Spain’s wind farms have become a cemetery for bats. Until now the most approximate number of deaths of these animals due to the blades of wind turbines was between 100,000 and 200,000 a year, according to the Spanish Association for the Conservation and Study of Bats (SECEMU), but now the Higher Research Center Scientific Organizations (CSIC), has just increased this figure to one million annually.
In Spain there are 22,000 wind turbines distributed among almost 1,500 wind farms. Of the 31 existing species of bat that live in mainland Spain, a third are threatened, and more than half will die under the blades.
Although wind turbines are large, their blades move at a speed of 300 kilometers hourbut it is believed that the majority of specimens die from barotrauma, a sudden change in pressure that occurs in the vicinity of the wind turbines, and that causes the collapse of their internal organs.
A study led by the Doñana Biological Station (EBD), attached to the CSIC, together with the University of Lund (Sweden) and the University of Seville, has just confirmed the “devastating” impact of wind farms on bats in the province of Cádiz, which can be extended to other areas of Spain.
The study, published in the specialized journal Acta Chiropterologica, analyzed bat mortality data collected between 2005 and 2016, but focused on analyzing in detail the 582 incidents found in 2011, the year for which the most complete information was available. The researchers have collected 2,371 bat carcasses in the study period, which belonged to 15 of the 20 species that can be found in the province of Cádiz. The conclusion is that between 33,000 and 37,000 bats died that year in this province alone, and that some of the areas surveyed recorded the highest mortality rates in wind farms in the world documented to date.