It’s a good thing the unusually throaty, (AP says it’s Clint Eastwood meets grizzly bear) Christian Bale only had to deal with The Joker in The Dark Knight and not wind turbines. A new study released findings that wind turbines are responsible for causing the lungs of bats to explode; of the 188 dead bats, “they found that 90% of the bats had signs of internal hemorrhaging, but only half showed any signs of direct contact with the windmill blades.”
While this is surprising and a bit disturbing, it is nothing new. A 2007 report by the US National Research Council (NRC) found that wind turbines could have a significant impact on the population of two different species of bats. In a separate report, NRC reported that between 20,000 and 37,000 deaths of birds could be attributed to wind turbines.
Wind has other unintended consequences as well. Dr. Nina Pierpont refers to another downside of wind power as wind turbine syndrome. She claims,
[L]ow-frequency noise and vibration generated by wind machines can have an effect on the inner ear, triggering headaches; difficulty sleeping; tinnitus, or ringing in the ears; learning and mood disorders; panic attacks; irritability; disruption of equilibrium, concentration and memory; and childhood behavior problems.”
It gets worse – they’re often not very reliable. A Wall Street Journal article yesterday said that the turbines made by Suzlon Energy Ltd., the world’s fifth-largest wind- turbine maker by sales, cannot handle the wind and are cracking. This is not a new phenomenon. As this study shows, wind power reliability is a top concern for industry. And in Northern Ireland, a blade from a turbine fell off and cut through a family’s farmhouse while they sleeping. (Fortunately, no one was hurt.)
Then there’s the problem that wind is intermittent, producing electricity only about a third of the time. Can you imagine having a 1 in 3 shot that your TV or light switch turns on? This means that power plants are needed to provide electricity when the wind is not blowing. Also, the life expectancy of windmills is projected to be 20 years, which is about one fourth of the life a nuclear power plant. And by the way, nuclear power plants run 24/7.
And when the wind blows hard, those Indian turbines still don’t work. According to A.V. Dharmakrishnan, a finance director for an Indian-based power company Madras Cements, excessive wind vibrations force the turbines to run at a lower capacity and cost his company about $4 million a year. He alleged,
Turbines are not capable of producing electricity even when the wind is there.”
Remember when I said that wind power only produces electricity about one third of the time. Knock that down to one fourth of the time. Madras Cements reported that the capacity factor dropped from 37% in 2004 to 23% this year. Again, it’s worth mentioning that nuclear power generally operates above a 90% capacity factor.
So, riddle me this: How did wind proponents feel about the superior generating capacity of nuclear power?
They were blown away! But only ¼ of the time.