Windmills – Then and Now
Windmills have been around for centuries performing many different functions. The early ones that you and I remember seeing on our grandparents’ farms and ranches were used to pump water for livestock and human consumption as well as maybe turning a grist mill to grind grain.
The modern day windmills are referred to as wind turbines. Hundreds of these turbines, known as wind farms, now dot the American landscape and are used to generate electricity. Unlike the early windmills, the wind turbines provide a monetary income for the landowners. In addition to generating electricity, wind turbines have also generated controversies. One such controversy is the deadly effect they have on birds and the bat population. It is thought that many bat fatalities at wind farm facilities are due to the bats colliding with the huge blades of the wind turbines. The blade tips can reach speeds of 132 to 182 mph. Another reason for bat fatalities is due to barotrauma, which is an injury due to suddenly altered air pressure caused by the fast moving blades of the turbines. Bat often fly into the disturbed air space causing barotraumas.
There is one common ingredient needed by windmills and wind turbines to full fill their functions. WIND!