Large wind turbines are popping up across the globe both on land and at sea. Wind energy is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy globally which is why it is important to analyze the potential impacts of its use. While turbines are generally found to be of limited concern, studies continue to find that birds and bats may face some of the greatest impacts.
Researchers continue to analyze the potential impact of turbines on non-human species, especially prior to wind farms going into construction. However, a recent study by Stirling University in the UK indicates that the analysis of the impact of small wind turbines is lacking. Micro-turbines are becoming increasingly prevalent across the United States, UK and Europe, but the impact on wildlife is often overlooked.
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology indicated that visual concerns of the placement of micro-turbines is often of importance, but not the potential impact on species, especially bats and birds. The study called for guidelines to be established in the UK in order to have micro-turbine development more readily analyzed to ensure lowered impacts, including studying the impact the turbines could have on wildlife similar to studies done for large turbines. While the study was performed in the UK and suggested changes for the UK, the authors did indicate similar issues are facing the rest of Europe and the United States.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Kirsty Park, stated: “Micro-turbines are fast becoming a common sight within the UK and elsewhere in Europe and the United States. However, in spite of the rapid growth in numbers, there has been little study of their possible impact on wildlife, which could include collisions of birds and bats with the turbines, or disturbance effects. This means the evidence-base upon which to establish any guidance relating to siting is very limited.”