THE RHETORIC: Wind turbines are killing birds at an alarming rate.
THE REALITY: Wind power is far less harmful to wildlife than traditional energy sources it displaces, including to birds and their critical habitats. It is the only energy source without population-level impacts, such as climate change-related habitat loss.
No form of energy generation is free from impact and wind power is no exception. However, studies have shown wind energy’s impacts to be the lowest, as it emits no air or water pollution, requires no mining or drilling for fuel, uses no water in the generation of electricity, and creates no hazardous or radioactive waste requiring permanent storage, and yet is held to the highest environmental standards.
Based on preliminary analysis of data collected from 117 wind farms presented at the USFWS siting guidelines training webinar in April 2014, it is estimated that less than 220,000 birds collide with turbines annually at current installed wind energy capacity (60+ Gigawatts – enough to power the equivalent of over 15.5 million homes).
That pales in comparison to other sources of avian mortality like buildings (97-970 million a year), telecommunication towers (some estimate as high as 40-50 million), and oil and waste water pits at oil and gas production fields (2-3 million), among other causes.1,2
- Even with its relatively low impacts, the wind industry is held to a higher standard and does more to study, avoid, minimize, and mitigate any wildlife impacts than any other industry. Resulting conservation programs by wind developers save habitat and help protect birds.3