Ecological Costs &
Benefits of Wind Energy

Tatanka wind projectAlthough renewable energies such as wind power generally enjoy a well-deserved reputation for being environmentally friendly (there is no fuel to mine or to defend, no water required, and no waste to get rid of), some opponents of wind energy projects nevertheless include environmental costs of wind energy among their list of arguments. The environmental costs most often cited are habitat destruction/degradation from the project footprint and high rates of mortality of birds and bats that collide with the turbines.

Project footprints should be sited carefully and areas known or suspected to host sensitive species of plants or animals should be avoided. Although rigorous pre-development studies of potential impacts to birds and bats are often warranted (especially at this relatively early stage in the wind industry’s history), we do not believe that such studies should unduly delay the development of responsibly sited projects. Rather, a combination of thorough pre-development screening is best combined with carefully designed post-construction monitoring studies.

The following sites may be useful for learning more about the ecological benefits and costs of wind energy.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Partners in Flight
National Wind Coordinating Collaborative
Bat Conservation International
Tower Kill