Wind turbines have been hailed as one of the greatest advancements in the age of renewable energy, but often the potential negative impacts and occasionally downright deadly disasters involving these green energy darlings are ignored.
While the conversation that wind turbines are too expensive and unreliable often comes up in renewable energy discussion, some other aspects of the emergent technology are rarely touched upon.
Wind turbine disasters run the gamut of possibilities from noise and vibration issues to complete turbine failure, which can result in launching the enormous blades great distances – a lethal strike for anyone caught it the path.
As early as 2009, health research was available linking proximity to wind turbines to a variety of health problems including heart disease, tinnitus, vertigo, panic attacks, migraines, and sleep deprivation.
These claims were dismissed by some based on relatively small sample sizes, but the groundwork for investigation has been set, with the consequences of proximity to wind turbines possibly far greater than noisy annoyance.
And then there are the commonly associated “wind turbine disasters” – Blade failure, structural failure, fire, and ice throw.
Typically during a wind turbine blade failure or fire, the greatest danger is to the wind turbine itself. While it is unlikely that your average citizen will be in harm’s way during a wind turbine disaster, wind industry and support workers can be thrust into lethal situations.
Maintenance technicians, engineers, turbine owner/operators, and other similar roles are among the greatest risk of fatal wind turbine accidents.
Environmental damage can be associated with wind turbines as well, as they can pose a risk to birds, bats, and other wildlife. Documentation exists detailing various protected species falling prey to wind turbine fatality.
Wind turbine technology, alongside geothermal and solar energy, has been leading the way in progressive renewable energy development. However, these sustainable solutions are not without costs, risks, and potential disasters.