Review

European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 213-219

First online:

Wildlife and renewable energy: German politics cross migratory bats

  • Christian C. VoigtAffiliated withLeibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Email author 
  • , Linn S. LehnertAffiliated withLeibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
  • , Gunars PetersonsAffiliated withFaculty of Veterinary Medicine, Latvia University of Agriculture
  • , Frank AdorfAffiliated withBüro für Faunistik und Landschaftsökologie
  • , Lothar BachAffiliated withFreilandforschung

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Abstract

The catastrophic nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima triggered a worldwide demand for renewable energy. As one of the few countries, Germany decided on an accelerated shift towards green energy, resulting in substantial conflicts with international conservation goals. Currently, large numbers of wind power facilities are erected in Germany, yet with unforeseen consequences for wildlife, particularly for endangered and protected bats. Presumably, more than 250,000 bats are killed annually due to interactions with German wind turbines, and total losses may account for more than two million killed bats over the past 10 years, if mitigation measures were not practiced. More than 70 % of killed bats are migrants, because major migratory routes cross Germany. Consequently, Germany’s environmental policy is key to the conservation of migratory bats in Europe. Prospective increases in wind power will lead to the installation of larger wind turbines with potentially devastating consequences for bats. The higher net energy production of modern wind turbines at low wind speeds may exacerbate the conflict between green energy and conservation goals since revenue losses for companies increase. We conclude that evidence-based action plans are urgently needed to mitigate the negative effects of the operation of wind energy facilities on wildlife populations in order to reconcile environmental and conservation goals.

Keywords

Alternative energy Chiroptera Conservation Migratory species Wind energy facilities Wind parks Green energy