Millions of birds die due to wind turbines; What’s the truth [FACT CHECK]

Following US President Joe Biden’s administration announcing on Oct. 15, 2021 that a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along nearly the entire coastline of the country by 2025, the old debate that wind turbines lead to death of birds has come under focus again.

Soon after the announcement of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland at a wind power industry conference in Boston, several messages surfaced on Twitter with claims that the birds would be the worst affected if wind turbines are erected along the coastline in United States. Here are some:

 

FACT CHECK

Digiteye India has taken up the issue for fact checking in view of its impact on environment as several species of birds are at the verge of disappearance. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, cats are a bigger scourge to the overall bird community than wind turbines.

Its estimate shows the number of bird deaths at the paws of cats at 2.4 billion. Collisions from wind turbines on land killed a small fraction of birds in comparison to the damage that cats and glass buildings cause to the general bird population.

Land wind turbines were responsible for over 200,000 bird deaths while collisions from building glass are estimated to be responsible for nearly 600 million bird deaths, though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not provide estimates for deaths resulting from offshore wind turbines.

Our research shows that there is certainly a danger to birds due to tall wind turbines but the percentage of them causing the death of birds is far lower compared to the threat they face from cats and tall glass buildings in cities. Turbines kill birds at a rate that is 0.1% compared to the 624 million estimated birds killed by glass windows, and 0.03% compared to cats. See the report here.

The following Infograph shows the details.

Infographic: Wind Turbines Are Not Killing Fields for Birds | Statista

However, it’s true that tens of thousands of birds get killed by these giant turbines. Until recently, several efforts were made to find a way out. Already several scientific solutions gained currency in view of their simplicity and affordability. See the video here:

As wind turbines become more common in many countries including India, precautions to avoid bird deaths certainly go a long way as the renewable energy is the most viable solution to climate change.

Sensor technology

Recently, some sensor technology has been developed to slow or stop turbines when birds are found approaching. The AI-powered camera detection system called IdentiFlight is helping the wind energy industry become safer for protected birds since 2019.

IdentiFlight scans the sky in a 360-degree radius and can spot any object flying within one kilometer. Once it detects a flying object, the system uses artificial intelligence to analyze the image against 200 image attributes, before switching off wind turbines and protect the approaching birds. See the original study here.

Claim: Millions of birds die due to wind turbines.

Conclusion: Partly true but the percentage is far less than other factors which kill birds. New technologies to safeguard birds from turbines are successfully tested or being tested as the wind energy is the green future among renewable energy sources, especially when fossil fuels contribute to global warming and climate change.

Our rating: Misinterpretation —

About Gayathri Soora

Gayathri Soora has been a contributor to Digiteye.in with more than 9 years of experience as a reporter for Hyderabad-based online news websites. An avid observer of developments in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, she is our best bet for fact-checking news. She can be reached at: gayathri@digiteye.in

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