Aliens hate green energy!

By Phil Plait | January 8, 2009 1:42 pm
Turbine damage from a UFO! Feh.

Obviously, aliens hate the fact that we’re going green: an energy-producing wind turbine in the UK was destroyed last Sunday. Mysterious lights were seen in the sky around the same time. Ergo, aliens want us to burn coal.

Hey, my conclusion is no dumber than assuming flying saucers were around in the first place. But that didn’t stop people from assuming UFOs were behind the turbine’s destruction.

What’s funny is that we have a whole pile of rational explanations for this event. The lights have been identified as fireworks. While they probably didn’t destroy the turbine, it’s not completely out of the question. More likely, though it was a coincidence: the weather conditions were very cold, with icing a problem. Ice on one blade could have been flung into another, causing the destruction. Or ice could have built up in a crack or seam on the blade, bending it, throwing it off balance. At the size and speed of those blades, a small deviation can cause catastrophic damage.

Heck, even someone taking a shot at it with a rifle would explain what happened.

But that didn’t stop the BBC and other news outlets from devoting a lot of time and space to the UFO angle (including The Mirror, which also posted a picture of a flying saucer from the movie "Forbidden Planet"). Of course, they’re just quoting Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, the owner of the turbine:

“Until we have some idea, some plausible explanation that it was not a UFO, I don’t think we should rule it out”.

Brilliant! Of course, they have no evidence Doctor Who didn’t do it, so they can’t rule that out either. Or maybe it was Jenny McCarthy! Windmills cause autism! Why, that would even explain Don Quixote! Was Cervantes ever chelated?

And to top it all off, the Ecotricity site has been using this for publicity, saying, incredibly, "We don’t as yet have any evidence that points us to a cause … but speculation in the press is rife." Yes, speculation has been rife because the CEO of your company specifically mentioned UFOs.


This kind of breathless nonsense is really, really dumb. It’ll waste time during the investigation, it wastes space in the news, and it reduces the overall population’s IQ by some fraction of a point as well.


But hey, at least I can use this graphic now:

The stupid, it burns

Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to John J Dempster, Thomas Siefert, and James Oberg.


Comments (58)

  1. Mchl

    Not only are those windmills messing up navigation sense of migratory birds, but it seems they have similar influence on alien spacecraft technology as well. Are birds from space? Or perhaps reptilian aliens come from the same branch of reptiles that all birds evolved from?

    I think I’m going to do Ph.D. on that!

  2. Todd W.

    Where’s Billy Meier when you need him? He probably got a really good photo of the garbage can li…err, uh…space ship…yeah…that wrecked the turbine.

  3. Nemo

    These things are so fragile, and fail so spectacularly. I think we should be looking more at non-turbine-based generation.

  4. Charles Boyer

    Mchl, there is some good evidence behind the migratory bird theory.

    A more plausible explanation than ice causing one blade to fly into another is that ice caused an imbalance and thus the blades tore themselves apart.

  5. Mchl

    I know that influence on birds is real (or seems to be). The better it fits my theory 😛

  6. Patrick

    People don’t even know how to even use the term UFO anymore, idiots.

  7. I heard on the radio that the damage had been caused by a flying cow…

  8. Old Geezer

    I think everyone who ever worked on them had been vaccinated as a child. Don’t you see the danger?

  9. Lazze

    I was just about to point to the article :-)

    Anyways – strange lights and wind turbine failure?! Anyone thought of lightning? It happened some years ago, close to where I used to live, and the result were similar to that, shown in the picture. The scorching on the blades made it quite obvious then. That is, if it wasn’t zapped by a UFO 😉

  10. Levi in NY

    The wind turbine destruction was an inside job! See how one of the two remaining blades is bent, like it had been melted? That’s impossible given the temperatures we are supposed to believe this event occurred at. Steel will only melt at 1500°F, so it must have been explosives that were planted there. And who else could have planted the explosives so secretively but Gordon Brown and the government of the United Kingdom? This is obviously just a ruse so Brown can justify his planned invasion of Denmark.

  11. cuggy

    the doctor DID do it, but it was to save us from the daleks who were using the turbines to blow dalekanium nanites over the UK to covert them into an army of drones, obviously

  12. Mang

    Why do they build these in nice lines instead of staggering them a bit? Then a lot of the failures might not be as bad.

    Doh! (There I said it)

    There was a great video of a mill self destructing at

  13. chaboyax

    i live in lincolnshire and its a bit of a behind the times kinda place. but its all ive heard all day at work they all keep saying “why would they choose lincs” not “ohh what crap” says it all to me

  14. Scott

    Well, of course space aliens did it. They like global warming as everyone knows their home planet is much warmer than Earth! :)

  15. Having once worked with the largest danish manufacturer of wind turbines, I’ll hazard a guess at a combination of lightning, rain and freezing. Each time a lighning strikes a wind turbine blade, microscopic cracks develop in the outer layer. When rain water seeps into these cracks, it stays there. Then comes winter and freezing, which will expand the water ever so slightly, opening the cracks a bit mor, making room for more water … Repeat that cycle until the blade has lost enough structural strenght, to break off under stress.

    This guess at a cause is of course not as sexy as UFO’s :(

  16. pablo

    We have a lot of NIMBY people over here trying to convince everyone that wind turbines cause epileptic seizures from “strobing”, kill birds by the hundreds, and fling ice for miles damaging homes and cars.

  17. You’re being a little hard on Ecotricity – the news entry you link to is very obviously a joke, with a flying cow in the picture and the words “On a serious note…” underneath. They have to respond somehow (turbines flying apart is serious!) and poking lighthearted fun at the conspiracy theorists seems entirely appropriate to me.

  18. I just love the leap of logic…broken turbine, clearly the work of aliens. Ridiculous.

  19. Raj

    The comments here are very disappointing for a supposedly informed, pro-science crowd.
    Many of the explanations put forth here have been ruled out. For example, the Company head has
    indicated that they have ruled out ice. Fireworks? Possible, but unlikely. Skepticism is fine so long as it doesn’t take the tone of an almost religious disbelief. If we believed the skeptics of the past , we might still believe the earth is flat. Instead of looking the other way, we should be looking carefully at the results of any analysis as the explanation would be interesting….any way you look at it.

  20. Having watched The Day The Earth Stood Still just last night, I now have enough experience in the intentions of aliens to say that, presumably, they just want an excuse to destroy us.

  21. Gareth

    So aliens travel many light years, possibly even thousands of light years to visit our planet, yet still manage to crash into a wind turbine?

    There’s only one possible explanation.

    The alien must have let his missus drive for a bit… ;o)

    While we don’t have Teh Stoopid on the scale of the creationists in America, we do have plenty of Teh Stoopid in Britain.

    For example, a UFO story in my home town from last September:

    In the “your emails” section, the first one from “Gareth Hill – Rhos resident” is from me trying to add a bit of Teh Sensibull into the mix. Unfortunately, the number of sensible comments is just drowned out by the comments from gullible idiots.

    Had to laugh at Carol’s comments on the Berwyn “UFO crash” too. A UFO story which has been thoroughly debunked a LONG time ago…

  22. baryogenesis

    What exactly are you saying? That aliens could have caused the damage? Why would that even be considered a possibility? Because these wind turbines sit high in the air and aliens have a notoriously poor piloting record? Oh yeah, the crash at Roswell… (Shakes head).

  23. Nic

    I saw the article and it boiled my blood. I tried to chat with a friend who is (to be polite) intrigued by the unusual explanation and I suggested perhaps fatigue of the structure, or a rifle bullet which could weaken the structure sufficiently without leaving (much) evidence.
    I reckon it was structural – I believe the good Dr Phil once posted a link to a (Canadian?) wind turbine disintegrating, guess the regulation/braking system failed on that one.

  24. bjn

    So that’s what happened to your hair!

  25. Shaded Spriter

    I am currently on a job seekers course and four of the people were believing this was real without any thinking about it at all. I looked at the photo of the UFO and all I could see was everning sky and a lens flare.

  26. bob

    I was there and saw it from my own eyes. It wasn’t a fireworks, neither ice. It wasn’t a plane.. I have never seen a craft like this before. Never mind the true is stranger than the reality.

  27. I like the idea of Jenny McCarthy rotting in jail for whatever we can pin on her. Maybe she shot JFK, too. We can’t prove she didn’t, so let’s string her up already!

  28. Paul M.

    I’m impressed that a turbine can shed an entire blade and not rip itself apart completely… also the NIMBY people have nothing on the BANANA people – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

  29. loosely_coupled

    “These things are so fragile, and fail so spectacularly. I think we should be looking more at non-turbine-based generation.”

    I agree. I don’t know all the details nor if the manufacturers claims are accurate, but these unconventional wind turbines at least appear to be a great solution. They are built like the ducted turbo-fan engine on a commercial airplane. They are much smaller and safer then conventional turbines, can run at higher wind speeds, can be placed closer together, transported easier, etc.

    Why this tech hasn’t been bought up by G.E. and put into mass production I don’t know…
    See here:

  30. baryogenesis
  31. José

    Does the Kennedy family have a nearby summer home with a view of the wind farm?

  32. Luke

    It was probably St. Elmo’s Fire.

  33. Bruce A

    Actually that was me. I haven’t quite got the hang of this remote viewing thing yet. Sorry, my bad!

  34. Eddie

    Disappointing how The Beeb pushed this STORY. Turbines disintegrate on occasion: Start a ‘para-normal’ story and how it runs. BBS Ed was pushing words into Turbine rep’s mouth.

  35. PaulJ:

    Yes, there’s a video on the net that suggests a flying cow. Priceless! And more likely than aliens.

    Like I said here:

    It was an Ungulate Flying Object!

  36. I suppose in fairness though, an object which is both airbourne and unidentified is, by definition, an Unidentified Flying Object. Unfortunately, the tabloids fail to grasp the principle that UFO doesn’t necessarily equal aliens…

  37. xth_scholar

    Am I the only one who read Ecotricity as EcoTROCITY? Because that’s some pretty ecotrocious reasoning going on right there.

  38. Ray


    “Not only are those windmills messing up navigation sense of migratory birds”

    Not a problem. They will evolve. The unfit ones are being weeded out.

  39. phiend

    Having never worked with a windmill I don’t know if this is possible, but aren’t windmills just large electric generators? Couldn’t the generator itself of been what was causing the strange lights? Depending on where and how the failure occurred its seems that a large generator could cause some arcing.

  40. James

    I thought the best coverage of this event came from here:

    “What seems to have happened is an alien being has travelled millions of light years across space from a planet we have never heard of, using technology we can only dream about, and then collided with a windfarm.”

  41. Raj! You may be on to something! I have photographic proof!

  42. Charles Boyer


    It lends credence to Douglas Adams tongue-in-cheek theory that UFOs are actually teenaged aliens out joyriding.

  43. Mike C.

    “Heck, even someone taking a shot at it with a rifle would explain what happened.”

    In the UK ? It’s more likely that a UFO hit it.

  44. Flip

    You’ll love the Jan 9 CNN Daily Video podcast with a report on this..

    Includes clips from “Mars Attacks.”

  45. Steven C. Raine

    Sadly this was a lead story (last of the headlines ) on Channel 10 late news in Australia. They accompanied their 2-5 min (therabouts?) story here with fuzzy footage of a light in the sky & the damaged turbine, spun the “Flying Saucer did it!” angle further than Warnie (Aussie spun bowler – Non-cricket fans y’don’t know what you’re missing out on! 😉 ) The might’ve been ice or something rational idea was never mentioned & the channel ten news generally presented credulous tripe with nary a skeptic or critical thought in sight. :-(

  46. This is hilarious, I am sure we now have to put in a formal complaint to receive damages from the Interplanetary Parliament lol.

  47. Aliens hate green energy and want us to burn coal. Wasn’t that the plot of the Charlie Sheen classic THE ARRIVAL?

    I’d argue this does point to a problem in efforts to speed us into entirely “green” energy too quickly. I love wind power turbines, but they have been documented to kill wildlife in a number of unfortunate ways, and are relatively expensive per Kw/hour. If storms take this kind of toll we may need to make some leaps in materials or engineering designs before we fast-track a lot more wind farms. We need them, but the evidence shows they have their drawbacks.

    On more thing to RAJ– I don’t think skeptics would keep us believing IN a flat earth, I think it was the brash skeptics who noticed the little bits of evidence (shadows in different locations, lunar eclipses, etc.) who moved us to the round earth ideas. Show me a person using real science in UFOdom and I’ll accept that as a realm worthy of honor.

  48. Blade hit-and-runner: Aliens ate my turbine

    A story lampooning this lunacy from UK-based news satire site KTAB News. :)

  49. Dennis

    We are not very clever, 62 years on, and we still have not solved the mystery of unidentfied flying objects [whatever they are] Surely the best
    answer to date to the serious Windmill damage is that an object of that nature simply hit it as it passed too close.[ I am 72 and wondering if it is safe to fly anymore] Dennis

  50. Dennis

    Statto has probably got the right answer, well done Statt!

    sorry Windmill

  51. The birds probably plotted to do it. lol.

  52. For real people? This is stupid stuff made by the same people who believe in paranormal activity…. they want to believe the wierdest things……. and even if aliens really did this then it was because the wind turbines kills birds. First of all There is no such thing as aliens being green men. The word aliens means life that is not from your home planet…… when someone says alien they think of a green man with big eyes….. Its all stupid movies getting to the youth. These are the types of aliens….. Reptillions, Greys, Blues, E.T, Nordic, And many more. Its ignorant people that say alien means a green man. Yes the peaceful and most of our galaxy is full of either lizard-like creatures and green men-like creatures. We are the creatures that are not smart and are corrupted by war, murder, greed, power, hatred, and ignorance. We have all this because we cant learn to share, have peace, and love all races. We humans need to change our ways now or it will be chaos on our world.


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