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Britain's Green Dilemma

Sharks and wind don’t mix well, as anyone familiar with the SyFy movie Sharknado knows. Plans for a wind farm off the coast of Scotland were recently trashed so as not to disrupt the habitat of basking sharks in the area. The FT reports:

ScottishPower Renewables’ decision to drop its Argyll Array wind farm comes just three weeks after German power company RWE pulled the plug on its £4bn Atlantic Array offshore wind farm after declaring that the cost of overcoming technical challenges were “prohibitive” in current market conditions.

The physical obstacles confronting the Argyll Array arose in the form of the basking shark, which was found to have a “significant presence” around the planned wind farm, according to ScottishPower.

For Britain, this is the latest in a string of failures for offshore wind. For greens, this is another reminder that every energy source, no matter how green, comes with trade-offs and entailed risks. Solar arrays sometimes torch and blind birds, onshore turbines strike the occasional protected eagle, and offshore wind farms can apparently disrupt marine habitats. Figuring out the right energy mix isn’t as simple as hoping for some best-case renewable scheme. In a way, problems like bird strikes and shark displacement are a good thing for greens: it forces them to temper unrealistic policy expectations by thrusting on them a choice between green energy and conservation.

It might be time for a fundamental rethink of conservation efforts. As Mario Loyola posits elsewhere on the site, a market-based approach might be the best way to preserve and conserve our environment.

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  • Boritz

    You remember that scene in Thunderball where James Bond swims right past the shark in the salt water swimming pool? That was awesome.

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