The big turbines, which look like high-tech windmills and turn wind into electricity, are going up on windswept sites around the United States. But as wind farms proliferate, an unforeseen problem is turning up: Migrating bats are crashing into the spinning blades of the turbines in disturbing numbers.
This recently discovered issue could get worse in a hurry. Wind power is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. energy industry, and tax subsidies that are expected from Congress this year could trigger a construction boom that will put thousands of wind turbines on high-risk ridges and mountaintops, especially in the eastern United States.
To prevent serious threats to bats, Bat Conservation International is working with industry and federal agencies to determine exactly why bats are fatally flying into the turbines and how that can be prevented. The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative includes BCI, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).