German wind turbines kill Baltic bats

This video says about itself:

This stunning slow-motion footage shows how bats use echolocation to find water. We know how bats echolocate to hunt insects, but this is the first study to show how they recognise large, flat objects like ponds.

Moreover, by testing young bats that had never encountered a pond or river before, the researchers showed that bats seem to have a built-in ability to recognize these important features of their environment. Read the original research paper here:

From Wildlife Extra:

German wind farms kill 200,000 bats annually, mostly from the Baltic!

Local wind turbines may have large-scale negative effects on distant ecosystems.

July 2012. Results of research by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) demonstrate that bats killed at German wind turbines originate mostly from north-eastern Europe.

The study investigated the provenance of four bat species which are most frequently killed by German wind turbines. Bats are of particular interest because they have a vital and important service for ecosystems in regulating population densities of pest insects, and because many species migrate during spring and autumn across Europe between their breeding and wintering ranges.

Hydrogen stable isotope

The IZW-researchers analysed the hydrogen stable isotope ratio in the fur keratin of the bats. Hydrogen has two stable isotopes that share similar chemical properties but differ in mass. The distribution of these isotopes varies in a systematic pattern across Europe, with the light isotopes increasing in atmospheric water from south to north. Since bats incorporate the hydrogen stable isotope ratios of their breeding habitat into their fur, they carry an inert isotopic fingerprint on their way to their wintering grounds.

Therefore, by determining this isotopic fingerprint, researchers can identify the approximate location where the animals lived during the breeding season for a few months before they died at a wind farm.

Baltic bats

The study demonstrated that Nathusius pipistrelles originated almost exclusively from the Baltic countries, Belarus and Russia. Also, greater noctule bats and Leisler’s bats killed by German wind turbines came from north-eastern Europe, probably from Scandinavia, Poland and the Baltic countries. In contrast, common pipistrelles most probably lived in nearby local areas around the wind turbines.

200,000 bats killed every year – Unsustainable

Previous studies have already highlighted that more than 200,000 bats are killed each year by German wind turbines. Researchers are convinced that such high mortality rates may not be sustainable and lead to drastic population declines in their breeding ranges. “Bats have a very low reproductive output, with only one or two offspring per year”, says Christian Voigt from the IZW. Bat populations may need a long time to recover from any additional losses owing to fatalities at wind turbines if they recover at all.

Voigt calls for stronger legislative agreements between the E.U. and eastern European countries. Current international legislation seems to be missing the large geographical scale of this problem. Germany must play a more decisive role in this process, given the recent governmental decision to promote alternative sources of renewable energy, says Voigt.

The large-scale development of wind farms throughout Germany may have negative consequences for even remote ecosystems in north-eastern Europe. Overall, conservationists and scientists record an increasing number of bat fatalities at wind turbines. This is partly due to the fact that wind farms are being increasingly established in forested areas – where people are less annoyed by their presence but where bats foraging above the tree canopy get into dangerously close contact with the blades of turbines. Recently, researchers discovered that most bats are not killed by directly hitting the blades of wind turbines but rather by “barrotraumas” – the inner organs and lungs of bats are lethally damaged when bats are exposed to rapid pressure reductions behind the blades.

Turning turbines off for 1-2 [hours] would save most bats

The problem of bat fatalities at wind turbines could be easily solved, says Voigt. Bat activity is highest at dusk, most importantly during the time of autumn migration. If the turbines were switched off during this period for one to two hours, then this would drastically lower the frequency of bat fatalities, as recent studies suggest, and cause little loss of revenue to the companies that run the wind turbines. Voigt argues “We need an intelligent change in our energy policy, where we minimise the negative consequences for both people and wildlife”.

Dutch wind turbines and bats: here. And here.

More than 600,000 bats were killed by wind turbines last year,  according to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver in the USA. The bats are killed when they fly into the towering turbines which spin at up to 179 mph with blades that can stretch 130 feet: here.

Wind turbine wildlife kill data under scrutiny: here.

Managing Effects of Wind Power on Birds and Bats: here.

The US’ first wind energy legislation to protect birds against wind energy and other renewable energy has been passed. The Bird Protection Act will come into force in January 2015, requiring energy producers to ensure that their facilities protect birds and other wildlife: here.

New research reveals that most seabirds fly near the sea surface, avoiding collision with wind turbines by flying under the blades: here.

Save the Eagles International and the World Council for Nature, the two NGOs that claim “green” policies are causing more harm than good, unite again today to issue a warning: wind turbines attract bats, plus many species of birds, from many kilometres away. Even “carefully-sited” wind farms or wind turbines will attract and kill them: here.

The development of renewable energy is crucially important – but it must be in the right way and the right place. Without proper planning, energy developments, including wind turbines and power lines, can be a major threat to migratory birds. The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) provides a unique forum to gather best practice from around the world and share it amongst Parties, the energy industry, financial institutions and other stakeholders, helping to minimise the impact of renewable energy developments on migratory species: here.

The replacement of fossil and nuclear energy sources for electricity production by renewables such as wind, sun, water and biomass is a cornerstone of Germany’s energy policy. Amongst these, wind energy production is the most important component. However, energy production from wind is not necessarily ecologically sustainable. It requires relatively large spaces for installation and operation of turbines, and bats and birds die after collisions with rotors in significant numbers. For these reasons, the location and operation of wind energy plants are often in direct conflict with the legal protection of endangered species. The almost unanimous opinion of experts from local and central government authorities, environmental NGOs and expert offices is that the current mechanisms for the protection of bats in wind power projects are insufficient. This is one conclusion from a survey by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy: here.

9 thoughts on “German wind turbines kill Baltic bats

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  3. 07-11-2013 | Vis heeft baat bij windmolens

    In het windmolenpark ‘Alpha Ventus’, 15 km ten noordwesten van het Duitse Waddeneiland Borkum, hebben vissoorten als makreel, pitvis en zeedonderpad een nieuwe habitat gevonden. Dit heeft een vijf jaar durend onderzoek uitgewezen. Dankzij het wegvallen van de sleepnettenvisserij profiteren de vissen nu van deze nieuwe leefomgeving.

    Een onderzoek naar de gevolgen van de windmolens voor trekvogels is nog niet afgerond. Wel is al duidelijk dat een gevreesde verarming van de fauna of een massale slachting onder de trekvogels niet heeft plaatsgevonden. Mits er rekening wordt gehouden met natuur en milieu, staat een uitbreiding van windparken op zee verder niets in de weg, aldus Ursula Heinen-Esser van het Bundesumwelministerium in het Hamburger Abendblatt.

    Op de zeebodem is een aanzienlijke toename van het aantal mosselen, zeelelies en zeeanemonen geconstateerd. De fundamenten van de windmolens vormen voor deze vissen een kunstmatig rif. In de lucht reageren de vogels daarentegen verschillend: terwijl de meeuw in het gebied naar voedsel op zoek gaat, blijven de jan-van-gent en de zeeduiker nu meer op afstand. Tot op heden zijn er geen tekenen van vogelaanvaringen met rotorbladen.

    Een ander onderzoek heeft uitgewezen dat de zeezoogdieren hinder ondervinden van geluidsoverlast bij het heien. Dan blijft de bruinvis op een afstand van 20 kilometer. Om die reden heeft het BSH (Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie) een geluidsgrens vastgesteld. Naar zeggen blijven de zeezoogdieren tijdens de bouwwerkzaamheden gewoon in de buurt.
    In Nederland is eveneens onderzoek gedaan naar de effecten van het windpark bij Egmond aan Zee. Ook daaruit blijkt dat de natuur rond de Noordzee vrijwel niet wordt aangetast. De parken lijken eerder positieve dan negatieve effecten op flora en fauna te hebben.


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