Environment Forum

Giant offshore wind turbines invade UK beaches! Will local residents resist?

wind beach.JPG

By Kwok W. Wan

This time, it was a total surprise.  In a taxi on the road towards the beach, Gunfleet Sands appeared out of no-where and without warning.  Huge offshore wind turbines lined the English horizon.

My last encounter had been a far more distant affair, requiring a helicopter to see Robin Rigg in Cumbria, but Dong’s offshore wind farm was visible on the shore, visible from a car inland actually, and the giant machines pop up and startle you.

As we drove over the Frinton-on-Sea rail track earlier, the taxi driver pointed to the automatic electric barriers and said they replaced the hand-operated gates only last year, after the rail company overcame a three-year battle by residents who resisted the change.

Due to the conservative nature of the town, the driver said there was a myth that the town didn’t have a pub or fish and chip shop.  But it wasn’t true.  It got its first pub and fish and chip shop about ten years ago, he said.

“This town’s full of myths, but most of them aren’t true,” he said.  Pause.  “Yeah, so they’re myths,” he added, helpfully.

Attack of the giant offshore wind turbines?

Robin Rigg Wind Farm 2

by Kwok W. Wan

As I travelled up to Cumbria to visit E.ON’s offshore Robin Rigg wind farm in northwest England, I passed through the Lake District, a place famed for its natural beauty.  Out of the train window, I saw grassy banks, craggy hills, farm fields rolling into moody skies — and lines of giant electricity pylons.

I wondered if the 125 metre tall wind turbines I was about to see would be as much of a scar on the coastline as these unnaturally straight man-made structures on the English countryside.  Would they also poke out like huge metal thumbs across the Irish Sea and distract us from the wild beauty of the surrounding lowland hills?

Having never seen an offshore wind farm before, I was aware of the controversy over noise pollution and turbines onshore blighting the landscape.  I was also told to look out for towers casting long shadows, and warned the sun shining through the blades could cause a strobe effect which might set off epileptic fits.

Green Portfolio: Suzlon sizzles and Q-Cells misses

Indian wind turbine maker Suzlon Energy’s shares gained 8 percent on Tuesday, after sources told Reuters that Suzlon’s founders are looking to raise up to $48 million through the sale of a 2 percent stake in the world’s fifth-largest wind turbine maker.

Shares in leading solar cell maker Q-Cells closed the day up 2.39 percent after it reported profits that missed market forecasts and CEO Anton Milner and CFO Hartmut Schüning tried to assuage investor fear over solar project funding.

German solar peer Solon posted a bigger-than-expected first-quarter net loss and echoed Q-Cells’ financing concern.

Wacky windmill forces California highway shutdown

Turns out birds aren’t the only ones with a reason to steer clear of wind farms.

This past weekend, a wind turbine spinning out of control forced California police to shut down a stretch of highway because of concerns that it could break into large, heavy, and very fast-moving pieces.

California Highway Patrol officers late on Sunday morning noticed that a roughly 125-foot tall turbine on a ridge near the desert town of Tehachapi was spinning much faster than any of the others at the Tehachapi farm.

Another reason for bats to like Halloween

bat1.JPGHalloween is just around the corner, and it may be better than most years for one of Earth’s most unpopular species: the bat. 

Something sinister is happening to bats in the United States — not only are their numbers declining due to a mysterious malady, but large numbers of them are also being caught mid-flight in the spinning wind turbines that are cropping up rapidly across the nation.

The furry flying critters may get help this month thanks to an unlikely group of conservationists, wind energy companies and the U.S. government, who say they are undertaking a big effort to lower the number of bats killed by wind turbine blades.