Rethinking Wind Energy

Rethinking Wind Energy

The bald tops of the Western Ghats are a pristine ecosystem replete with innumerable animal species and, apparently, an abundance of wind and windmills.

As the country tries to achieve an ambitious renewable energy target of 175 GW, windmills have popped up in at least 65 sq km of forested area, with permissions for another 30 or so sq km still pending. This isn’t surprising given that India’s potential wind power map envelops the Western Ghats (from Kerala to Gujarat) and even large parts of the Eastern Ghats.

While this has often led to expressions of concern over the environmental impact — as often in localised protests or civil action suits — these must be articulated in policy to prevent irrecoverable changes in the local ecosystem. Global scientific research has also highlighted the impact of windmills on wildlife. For example, in the first few months of 2018 alone, published papers have shown that in the Pacific islands, bat activity is as much as 20 times lower in areas with windmills. In Poland, higher stress levels have been observed among rodents in the windmill areas of Poland while in Portugal, windmills close to wolf breeding sites are leading to lower breeding rates. And in Texas, there has been a staggering 77% decrease in redhead ducks in coastal ponds within windfarms. Read More

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