The aesthetics of wind turbines

There’s proposals to build some wind turbines near where I live, and people are up in arms about it. In terms purely of how they look (although feel free to add other opinions, which would be too nuanced for a poll) what do you think of them?

Poll rated from -5 (complete hideous eyesore) to 5 (vision of beauty) with 0 being ‘couldn’t care less’.

I voted 0: Meh. They aren’t pretty, but they aren’t ugly either. As an aside, it’s funny how many people think a wind turbine is horrible but a windmill is picturesque.

You might also consider the relative aesthetics of a coal-fired power plant next door that can provide the same energy.

I voted 2. They’re fun to watch in the daytime, but I’d hate to see the lights from them at night.

I love them.

I wouldn’t go quite so far as to call them a +5, but I like 'em. I gave them a +4.

(Of course, as with any technology, there are risks.)

0 - Bird blenders.

I like them and think they are really cool to look at. Too many of them, though, and they get to be a bit of an eyesore, but scattered out they can be rather nice. I think the technology is pretty cool. I voted 2.

+3. Elegant, but not quite art quality.

I think they’re neat to look at … I did vote 4 instead of 5 because there are probably a few places that I wouldn’t put them, like right in front of a natural wonder or, I don’t know, in the middle of a Civil War battlefield. Places that you (or we, as a society) want the visual focus to not be on giant turbines. I am sure that is what the complainers say about their view as well, so I am talking about a very high threshold for where they are inappropriate in terms of aesthetics.

Any bird dumb enough to be killed by a windmill was probably doomed anyway.

I’ve seen hundreds of windmills in operation. They don’t buzz around like a house fan. The blades normally move about as fast as a bicycle. A bird can die from a collision with a windmill but it’s usually the bird flying into the windmill rather than a windmill swatting a bird out of the sky.

To that into perspective, approximately 25,000 birds die each year by flying into a wind mill. And approximately 500,000,000 birds die each year by flying into a glass window.


Aesthetically, I kind of like them. There’s something science fictiony about them, like I’m seeing the future now. I’ve never lived near them, though, so I don’t know what I’d think if I saw them every day. Also, I’ve been up close and personal with them at one wind farm and heard the low level, rhythmic swooshing sound they make. I don’t know that I’d take that very well if I lived close enough.

Of course, their ecological benefit trumps almost any aesthetic objections I might have to them. I voted 3.

They look cool, but something about them kind of frightens me.

I live near several hundred large wind turbines. They are a beautiful site. The older, smaller ones are ugly. I also live near several fossil fuel power plants. They are truly ugly.

Do wind turbines kill birds? - This was the first site I found on Google and I’ll admit I was surprised by these figures: a billion birds flying into windows each year? That’s like an avian holocaust. But I checked a few other sources and confirmed they were giving figures in the same range. So I went with “approximately 25,000” and “approximately 500,000,000” as being middle of the range figures.

I love wind turbines and wind farms unreasonably. I’m thinking of going back to school and changing careers just so I can be near them forever.

American Bird Conservancy:

"How many birds are killed by wind farms each year?

No one knows for sure. Recent estimates of the number of birds killed by wind turbines ranges from a low of 100,000 birds/year to 440,000 birds/year (calculated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). If 20% of the nation’s electricity comes from wind power by 2030, ABC estimates that at least one million birds per year will be killed by wind turbines, probably significantly more."
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PolitiFact/2010 - National Research Council / ABC: "The latest independent reports estimate the number of birds killed by wind turbines at about 100,000 per year. That’s according to a 2007 report from the National Research Council called “Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects.”

The American Bird Conservancy estimated in 2003 that between 10,000 and 40,000 birds were killed each year at wind farms across the country, about 80 percent of which were songbirds and 10 percent birds of prey.

“With the increased capacity over the last seven years, we now estimate that 100,000 – 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year,” said Conservancy spokesman Robert Johns."

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I’m guessing these are US numbers only.

+3. I’d like them a lot better if they generally came in other colours besides flat white.

And it’s my understanding that wind turbines kill a lot more bats than they do birds.

That’s one dangerous window.