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Readers here are familiar with the idea that wind turbines do not generate electricity when the wind doesn’t blow and it is also now widely understood that they have to be switched off when the wind blows too hard as well, either because the grid can’t take the surges or because it’s dangerous to have the turbine spin too fast.

The latest news from the USA is that some windfarms may now have to be switched off at night.

Night operation of the windmills in the North Allegheny Windpower Project has been halted following discovery of a dead Indiana bat under one of the turbines, an official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday.

The finding marks only the second location where an Indiana bat has been found dead under a wind turbine. Two Indiana bats were found under turbines in the Mid-west, said Clint Riley, supervisor for Fish and Wildlife’s Pennsylvania field office.

“While finding the dead bat is not good news for any of us, it does show the monitoring works,” Riley said from his State College office.

Of course, the story concerns a particular species of bat in the US, but it’s interesting to consider the implications for other parts of the world. According to this document:

…throughout Europe high-flying bat species are most frequently killed and most fatalaties are of the Nyctalus and Pipistrellus spp.

These two subspecies are both found here in the UK, where they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, along with all other kinds of bat. The legislation makes it a crime to:

  1. Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
  2. Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats

It is interesting to wonder if building a windfarm, in the full knowledge that it will kill bats, counts as “deliberate”. No doubt there are legal precedents here. If it does then no doubt windfarms across the UK will be closing down at dusk, at least during the warmer months of the year.

Oh well, at least solar power stations keep working at night.