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The cost of renewables: Bird and bat mortality can be high near large-scale projects

Published: Friday, December 24, 2021 - 5:05am
Updated: Friday, December 24, 2021 - 10:01am
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Conservationists say the need for renewable energy grows more urgent with each passing year. But even green energy has costs.

The Bureau of Land Management recently opened bids for solar projects in western Arizona. A field office in the northern part of the state just green-lighted a wind project.

But both wind and solar can have devastating impacts on wildlife. Shawn Smallwood is an ecologist who has studied the impacts of large-scale wind and solar projects on bats and birds.

He says they sometimes fail to detect the blades of wind turbines and fly right into them.

“Golden eagles are a wind-adapted species, they go to where the wind is strong, and that’s where wind turbines are built," Smallwood said.

He said the problem is severe enough that the golden eagle could eventually become extinct.

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