Wind energy has promise, but carries risks, reports study
May 3, 2007
While wind-generated energy has the potential to produce clean electricity without carbon dioxide emissions, more research is needed to understand its impact on wildlife says a new report from the National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter.
The study, which focuses narrowly on wind energy in the mid-Atlantic highlands of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, reports that wind-generated power is growing rapidly in the United States but still represents less than one percent of national electricity generation. By 2020 the committee expects wind energy to offset about 4.5 of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise be emitted by electricity generation.
Among environmental concerns, the committee lists habitat destruction and the killing of birds and bats that fly into turbines, but notes that new designs are less deadly for wildlife. It says that local and state governments are presently doing a poor job helping the public plan for wild energy development.
The report did not evaluate offshore wind farms.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that capital spending on new wind projects in the U.S. rose from $420 million in 2004 to $3.65 billion in 2006. Conventional energy firms, notably Royal Dutch Shell Group and BP, have shown interest in wind power.