For the past few months numerous 'Abnormal Load' lorries have trundled past our home village of Loxton. They have been, and still are, carrying the various sections of wind turbines to the new 'wind farm' near Loeriesfontein. 

Many say, that 'wind farms' are amongst the most environmentally friendly of sources of energy. Once they are erected and producing power that is probably the case but....

Firstly, one has to ask how much energy and pollution was used and created in the manufacture of these turbines, the ships used to transport them from Europe, not to mention the diesel pollution from the lorries transporting them from the Eastern Cape (Couga) to Loeriesfontein. Each lorry only transports one component of each wind turbine, and according to our estimate at least seven lorries are required for each turbine unit. And, apparently, after 20 years a turbine has to be replaced. 

Certainly this is far preferable to coal, and oil, fired electricity producing power stations but the above is worth pondering. 

On top of this there is the impact on bats and birds. Research in Europe has shown that bats are particularly badly impacted. Bats do not hit the turning blades but when flying close to them the lungs implode due to the vacuum created by the moving blades. In the case of birds most deaths occur as birds do not expect or watch out for danger from below. They do not see or feel the blades coming from below. Many birds migrate at night and in this case are particularly vulnerable.

Wind power is certainly in many ways a 'clean' source of power but it is in no way perfect. As a relatively new source of energy in South Africa, hopefully over time we will get a better understanding of impacts on bats and birds and develop methods to reduce losses.