Wind power in the USA

Wind power still represents a small share of American electricity production (0,3%), but this sector experienced significant growth between 1999 and 2003 (+ 28%). In 2004, wind power plants supplied 1,6 million homes with electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Paradoxically, however, the development of this renewable energy poses certain ecological problems. In the Altamont Pass area of ​​California, the turbines of one of the oldest wind farms in the United States (in operation for twenty years) are officially responsible for the deaths of some 4700 birds each year. The facility indeed cuts a bird migration route and is located near one of the most densely populated golden eagle habitats. Last August, a California commission, estimating the damage more serious than expected, issued various technical recommendations to remedy the situation. For operators, this would involve replacing, away from sensitive sites, the old turbines with a smaller number of new ones (around 5 times less), more efficient and twice as high in order to avoid contact between the blades. and birds. Conservationists are calling for three-year operating licenses, renewable only if efforts are made in the right direction. The companies for their part offer permits of at least 13 years, with no fixed timetable for carrying out the necessary arrangements, mainly because of the cost of the operation.

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USAT 05 / 01 / 2005 (Wind turbines taking toll on birds of prey)


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