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clean energy

Expanding wind power threatens bats and birds

Published torsdag 10 november 2011 kl 17.54
Montage of wind turbines and birds. If Sweden expands its wind farms, 10 times as many bats and birds could die each year. Photo: Scanpix.

Wind power could become a threat to Swedish bats, reports news agency TT citing new research on the subject, commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection and Energy Agencies.

If Sweden expands its wind turbines as the center-right government coalition hopes, researchers estimate that 100,000 bats and birds will die by the blades each year.

Jens Rydell, a bat researcher with Lund University, tells news agency TT that this could pose a danger to some of the smaller bat populations.

The report was made by going through all the research done elsewhere in Europe and North America that looks at how wind power affects animals that fly.

However, a lot depends on where the turbines are placed. By avoiding wet lands, coastal areas, valleys and ridges – places that often attract bats and birds, the impact can be minimized.

Another way to save more bats from death by blade is to turn off the turbines on late summer nights, when bats like to gather round the towers to hunt for insects. Rydell says the wind is often so light at this time that economic losses are negligible.

As of May this year, there were 1,661 wind turbines in Sweden. In all, they kill roughly 9,000 bats and birds combined a year.

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