“Where the quality of life goes down for the environment, the quality of life goes down for humans.”
– George Holland
It is genuinely a great idea to generate electrical power from a natural source of energy that is completely free of cost and help depending less on the fossil fuel energy generation that is quite expensive in many ways especially the environmental cost associated with it. However, using this turbine method for electricity generation is also not without environmental hazards and recently environmental movements are gaining strength and popularity among echo-friendly groups and individuals.
As compared to the fossil fuel plants the wind energy power plants have far less dangers to environment. However, the environmentalists have raised a number of concerns related to windmills such as the death of birds and bats, noise in the air and visual impact they make on the environment. Despite that the wind itself masks much of the sound produced by windmills, yet they are accused for making noise in the environment. The work is in progress by the engineers in the recent years on the designs of windmills that produce least noise while operating and the newer models of wind turbines are less noise making than the earlier ones. With the increased efficiency of new windmill turbines the wind is used more as a rotational torque than an acoustic power. New models of turbines have a useful feature of enhanced aerodynamics that use the mechanic of changing the width of the blade according to the flow of the wind such as “upwind” and “downwind.” In addition to these the positioning, siting and insulation, materials are also being used to minimize the effect of noise made by the turbines. Two major features of wind turbines generating noise in the air are gearbox rotation and mechanics of the system and the sound made by blades of the machine. The noise generation phenomenon has taken a form of aerodynamic concern and significance.
Aesthetics associated to windmill’s visual impact on the natural looks of the landscape is another concern of the environmental activists and scholars. Wind turbines are highly visible because of their large sizes and thus are said to distort the natural visualization of the landscape. Again the proper siting for the installation of the turbines can help reduce the bad visual impacts caused. One of the most effective and widely used technique to avoid the bad visual impact of the windmills is the less concentration of turbines installed in a single area. The newer models being efficient on operations and looks are also helpful. Most of the windmills are located on the private farmlands. An average of windmills farm can have 20 turbines and demands an area of at least one square kilometers yet the actual area covered by turbines will be 5%. Remaining land can be utilized for many other purposes. Such as farming and agricultural activities.
The people of the area in which the wind turbine is installed are also affected environmentally by the shadow flickering of turbines. That is when the blades of the turbine move in the sunshine they cause moving shadows on the nearby area of land, it changes the intensity an d flow of light depending upon the different time and seasons of the year.
Windmills are different from other power generation technologies for not producing any air emissions. The potential hazardous material is little quantity of lubricating oil, fluid insulations and hydraulic fluids. Thus there is far less soil, water and surface pollution associated with windmill power generation method. The potential interaction with the satellites and radars by wind turbines is another issue raised by the technical and scientific concerns. Windmills like all other power generating systems generate both the magnetic and electric fields.
The last but not the least and the most serious biological issue associated with the installation of windmill power generators is the death caused to birds and bats. Environmentalists and animal and wildlife agencies and associations have fought for the cause to precede it politically on policy-making forums. However, for years the wind turbines have been operating with least harm to the birds and animals in the area of their installation. The government and non-governmental associations have been working in the collaboration with each other conduct surveys and researches on this issue that how many birds and bats are actually killed by the installation of windmills and to what extent the turbines are really a threat to the lives of the birds and bats especially that recently have been projected as a species that is endangered to wipe out by the turbines. The line of Indiana bat is especially said to be engaged to an end by the installation of wind turbines in the area of Appalachian where the impact of wind turbine on the environment has gained a controversial popularity among rural and local community. A huge Windmill is going to be constructed at the top of the mountain of Appalachian to gain energy from the strong breezes of the town. However, there is a concern raised by a bat lover David Cowan who has always been caring for the bats have been a gray caver throughout his life and did not want any possibility to arise that would hurt rather than kill the bats in the area. A windmill will obviously cause the eradication of bats at a massive level slicing them by the huge blades. “Any energy development is going to have environmental impacts that are going to concern somebody” (John D. Echeverria, 1). The quote shows that Cowan is right in raising concern in the court.
Will it fail the fight for Indiana Bat? The divide among the environmentalists can save the one cause only either the energy or the decreasing line of Indiana bat. Endangered species need a handsome amount of attention from the state and communities as well. The environment provides power resources such as breezes to windmills; windmills shall not be destroying the beauties of an environment.
Another reason Cowan righteously brought the case to trial in the district court in Greenbelt as the first ever case of Species Endanger Act against wind power project. The presidential policy of double up of energy resources made the energy farms expand and enhance their capacity. The main concern of Cowan is the rare species of brown, grey Indiana bat line whose eight inches body weight is equivalent to putting three pennies together, with outstretched wings, declining in number by half as compared to in 1967. The fact that approximate 130,000 bats are at their life risk if the windmill is installed is acknowledged by both the parties. The defendant party is just giving a chance by saying “let us roll the dice and see what happens,” such approach does not comply with the Congress policies.
Some people argue that there are rare chances that Indiana bats are going to travel to the turbine as in summers 2005-6 a consultant tried to catch them by putting the nets around, but no Indiana was found at or near the site. Besides, there is no evidence on the killing of Indiana by tribune nationwide. They put forth that energy plant is environment-friendly and will provide with jobs in the area. The reason behind opposing the power project installation is the fact that Indiana bats in fall season travel from caves to forests to spend spring and summer and tend to fly by the turbines risking their lives.
This, however, a weak argument as it is quite clear that an enormous number of bats have been killed by the blades of the windmills around the country and concerns have tried to devise how the killings can be avoided or lessened.
Cowan is too sensitive to the issue of bat killings that he say “I think if the turbines kill one Indiana bat, that ought to end it,”
In conclusion, the endangered species need a handsome amount of attention from the state and communities. Any project of power plantation in the rural area is going to hurt some of the environmental features, the birds especially are the beauty of the environment, and if they get killed by the energy plantations, the eco-friendliness goes useless. For that reason, communities should stand guard to saving the natural beauties and species which are struggling to survive on Earth such as grey Indiana bats, whose line is getting shorter day by day on the planet.