Wind farms: love ’em or hate ’em?

I promised one of my commentators that I’d write a blog post about wind farms. This is perhaps against my better judgement since there is sure to be a heated discussion in the comments but I am not usually one to shy away from a good debate.  So here goes.

Why do wind farms generate so much controversy? They are just another source of power with which to light our homes and power our electronic devices. They are renewable and do not emit any greenhouse gases. There are no ongoing fuel costs and they do not pollute the air. They can be deployed on a very small scale like these domestic-sized turbines. They support jobs and contribute to GDP. What’s not to like?

Wind turbines need wind to produce electricity. No wind = no power and there will be times when there is no wind. Some people complain that they are noisy. They have also been known to kill birds that fly into the blades. Some people also complain that they ruin the appearance of the countryside. I disagree with this. I have seen lots of wind farms in my travels around the UK and I think they look beautiful. There is something graceful about them. Perhaps on a deeper level I also see clever ingenuity and resourcefulness in them. Wind is, after all, an unlimited and free resource.

On the issue of bird fatalities, my views align with those of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which is in support of wind farms. They say:

 Climate change poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife, and the RSPB recognises the essential role of renewable energy in addressing this problem.

This is echoed by other conservation groups around the world. The Bat Conservation Society supports well-sited wind farms. The American Bird Conservancy has a similar policy. Climate change aside, the biggest threat to birds is actually the domestic cat.

Some people blame illnesses on wind farms. This is known as wind turbine syndrome and it is nonsense.  Simon Chapman from the University of Sydney has been collecting a list of these illnesses and they include accelerated ageing, angina, back pain, dog behavioural problems, sleep disturbance, skin cancer and pretty much every ailment you can possibly think of.  It is actually a very funny list to read. The cartoonist at Crikey has illustrated 121 of these illnesses in the following cartoon (which I think I’ve posted before but it is worth double-dipping for this one).

ResizedImage4641659-windturbine-apocalypse-1
source: http://tobacco.health.usyd.edu.au/other-research/

So, dear readers, I think I have been clear about what I think, but what do you think about wind turbines? Do you love them or hate them?