Marita Noon: Death by Renewables

Commentary by Marita Noon - “Even green projects impact their surrounding environment.” Green energy, specifically so-called renewables, has been sold to the American public as the answer to a host of crimes against the planet. 
     But, as Lex Berko points out in her post on Motherboard, “even green” has its downside. Biomass may be “renewable,” but burning it releases CO2. 
     Then, it’s expensive: “A 100% renewable-energy mix from in-state sources could cost up to five times more,” reports Wall Street Journal. .And, energy from wind and solar kills birds.
     Wind turbines chop up bald and golden eagles, and other endangered species, like a Cuisinart—the taller turbines with longer blades (which produce more energy, and, therefore, is where the trend is heading) have a predicted annual ten-fold mortality increase. 
     The authors of a new study on bird collision mortality at wind facilities concludes: “Given that we found evidence for increased bird mortality with increasing height of monopole turbines along with a move toward increasing turbine size, we argue that wildlife collision risk should be incorporated with energy efficiency considerations when evaluating the ‘greenness’ of alternative wind energy development options.” 
     If the Department of Energy were to meet its 2030 goal of having 20 percent of the nation’s electricity generated from wind, they project: “a mean annual mortality estimate of roughly 1.4 million birds.”
     Hundreds of acres of photovoltaic solar panels confuse migratory water birds,such as the “once-critically endangered brown pelican whose lifestyle involves fishing by diving into open water,” to veer miles out of their way to dive toward what they perceive are lakes or wetlands—only to die from “blunt force trauma.” At the largest solar thermal plant in the world, Ivanpah, owned by Brightsource Energy, the 170,000 reflecting mirrors—designed to “superheat liquid in boilers”—literally fries feathers. 
     The USA Today reports that the intense radiation—called solar flux—has singed some birds, melted feathers, and denatured the protein in their wings as they fly through the intense heat. Unable to fly, the injured birds drop out of the sky and die. Read full column