Japanese team: Small wind farms a danger to birds

A Japanese research team is recommending that steps be taken to protect endangered bird species from the threat posed by small wind farms. To illustrate its point, the team released a video clip of a bird flying into a wind turbine at a small farm in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido.

The farm chosen for the study has an output of less than 20 kilowatts. The experts, from Tokushima University, captured the moment that a white-tailed eagle, an endangered species, collided with a turbine blade at the farm in the town of Tomamae.

The eagle broke its right wing, and was taken to a facility in the prefecture to recover.

Large-scale wind farms with an output of 10,000 kilowatts or more are required to assess the possibility of bird strikes, but smaller farms are exempt.

The research team is recommending that the impact of smaller wind farms on protected bird species such as eagles and hawks be assessed. The number of small wind farms is exploding, with about 7,500 projects approved nationwide.

A member of the team, Tokushima University associate professor Yoichi Kawaguchi, said the impact of small wind farms on birds remains unclear. He said the situation requires further study and a course of action.