A shift to wind energy is leaving a trail of destruction in Ecuador, with a brutal impact on Indigenous communities and fragile ecosystems.
Demand for balsa wood that is plundered to make wind turbine blades is causing deforestation in the Amazon and creating environmental and wildlife destruction in Ecuador, with a disastrous impact on indigenous communities and ecosystems.#WorldWildlifeDaypic.twitter.com/sXRF3eX1vq— James Melville (@JamesMelville) March 3, 2023
Balsa wood is used in Europe, and also more intensively in China, as a component in the construction of the blades of wind turbines. Already-installed wind turbines, with blades that stretch to 80 metres, can cover an area of approximately 21,000 square metres, which is equivalent to about three football pitches. More recent wind turbine designs can incorporate blades that are up to 100-metres long that consume about 150 cubic metres of balsa wood each – equivalent to several tonnes – according to calculations attributed to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.