By Mark Halper
Posting in Energy
The red-throated loon likes to eat fish, frogs and insects. It might swallow up the world's largest wind farm, if a British environmental group prevails.
The London Array project in the Thames Estuary would generate a gigawatt of power if fully completed. But the discovery of thousands of red-throated loons on the site could force cancellation of the project’s second phase and knock out 370 megawatts of capacity, British website businessGreen reported.
The first phase of construction began in March, and is expected to deliver about 630 megawatts when it comes online next year. The projects backers, Danish energy company Dong Energy, German utility E.On, and Abu Dhabi renewable energy firm Masdar, are targeting a 2015 completion date for the entire project, when the Array would deliver electricity to 750,000 homes- about a quarter of the London area. The backers have estimated that the wind turbines will eliminate 1.4 million tons of CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuel power.
But with the discovery of about 5,000 red-throated loons, London Array must now secure permission from a group called Natural England to proceed with the second phase. The red-throated loon is a 2-foot aquatic bird that resembles a short-necked duck with an upturned bill. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has spotted a recent population decline, and placed the species on its “Amber” list, giving it a moderate conservation watch but not considering it “globally threatened.”
Project director Richard Rigg told businessGreen, “I don't think anyone expected the number of red-throated divers that we found.”
"We have a grid connection date of October 2015 with National Grid, and on that basis we will need to make a decision next year," he said. "The risk to that project is the red-throated diver. The question, quite simply, is what can we build, if anything." (Loons are called divers in the UK).
Whether phase 2 goes ahead, London Array’s capacity would trump the size of the world’s largest operating wind farm – the Thanet Offshore Windfarm off Britain’s southeast coast, which has a capacity of 300 megawatts. It opened a year ago, with 100 380-foot high turbines housing 144-foot blades.
Can you imagine this sort of ojbection happening in China, where regulators have been known to turn a blind eye to environmental hazards, even in the solar and wind business? Beijing probably thinks the whole controversy is loony.
Photos: Top, Wikimedia/David Karnåa. Bottom, Jamie Cook
More reports on not-so-green green:
- The dirty side of solar
- It's a seagull! It's a sail! It's a pylon!
- When loss is more
- Pretty in pylon
- My beautiful transmission tower
Oct 5, 2011
I have to ask... Why is it ok to kill basically everything on planet earth, when we're using fossil fuels? Yet people are so worried about a specific species of birds when we're doing something to help everybody else? Are people really trying to save the birds from getting injured in the wind farm? Or are they just trying to keep us burning stuff for fuel?
OK, granted, I don't drive around the world looking at wind farms, but I have seen two wind farms while on vacation in Hawaii. One wind farm was in Maui..there were about a dozen windmills sitting on the west side (the windward side) of the island, going up the mountain...and for the entire week I was there, I only saw one or two of those things actually spinning...and they weren't spinning very fast mind you... Earlier this year, I was on the North Shore of Oahu and there was another small wind farm with about 10-15 windmills...and for the entire week I was there, I never saw any of those windmills spinning...so from the two instances of wind farms that *I* have seen personally, they really don't do very much...but you wanna know what they *REALLY* did? They Looked Ugly 100% of the time! I can't imagine living near those things and having to be constantly barraged by the ugly looking things...
Why is it okay for industry to take over large areas of our sea to generate energy ?. . Our oceans are already under threat from climate change and man's activites. Now we are about to hit marine life with a double whammy by industrialising UK's coastal areas to satisfy our insatiable need for energy. Environmentalists are right to be wary of this new attempt by big business to take over more of the earth's resources. The UK has the laxest permitting regime for offshore wind in the EU. Check out the amount of offshore wind permitted in UK' s coastal waters compared with that permitted in Germany, DK, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain , France etc. Wildlife protection in other countries seems to be much more effective.. .
Wind generators have been redesigned to reduce bird kill. It is important to develope other ways to generate power, it is also important to make sure this is done with the least impact on the environment. This should not be an either or problem and people really need to understand the impact of reducing a population of birds that are in the food chain. An example of the impact on the environment by bees is instructive in showing how much we depend on the acts of the bees. Bees are an important pollinator and domestic bees are also used to pollinate crops and orchards. If bees die out then the food we eat is endangered. There is a problem with bee colony collapse, a large segment of the domestic bees have died for reasons not understood. The good news is that bees seem to do better in an urban invironment than agricultural uses. In this windmill case, birds eat a lot of insects that would eat more crops and reduce yields of those crops. If too many birds were killed in the rush for cheap power and we have to spend more money on pest control and subsequently more for the food we eat, then the real cost of wind generated power is higher than just the power produced. I am not for or against this wind farm, I just want people to understand that things are not as simple as they appear on the surface and we all should be alert for unintended consequences.
They do not say that it is any threat at all to this loon so why not go ahead and connect? Seems kind of silly to state the title as threatening an endangered specie and then not even posting what the type of threat is.
I think the environmental impact of the wind farm will be significantly less than an oil spill such as the one BP was responsible for on the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2010. Based on other studies there have been reasonably low impact on bird habitats with the installation of wind farms. By contrast tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of birds, fish and other animals and plants were killed and will continue to be affected for many years into the future by the 2010 oil spill, not to mention the others that have and will happen. Compare this with the disaster of the damaged Japanese nuclear facility or Chernobyl and the long term effects to all forms of life in those regions and I think that anyone can see that the relative risk vs. reward of a wind farm gives significant reasons to choose the wind farm. I think that if they could answer for themselves even the Loons would choose the wind farm alternative. We should be thinking about how our actions affect the environment that we share with all life on the planet, but we should also use common sense to promote the use of technologies and methods that will have a net positive benefit when replacing or reducing the requirement for the established.
The turbines you saw in Hawaii were abandoned in place after less that 20 years in operation. Like most wind farms, they never made enough electricy to pay for themselves.
We put screens on home fans to keep small children and drunken adult males from sticking their hands in the blades. I realize it adds to the cost, but why not put them on jet engines and wind farms. Or, perhaps, there is some kind of device that makes a noise only birds can hear - like the tiny scoops you put on car bumpers to keep deer from running out in the road. Maybe have some Owl-like scare crows. Seriously, how hard is it to keep them away. Never heard of an animal dying from solar panels... We also need a President who would allow foreign skimmers in to help clean up the mess before taking two months to let it spill into the Gulf and on to the shores. Building nuclear facilities on fault lines or near oceans subject to sunamis isn't very smart either. We shouldn't rush in to any changes without thinking about every possible thing that could go wrong first. If a device could be created to generate electricity from flies, mosquitos, fleas, ticks, and gnats... it would get my vote.
The suction generated in front of a jet engine may be explained mathematically, but other than that it is beyond human comprehension until you see an engine suck a guy off the deck of an aircraft carrier who was standing near (not in front of) the engine. He was behind and to one side and got sucked in like a bug. He survived because a harness he was wearing caught on an engine component forward of the turbine blades, which wreaked havoc with his hands and head. If you could somehow place a screen in front of the engine, which did not get sucked in at first, the passage of air would heat it up pretty quickly (this is why turbine blades are all hollow), and it would either melt or expand so much that it would break the engine cowling (cover) apart. The reason jet engines have to warm up for at least 5 minutes before the pilot can move the jet is so that he can "grow the engine" (have the cylindrical component of the engine expand) before the turbine blades expand lengthwise and slice the engine apart.
Do yourself a favor and read up on Maritime law, specifically the Jones Act. This is internationally observed and not much we can really do about it without messing up the entire world's authority on their own home ports!
@Maratime(sp) law - Bush bypassed it to let foreign ships in to help with Katrina within 3 days - it would have been sooner but the Governor of Louisiana was blocking all rescue attempts until Bush finally went over her head. The Jones Act was written to let Union workers control shipping and shipbuilding in the U.S. and U.S. ports, but they didn't have the equipment to handle oil spills and Obama was too afraid to show any leadership qualities or have to make a decision that might offend his base.