Saturday, July 25, 2009

Where the wild things are

In SEWTHA, I included, as a joke, a map titled "Where the wild things are". The map shows in white the areas within 2km of human habitation (and thus of course excluded from wind farm development). It shows in black the areas that are more than 2km away from human habitation; these areas are thus tranquil, and also inappropriate places for wind farms. Wind farm development is to be encouraged in all other areas on the map.
Some readers have failed to understand my joke; that amuses me.
What's even funnier is the map produced by the RSPB, "to ease conflict between wind farms and wildlife" (October 2006).
This image shows their map, and the painfully funny thing is how similar its message is to my joke-map's. Almost every good location for wind in Scotland is excluded! - Almost all the islands are given a "sensitivity rating" of "4 high" (the maximum), with the exception of the single island of Jura, which is mainly judged "medium"; most of the highlands are also "high sensitivity". The only really promising locations for wind that squeak through below "medium sensitivity" are the Mull of Kintyre and the southern coast from Glasgow to Stranraer.
How is this map meant to relate to last week's RSPB announcement that the Renewable revolution is overdue?


DanH said...

The joke is, of course, a cracker. But it might be worth accompanying it here with a reminder of what you propose as serious principles for siting wind turbines.

Relating to the RSPB-specific map, I note there's some new and quantitative information about the effects of wind turbines on birds:
Sovacool, 2009, Energy Policy 37:2241-2248, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2009.02.011.

Unknown said...

Many birds probably seek out windy spots so they can soar on the updrafts. Perhaps it would be better to try and work out how to site and mark turbines so they can share sites with birds while minimising deaths. Does positioning turbines further back on a ridge help? Does the clearance between the blades and the ground matter? Would lights on the blades warn any birds away? Would stringing fairy-lights between the blade tips help?

Andrew Smith-Gibbs said...

For more black humour in a similar vein, check out the Natural England consultation on wind farms - according to that document, wind turbines should not be situated on hill tops. Or other windy places. Best place would be a quiet tree-filled valley, apparently.

Surely it's occurred to someone there that unless we slash our carbon emissions, there won't be much recognisable Natural England left to protect, and few of our native bird species will have a suitable ecosystem here to support them? And that onshore wind turbines are the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to do that, in parallel with the basic energy efficiency measures?