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Birds concern stall windmills

delhi Updated: Nov 14, 2011 23:15 IST
Chetan Chauhan
wind energy projects

Concern over adverse impact of windmills on birds has stalled major clean energy projects in India.

An environment ministry committee has refused to approve any wind energy projects till impact of these windmills on avifauna and bats is fully examined.

A study by wildlife conservation organization ELA Foundation, Pune, has found that windmills restrict the path of birds and has been cause of disappearance of many birds in certain areas.

More comprehensive studies in west have indicated that lakhs of birds are killed because of the windmills. In Denmark, where wind turbines generate nine percent of country’s total electricity, these mills kill about 30,000 birds every year. The number is higher in United States, where the government estimated is over 4.40 lakh. Over 4,700 birds have been killed annually every year in California.

Studies indicate that death of birds could increase manifold with global electricity generation expected to rise 12 times to 2009 level by 2030.

Consortium of wind energy generators belie these fears saying the new blades have reduced the bird causality tremendously and it was now less than that of thermal power plants.

The environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) – mandated to divert forestland for projects --- has decided that projects would be considered for approval only after a new comprehensive study on impact of windmills on avifauna and bats is done.

“All new proposals would be considered only after the impact of these windmills is finalized,” the committee said, while acknowledging that wind energy was a good source of clean energy.

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has been asked to conduct a detailed study on impact of windmills on birds and submit a report within three months. “BNHS would draw from the international studies and would provide a framework of suitability of areas after conducting sample studies,” the FAC has told the environment ministry.

The society will also have to draw the areas where windmills can be installed and spell criteria for the site specific studies to minimize adverse impact to birds before taking final decision.

Before BHNS completes its study, the ministry will have to formulate guidelines to access and define the impact zone of the wind energy project for evaluating the net present value (NPV). For adverse impact on forests, projects proponents are required to despite NPV with the government.