The Johannesburg-based Endangered Wildlife Trust has taken steps to guide local wind energy farms on how to avoid the negative impacts of this growing renewable energy industry. Andrew Pearson, a senior field officer with the trust’s wildlife and energy program, said there were only eight operational wind turbines used to create energy in SA.
The largest group of turbines comprises four at a wind farm in Darling. The commercial wind farms that will soon be coming to SA may have up to 80 or more turbines. Very few mortality studies have been conducted at the existing turbines, so at this point we have to learn from international studies.They have found numerous mortalities, especially of raptors and bats, at some wind energy facilities. International examples showed that the correct placement of wind farms was vital to reduce impacts, he said “This is why it is so important to monitor a site for at least 12 months before construction to determine bird movement and behaviour”.
His program has partnered with Birdlife SA to develop an avian wind farm sensitivity map for SA to indicate localities that contain species believed to be sensitive to wind farm developments.
Simply Green Issue 4 2012