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2 Nov 2021

How Automatic Turbine Shutdown Saves Birds’ Lives

Wind farm

The race is on to harness sustainable energy before the effects of climate change become irreversible. The world is looking to different energy sources to mitigate the growing problem of global warming and to secure a future for generations to come. Wind energy is at the forefront of this green revolution and is harnessed by wind farms across the world, both on and offshore.

There’s no denying that wind farms are an effective solution, but they are having an alarming, detrimental environmental impact of their own. Bird mortality rates are high at wind farms, as a result of:

  • Birds killed due to collision
  • Displacement and habitat loss
  • Poorly-sited farms

Radars can monitor bird activity, and one solution to try and prevent and reduce bird mortality rates is automatic turbine shutdown, which can temporarily deactivate an entire wind farm if the need arises. Building and harnessing wind farms and protecting wildlife don’t marry easily, but there are solutions that companies need to start employing – and this is one of them.

Discover how technology can reduce the environmental impact of wind farms on  birds. Read our eBook.

The Challenges of Harnessing Wind Power


There’s a growing demand for renewable energy, but harnessing wind power presents its own, unique challenges. When looking to construct a wind farm, developers need to be aware of the detrimental environmental impact it could have and take preventative measures to avoid it. Wind turbines and birds share the same interest in areas with strong wind currents – they will naturally collide.

Collision-related mortality is considered the major issue for migratory birds. Collisions occur with the spinning rotor blades and cause a considerable number of fatalities – but this is only one challenge that wind farm operators must overcome. Bird collision is considered one of the major ecological drawbacks of harnessing wind energy. Unlike other effects of wind turbines on birds, the consequences of large-scale collision may be apparent in the short term among the population in the area.

How Automatic Turbine Shut Down Can Help

Automatic turbine shutdown is an effective way of reducing bird mortality on wind farms and it’s achieved with the help of radars. Our radars send a signal based on real-time information to the SCADA system which will slow down or stop the turbines. Wind farm operators can do this for both single turbines and expansive groups.

How it works

You may think instantly switching off an entire wind farm sounds like a big task, but it’s surprisingly simple with the right technology. Bird detection radars continuously measure the number of birds that enter within a predetermined range of your wind turbines. It monitors birds and their behaviour patterns, alongside a number of other factors:

  • Wind direction and strength
  • Time of day
  • Season

Once specific parameters have been met, or a pre-determined threshold is crossed, the software immediately issues a shutdown command to your SCADA systems. One example of this threshold could be a large flock of birds approaching within 1km of your wind turbines. After detecting an overnight mass migration event, our radar system can shut down the entire wind farm automatically.

Combat Bird Mortality Effectively


Automatic shutdown tries to find the right balance between protecting from the risk of collision and keeping the wind farm as efficient as possible using real-time data, not predictive models or analysis. We understand the need to balance ecology with economy, but a high rate of bird mortality has a negative impact on biodiversity and surrounding wildlife.

Bird detection radars work continuously to monitor the surrounding area of your wind farm, providing you with full coverage and ensuring your systems can shut down should the need arise. By shutting down individual turbines, we keep wind farms running while you handle the problem. Automatic turbine shutdown is just one technology solution that can help reduce wind farm bird mortality however – our latest ebook dives into several other options too.