kill birds, I get it, but so do coal fired smoke stacks

Wind Farm

It’s hard to know sometimes when you hear from the naysayers of wind turbines if they are just coal lobbyists trying to find an angle to keep the coal industry polluting. If renewables cost matter then wind turbines are your go-to solution, personally I prefer the passive nature of solar energy but the price hasn’t reached the tipping point yet where it becomes a ‘no brainer’. Even though we are less than a decade away from this happening, wind turbines are here to stay and actually complement solar nicely. So what’s with all these bird deaths.

Birds have been flying through wind turbines since they began popping up and yet I am still hearing the same rhetoric surrounding the killing of birds. A typical wind turbine turns at around 15-20 revolutions a minute so you’ve got to be unlucky or dumb is you can’t get through the 1-2 second window before the next blade passes by. Of course if the wind is stronger then they turn faster, but what are birds doing flying around in bad weather anyway.

I suspect there are many more birds dying at the hands of playful cats than through the turbines of a wind generator and no one dare suggest we ban cats. So there must be a better way.

Of course there is that awful noise they make, it sounds a little like the wind but more constant and of course the best location for wind turbines is on the open plains where wind gathers speed and is unheeded by buildings. We know the country side is a quiet place and has a background noise reading at best 30 dB but the locals like it like that. You see they are desensitized to noise so they’ll hear something that is busy saving the planet. At 500 meters a wind turbine makes the equivalent noise of a refrigerator at around 40dB, so let’s assume they still have whisper quite iceboxes are not use to such noise. Personally I’d like to hear energy being generated by the wind because we all need constantly reminding its one of the best things for the planet right now. We cannot continue to live in excess.

Hepburn Wind farms took the sensible approach and involved the community directly and made it a co-op where you could profit from the venture. When you buy into a scheme and are making passive income its hard to complain, right?

Do we still have a problem?

Well apparently there is and although its probably not just the killing of innocent birds, but we should address that one and let the others bubble to the surface.

Have you ever been bird watching? Well the first thing you’ll be told is to be very, very quiet. That’s right noise scares birds, hmmm.

So what do we know in a wind farm the makes noise? Oh that’s right a wind turbine, but obviously not enough. Oh yeah it looks like we have too competing problems. So while attempting to keep the peace with us mere humans, we might find this method is detrimental to the bird population.

Typical bird scarers are delivered in the form of a loud booming sound eminating from an air cannon. But can we try something at a lower volume. Sadly birds hear within our hearing range of frequencies so ultrasonic is out. So if we warn the birds with noise we are likely to also warn the residents.

Its a sensitive issue and I’m clearly not going to solve this problem here but what I am trying to show is that all problems with some deep thought can be solved if there is someone who is passionate enough to solve them. I believe there is a solution but I am not passionate about birds or even mildly interested in reducing the noise emanating from wind turbines to go deep into this one, are you?

The best way to solve a problem is to learn about the subject first, Josh Kaufman suggests you can do this in the first 20 hours,  research all the stakeholders that have an ongoing interest in the problems and iterate solutions. Your first idea may not be the best. All this is made easier if you are passionate about the problem. Who knows, you might even become the first to solve those difficult problems, but you’ll never know unless you find the time to try.

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