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For decades we have seen advances in wind and solar energy technologies which bring us closer to the ideal of affordable, renewable green energy. But with each advance in technology there seem to be limitations which leave the green energy sector in two steps forward, one step back mode. A new design for wind turbines, however, may be a green energy breakthrough which is simple enough to live up to its expectations.
Solar energy setbacks such as the recent Solyndra debacle are not only a loss for the individual company, but make funding all the more difficult for future solar energy development initiatives. While the cost of solar panels has been going down, to the benefit of individual homeowners, we are still a ways off from having solar energy significantly incorporated into the U.S. national power grid.
With wind energy, the latest unexpected setback has been the realization of the impact wind farms are having on migrating bird populations. The USDA is currently studying bald eagle ;deaths-by-wind-turbine, and estimates of migrating bird mortality from wind turbines range from 50,000 to 450,000 birds per year, depending on the source. The American Bird Conservancy makes the case that mandatory federal operation standards are needed, and notes that recurring bird kills can be avoided when wind turbines are required to shut down during the migration season on nights where low visibility is predicted.