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Alpine wind farms: blessing or curse?

Fotomontage Windparks

Zukünftige Windparks als prägende Landschaftselemente © ÖAV Fachabteilung Raumplanung-Naturschutz, Fotomontage: P. Bonato, Fachabt. Raumpl.-Naturschutz

Tiroler Wasserkraft AG (TIWAG) and Salzachwind GmbH are planning to build several wind farms in the Wipptal/Brenner region on the Austrian-Italian border. The Austrian Alpine Association (ÖAV) is calling for an immediate stop to the planning work for the wind farms as they are to be erected in a conservation and local recreation area.
The wind generators to be erected on the summits and ridges of the Brenner mountains are up to 140 m in height, and ÖAV contends that they negatively affect the natural scenery, which is crucial for close-to-nature tourism. The Alpine Convention's Energy Protocol also prohibits energy-generating installations in protected areas and unspoilt natural regions and landscapes.
In Germany wind power has now displaced hydraulic power as the principal source of renewable energy. A total of 14,000 windmills generate 25 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, making Germany the world leader in wind energy.
Austria's largest wind farm to date was inaugurated in the Austrian town of St. Pölten on September 20. The wind farm produces electricity for around 17,000 households, ensuring an annual reduction in CO2 of 36,000 tonnes.
Sources and information:
19.09.2003 www.oeav.at/portal/hp-meldung-ue (de), www.sonnenseite.com/fp/archiv (de),
22.09.2003 www.vpnoe.at/index.php?page=newsdetail&ne (de)