photo by urbangarden (Flickr CC)

The premise is pretty simple: There are places in the world where the wind blows fairly strong. This free, natural source of power has been used for centuries to grind grain and now it’s increasingly being harnessed by turbines to generate electrical power. Renewable, basically free electricity. Who could possibly have a problem with that.

OK, fossil fuel companies might not like clean energy moving in on their business. And then there are those wealthy folk who flee the noise, congestion and pollution of the big cities in search of a bucolic idyll. They don’t like wind turbines spoiling their fantasy. Green energy be damned.

Now farmers in Australia are complaining that the noise from a local wind farm is making them sick. And they have support.

From an AAP report:

Anti-wind farm campaigner Dr Sarah Laurie said people within a 10km radius of turbines could be at risk of health problems such as elevated blood pressure and headaches.

However, an independent study from the University of Adelaide failed to find any link between wind turbines and health issues.

In California, both state projects and US federal incentives are driving the wind energy industry.

From a piece in the LA Times:

Federal and local officials hail the Tehachapi Valley, a harsh desert expanse about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, as an alternative energy mecca that will help wean Americans off fossil fuel. Kern County, home to the nation’s largest concentration of wind farms, is looking forward to millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenue and has approved most proposed installations.

But many residents don’t like how the turbines “spoil” their view and pastoral lifestyle. There are also concerns about how they might affect local animal populations.

Back in Europe, wind power is booming in Romania, home of the largest on-shore wind energy plant in Europe.

More than half of the installed wind energy capacity is located in the Tomis Team Dobrogea Wind Farm close to the Romanian Black Sea coast. It is roughly the equivalent of the installed capacity of a nuclear power plant.

This is good news for Romania’s economy and clean energy on the whole, but may be bad news for migratory birds.

Read more on that story in Deutsche Welle.

The wind power debate may be framing itself into that most classic of political cleavages: urban vs. countryside. But surely a bunch of wind turbines is preferable to a coal plant or a nuclear power station?