Nature or Nurture?

Møller, Niels and Poulsen, Erik., Fact and Fiction about Birds and WECS, WindPower Monthly, vol.1, no.1 (1985), pp. 12-13.

This article reports on an investigation executed in Denmark on the possible conflicts that might arise between WECS and bird life. The hypothesis is that the WECS may frighten away birds, pose as a collision risk and leads to biological alterations. What is concluded from the investigation is that the two study areas had little effect on bird population. However, it acknowledges that under special circumstances, conflicts can arise and recognises that little study was done of the birds before the installation. The theory that birds would change flight course because of the WECS was proven correct in only a few cases. Yet, the birds returned to their course after passing the WECS. Whether the WECS being turned on or not affected the bird activity concluded that some birds avoided them and some did not mind. Human activity is also viewed as a disturbing influence on bird population. Most interestingly, no deaths were recorded between the birds and structures. This was tested by putting dead birds near the sites, and noting no foxes came searching for food, therefore eliminating it for possible collisions. Injury on collision is difficult to record as many fly away. Therefore, the number is believed to be low yet an increase is predicted in adverse weather conditions. The concluding sentence confirmed that more studies were needed to reach any firm conclusions. The investigation itself was financed by the Ministry of Energy. Denmark, recognising its place as leader in WECS’s, felt as if they should be more knowledgeable and prepared to answer questions concerning any possible effects on bird life. The article offers insight into attitudes towards wind turbines from officials. Seeing it as a long term solution in 1985, impacts on the environment are flagged as crucial.

Furthermore, a little article is placed at the bottom of the second page. It recounts protest from locals about a planned installation of three WECS. They claim that the harbour environment will be destroyed if it is allowed to proceed. No further detail is given.


Møller, Torgny., Lightning Strikes Windmill Blade, Windpower Monthly, vol.1, no. 9, (1985), pp. 12

This article reports the dramatic story of a bolt of lightning striking the blade of a wind turbine. Firefighters were called, however, the first arrivals didn’t have the necessary water pressure and the entire blade was totally destroyed. The incidence took place just outside of Copenhagen, a spokesperson from the insurance company claims that it was the first known incidence of lightening striking a windmill blade in Denmark. He states that “windmills are not subject to lightning strikes more than any other thing.” Curiously, it is later stated that the common cause of lightning damage to windmills is lighting strikes elsewhere in the grid system, as they send pluses through the line which can cause damage to the windmills electrical system. The closing sentence explains that there are preventative installations of varistors which has proven effective, however, it can’t prevent damage from a full lightning strike very close to the windmill.

The front cover of Windpower Monthly, vol. 1, no.9,
featuring a real-time photograph of the lightning strike mentioned above.