Advocacy Groups Say 1,000 Wind Turbine Project Could Cause Eagle Deaths
Groups like the American Bird Conservancy and Biodiversity Conservation Alliance are willing to be allies to wind energy, but only when they don't believe that animals are at grave risk.
The two organizations voiced opposition this week to plans for a large wind facility in Wyoming that would include 1,000 turbines on an equal amount of private and federal properties. The Power Co. of Wyoming received initial approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project in 2012, but problems arose for the advocacy group when it learned that the wind farm operator filed an "eagle take" application, which, if approved, would protect Power Company of Wyoming LLC from responsibility for any eagle deaths caused by its turbines.
The groups say the 220,000-acre project could represent the first eagle take permit for a wind-energy facility. They lament the fact that it could be granted to a facility that would be capable of powering nearly 1 million homes.
The ABC and BCA voiced their concerns in a 15-page letter after they received a request for comment from the the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees much of the property where the turbines could wind up. The ABC and BCA believe the farms could kill 46 to 64 golden eagles per year.
"ABC and BCA support the development of renewable energy resources such as wind, but it has to be done responsibly," Dr. Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of ABC's Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign. "The serious gaps in data and key information surrounding both the project and the proposed permit make it impossible to conclude that appropriate protections for eagles are being followed under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act."
The Department of Interior plans on beginning an analysis of the Chokecherry permit in April, while the Sierra Madre portion's analysis should be complete in July.
"Sufficient, definitive and long-term data simply does not exist to assure this colossal wind farm will not severely impact eagle and other bird populations in this important wildlife area," BCA's Wild Species program director Duane Short said. "In fact, the data that do exist suggests just the opposite—that significant impacts will occur."
The groups would like to see a pilot program for the take permits with much smaller wind projects. Chokecherry and Sierra Madre are slated to generate 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of energy.
The letter from the ABC and BCA also suggests that BLM should move turbine arrays away from rims and canyon walls, where raptors might gather.
"The proposed 50-meter setback is inadequate," the groups wrote. "Eagle prey areas should also be avoided."
The American Wind Energy Association previously estimated that less than 2 percent of human-caused eagle fatalities are caused by “modern wind facilities.” In December, the U.S. Department of Interior extended the 2009 eagle permitting rule from five years to 30 years.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban the sale of new cars in California that run only on gasoline by the year 2035. The bid to reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis would make California the first state to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, according to POLITICO.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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