A recent study published by the US Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center indicates that wind turbines kill certain species of bats possibly through direct impact but also because of significant changes in air pressure caused by the rotating blades. This is an additional factor that needs to be considered in when assessing the impact of wind energy projects in the Mojave, such as the Granite Mountain site near Apple Valley.
Researchers are still studying what factors may be drawing the bats to wind turbines, and which species are the most vulnerable, but the study estimates that some sites may be responsible for the deaths of thousands of bats each year. An increase in wind energy farms in the Mojave could significantly impact a key pollinator and insect predator.
Ideally research will be able to identify what is causing the deaths and inform the siting and design of wind energy farms so that this renewable energy source can be tapped. Bird and bat deaths aside, wind energy would otherwise have less impact than solar energy on the Mojave Desert, since solar has a much larger footprint than wind farms. Energy firms and the federal government should invest in more research before we rush technology into action that kills thousands of birds and bats and replicating Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" in our new century.