Wind farms and lots of questions

Wind farms and lots of questions
The new, the newish, and the old

I am still out to lunch on wind farms.  Are they good? Or are they political?  Do they kill tens of thousands of birds?  Do they cost more to produce than they can deliver energy-wise in their life time?

According to the BBC in 2010,  666 average wind masts create the same amount of energy as one power station.  They are very noisy to live near. And they do not mix too well with the old. That is what I find interesting about this image – it is attractive, and yet not quite.

What mars it? The old house cowering beneath the electricity poles that cower in turn beneath the turbines? Or is this harmony? From a photographer’s point of view the photo would have been better with just the wind farm, one layer of history, but then it would not tell the story this does.

Wind farms blighting the area and adding nothing
Wind farms blighting the area and adding nothing

I published the above in 2011.  A few days ago, a wind turbine much higher up than my Masia and about 15 km away caught on fire and also caused a forest fire and “ground damage”. I could find no other information on the story that you would think was big news. It mysteriously disappeared! Curiosity piqued, I started to investigate on the internet. I am not out to lunch on my views re turbines anymore. The rest I wrote I still agree with. What I am now is quite simply appalled for the world, and for my area where there are huge plans for massive turbines, fields of solar panels and 55m tall metal electricity pylons which will blight this area and put an end to the one thing it has going for it. It’s utter, untouched natural beauty.

El Maestrat is simply totally (almost) unspoilt. But the money rich want to change that
El Maestrat is simply totally (almost) unspoilt. But the moneyed rich want to change that

There have been massive protests, but to no avail. The worst is that it will give nothing to the locals. And I guess they calculated that there are not that many. Except there could be. The signs are there. but not if this goes through.

the empty land is filing again, but is it too late? We are sitting ducks...
the empty land is filing again, but is it too late? We are sitting ducks…

 The electricity generated will pass down to the sea through these monstrous pylons, looming over ancestral homes and to the sea where it will be carried underneath to another country. I think it is Algeria.  I am not sure. I do know that there are two giant companies behind this, one is French and the other American, Blackrock, an insanely rich company, known as one of the dirty dozen for its investments in carbon fuels – read here a snippet:

“As the chief executive of BlackRock, Fink oversees one of the world’s largest fossil fuel investment portfolios, with $87bn behind the industry.

And though Fink has made sweeping climate promises and even wrote an op-ed about achieving a “net-zero” world, his company has profited off deforestation – a major cause of rising emissions – more than any other company globally.

Fink has also pushed BlackRock to vote against pro-climate action shareholder resolutions – all while angling for money from the federal government that should go to climate projects.

In his own words: “Without global action, every nation will bear enormous costs from a warming planet, including damage from more frequent natural disasters and supply-chain failures.”

There are some facts, with links at the end so that you can find out more if you wish. Here is the basics:

The cheapest form of producing electricity in theory is via wind turbines. They are very expensive to produce however and contain a massive amount of highly inflammable substances such as fiberglass, reinforced polymers, foam insulation and  cables, not to mention large oil deposits for lubrication of mechanical parts.

Waind farms and lots of questions
Sunset over windfarms towards Vilafranca

Unfortunately, as beautiful as these can be in places, these turbines do break down quite a bit. The number 1 reason is blade failure, therefore the hugh oil deposits inside these monsters to try and keep them rotating smoothly. The number 2 reason is fire. Yes, that is right. Fire. The causes are many. Some examples are lightning, overheating, high winds that should stop the turbines from spinning but don’t always due to defects or poor maintenance and loose electrical connections. All these flammable products create the perfect conditions for uncontrollable fire. The fact is that fires lead to the loss of 90% of turbines. This outsteps any other turbine problem.

The old in the shadow of the new - wind farms
The old in the shadow of the new – wind farms

Therefore, in truth the number 1 reason for turbine failure/loss  could actually be fire, an increasing problem in this world. The owners of the turbines have a propriety right not to declare fires or anything else in fact. The Telegraph obtained information from the wind industry reporting that about 1500 fire turbine accidents occurred within the UK alone between and 2006 and 2010. This was confirmed independently by Renewable UK. Yet CWIF statistics for the UK in that period documented only 142 accidents, which is just about 9% of what The Telegraph reported.

Wind farms in the most beautiful places
Wind farms in the most beautiful places

As 90% of fire affected turbines need to be replaced, it beggars the question “how cost effective are these turbines actually”?  When situated in high rural areas (choice number 1), the fires are almost impossible to put out due to the turbines’ height and lack of accessibility. This invariably leads to “ground damage”.  In the seas (choice number 2 due to heightened installation costs), they are extremely expensive to access and are usually left to burn out. In urban areas they risk homes and lives, but they are still being installed close to homes!

Until now apparently only 2 lives have been lost. In Holland, year 2019. two men, 19 and 21 years old, if you can call them men at that age, were sent with two others to the top of a wind turbine for repairs.  These poor souls died an agonising fiery death while 2 jumped for their lives and survived. How is this possible? How can such young, obviously inexperienced males be sent to do this dangerous and important work?

Who could send a young lad to the top of this for "repair"?
Who could send a young lad to the top of this for “repair”?

I also do not believe that only 2 lives have been lost. In fact I do not believe much that is written about turbines anymore.

beauty destroyed for people with means?
Beauty destroyed for people without means?

Is there a solution? Yes, maybe. As always it comes down to money. It would cost 2% to 3% more to change the insulations to non-inflammable ones for starters. For a company that is a lot, but for human life, it is peanuts. Furthermore, as these companies are privately owned with ridiculous government grants, they can do whatever the hell they want to it seems. They can go to remote areas and blight them, as Blackrock is set to do to ours.

Now, let us  get to the birds. The amount of deaths (due to the turbine blades) are clearly distorted by the companies with wind farm interests.  The latest study in 2021 by – link at end – said this:

…our projections leave little doubt that the annual toll in birds lost to U.S. wind turbines is st least more than half a million, and a similarly conservative estimate would put that number at nearly 700,000 birds. There is a case to be made that the number could exceed 1 million. And for multiple reasons stated above, these are all likely to be under-estimates.

That is JUST in the Unites States. In the meantime, China has the highest amount of wind turbines in the world. There is a link at the end with the best info I could find. As usual, a bit difficult to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to know.

Also, blades are not actually strictly necessary. A bladeless turbine has been invented already. Admittedly it is still in its infancy, but that is more due to greed than anything else. The Spanish company Vortex makes small ones for domestic use.  Apart from potentially reducing the death of birds dramatically, they are also almost silent.

Turbine companies can and do contest the above figures as much as they want but the truth is the bird population is diminishing beyond all belief, notably more so in windfarm areas. On top of this so is the insect population due to pesticide overuse and unscrupulous land agriculture.  The future of our earth depends on the balance of its eco systems not being overly disturbed. Human life depends on this and at the moment I’m wondering whether it is too late. The buck stops here.  But it doesn’t…

Make your choices. Listen or just go and brew a Nespresso capsule. After all the aluminum ones are recyclable!  Except they are not unless there is some special emblem on the packet. Yet another little “lie” to the mostly powerless individuals to make them feel that you are doing the right thing. I have now retired the nespresso machine and returned to my 25 year old Bialetti indestructible eco stove top moka brewer. Not as easy to make a good coffee, but nothing worthwhile in life is easy. Or no? Companies listen! Yes, I prevaricate. But it is to make a point.

In the shadow of wind turbines...
In the shadow of wind turbines…


5 case stories re turbine

Wind turbine fire statistics

In-depth report re wind turbine fires

Bird mortality in the USA due to wind turbine

Countries that produce the most wind energy

bladeless wind turbines


  1. Ingrid Spiegl
    April 24, 2023

    Just being human seems to be destructive. Hydro-electric dams cause great problems, as do fossil fuels, solar panel fields etc. There are too many people living.
    Your article was well researched and thought provoking and the photographs beautiful as ever. always used a cafetière!!

    • stephanie de leng
      April 24, 2023

      A moka thing is different to a cafetière. Hotter coffee for one. Concept based on a washing machine from the 1939s! Harder to get right for two. I had been recycling all my capsules via the town hall thinking I was doing my bit. Turns out it is all a bunch of bull and the chemicals in the capsules seriously bad to boot. You are right. We ruin everything. Xx

  2. Carol Charlton
    April 23, 2023

    Bravo Stepanie. I’m forwarding this to the Times. Absolutely not enough transparency here.
    Well researched and written…
    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *