A wind farm on a mountain between Muros and Santa Comba


© Ian Berry / Magnum Photos


Although the popularity of on-shore wind power has been growing strongly in recent years, we cannot ignore some of its problems, such as the noise generated by the blades.
However, a research study in Lower Saxony between 2012 and 2014 on the noise generated by blade movement showed that, in fact, local residents found road traffic noise more annoying than that generated by turbines. In fact, 75% of the people who complained of the noise also opposed the construction of the wind farm, showing that the perceived noise level is evidently largely related to the degree of acceptance of the wind farm.
The number of birds killed increases due to collisions with turbines. However, there are other causes of bird deaths as well, including the presence of buildings, power lines or growing numbers of domestic cats. Of course, the location of the turbines is also significant: 75 golden eagles are killed every year by the 5,000 turbines in Altamont Pass, California.
Other concerns are linked to changes in the landscape, since some people might assume that “green” energy should also be imperceptible. Still, it’s unreasonable to seek energy sources having zero impact on nature because they simply do not exist. Instead, we should focus our efforts on creating sources having the least possible impact. Fossil fuels, for example, are 17 times more deadly than turbine blades. On the other side of the balance, we also need to consider the advantages that wind power offers, from job creation to less land use than photovoltaic to generate the same amount of power. And, turbines’ 20+ year lifespan, combined with the very low cost per kilowatt/hour makes wind a promising energy source.

Alberto Claudio Alvisi