American Bird Conservancy, Michael Hutchins
The state of Hawai‘i has an ambitious goal of achieving 100 percent renewable electrical energy by 2045. As some of the most isolated islands in the world, Hawai‘i’s costs for importing oil are very high. A move towards generating renewable electrical energy thus makes a lot of economic and environmental sense.
Unfortunately, this plan is not without its own environmental hazards. It means vastly more wind turbines and solar farms on or around the islands, and one of the biggest challenges is their potential impact on Hawai‘i’s endemic birds and bats.
As result of its long isolation, Hawai‘i is home to many bird species that are found nowhere else in the world. These include threatened and endangered species and subspecies, such as the ‘Alala (Hawaiian Crow), Nene (Hawaiian Goose), Hawaiian Common Gallinule, Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt, Pueo (Hawaiian Short-eared Owl), ‘Akohekohe, Hawaiian Petrel and many others. At least 95 of Hawai‘i’s unique birds have already gone extinct, making conservation of the remaining endemic species and subspecies a very high priority.
Poorly sited wind energy projects on the mainland are killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats annually, including threatened and endangered species. In the case of birds, that number goes into the many millions when wind projects’ associated power lines and towers are also taken into consideration. As the number of turbines and power lines increases, these fatalities are mounting every year. The presence of turbines and power lines also drives away many species, including grassland birds and Greater Sage-Grouse, often resulting in brood failure. Read article