Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bleeding-Edge Technology

California's wind farms are killing thousands of birds every year. What's to be done? Here's one solution:

If environmentalists and state officials have their way, the towering windmills that dot the Altamont Pass will be replaced and moved to prevent the killing of thousands of birds annually, including species protected under federal and state laws.

In an effort to curtail the carnage, they say the turbines -- which provide one-third of California's wind power -- should be newer, taller models and be concentrated on the leeward side of the hills.
Yeah, they could do that. Or they could encase the existing turbines in a protective cage, by using some version of this breakthrough technology.

I wonder which solution would be cheaper and more effective?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems like it would be cheaper to do the old enclosed fan thing to me, too. Chicken wire is pretty damned cheap. Certainly cheaper than making those damned things taller. What, birds don't fly that high, too? DUH.

When I lived in the Bay Area, I used to drive through that pass all the time. It never occurred to me that birds might be getting hurt...until I saw one perched on a still blade. After being in the AF, I kinda had some familiarity with how high-speed propellers and birds just didn't mix, and the dim bulb started burning a bit brighter.

Before that, I must admit that I was guilty of seeing the benefits of harnessing the wind for power, without considering what it would do to birds or any other wildlife. My main complaint was that the windmill farms were kind of an eyesore.