The good folks at CleanTechnica have embarked on a worthy project that deserves all the praise and support we the digital people can muster — what they’re calling “a comprehensive resource page for all things wind.” (They plan to do the same for other renewable energy sources in the future.)
Much of this stuff is available somewhere else on the Web, but there’s a quiet sort of power to assembling it together in a single go-to list. For some reason, I’m always particularly impressed by the cross-referencing of new and cumulative capacity stats for renewables. In 2010, for example, 38,265 megawatts (MW) of new wind power was added to grids worldwide, which if you scroll down just a bit you’ll discover is roughly equal to all the wind power there was in the world in 2003 (39,431 MW). And as CleanTechnica’s Zachary Shahan notes, “much more is expected from the coming years.” This is still just prelude to the full-scale global cleantech boom. Exciting times.
CleanTechnica’s own ambitions are equally impressive: “Eventually, we’d like this page and others like it to be one-stop shops for everything you might want to know about these technologies. Of course, to make them so, I think it would be helpful if more members of the CleanTechnica community joined in the process. Drop comments below for corrections or additional info and let me know if you want to be even more involved.”
With even bigger boom times to come for wind and other renewables, this is a project whose time has definitely come. There are, as I said, lots of information sources out there, but finding authoritative information from a single trustworthy source that can’t be dismissed as a vested interest — this is absolutely critical. Particularly on the subject of wind power, which falls victim to ferocious, NIMBY-driven misinformation campaigns almost anywhere it booms.
One of the most prevalent of these is the myth that wind turbines are ferocious bird-killing machines. While it's true that a turbine's spinning blades do sometimes clip the odd bird, wind turbines are actually several orders of magnitude less deadly to our avian friends than office buildings and those voracious bird killers known as domestic cats. Indeed feline pets kill so many more birds than wind turbines that one dark-humored renewable energy exec once snarkily suggested to me that if dead birds were such an intolerable scourge that we'd risk our clean energy future to avoid them, then what we should be advocating is the construction of many more wind farms — and into the whirling blades, bird lovers could pitch stray cats in sufficient numbers that their net impact on bird populations would be reduced to zero.
(Please note that I'm not actually advocating a forced domestic cat euthanization program, just underscoring the thin and fact-deficient logic of the anti-turbine crowd.)
In any case, here’s my note for CleanTechnica's suggestion box: the site's wind energy factsheet needs an appendix that collates all the top myths about wind power and links to peer-reviewed science and authoritative government studies worldwide.
This is top of mind for me because I was just in Ontario for a couple of speaking engagements, and the backlash against the province’s wind boom (a wind boom that is a direct result of North America’s best renewable energy legislation, a copy of Germany’s feed-in tariff) is in full swing.
Here’s a short film by Mitch Haigh, a student at eastern Ontario's Loyalist College, that offers a fairly concise, community hall-level picture of the battleground in one of the most hotly contested new sites for large-scale wind, Prince Edward County on the shores of Lake Ontario:
The real takeaway from Haigh’s film, though, is just how far this misinformation travels without the slightest recourse to the real, demonstrable facts of the case. Stick with the film all the way through, and you’ll follow along as the filmmaker visits a fully functioning, grid-connected wind turbine on the lakefront in downtown Toronto. This is the same turbine that a Prince Edward County anti-wind activist had insisted, earlier in the film, wasn’t actually making electricity and contained a gas engine that kept its blades spinning.
You would think that the 197 gigawatts of wind power worldwide, including on- and offshore wind farms a decade old in some of the most stringent environmental and health jurisdictions on earth — Germany and Denmark, for example — not to mention the ruling of Ontario’s own chief medical officer and a multinational review of the scientific literature would, taken together, be enough to suggest that the general case for the health and safety of wind power has been much made. (Particularly when you compare this track record against the known mass killers called coal-fired power plants.) You’d be wrong.
So kudos again, CleanTechnica, for trying to collate all the info out there. Don’t forget to debunk the great bird-slaughter myth. It’s a pervasive one, I can assure you.
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