Birds are a constant headache for wind farm operators. Thousands of collisions are reported every year, and each one has the potential to bring your operations to a standstill. Traditional turbine designs also pose a considerable threat to birds, raising questions about the impact of wind farms on wildlife.
Taking their cue from civil aviation, wind farm operators are taking advantage of bird deterrent systems to minimise turbine curtailment and reduce bird mortality rates.
Top 3 Bird Deterrent System Advantages for Wind Farms
1. Reduce Operational Downtime
The average wind turbine produces roughly 6 million kWh of electricity every year. Individual collisions have a negligible impact on annual output. But over time, the costs of these interruptions quickly add up.
Bird deterrent systems steer birds away from your turbines. This reduces the number of collisions which, in turn, minimises operational downtime, maximises efficiency, and optimises annual energy production.
2. Minimise Your Impact on Wildlife
Alongside indirect threats, like habitat loss and population displacement, direct collisions between birds and wind turbines kill thousands of birds every year. Effective bird deterrence systems keep local and migratory species away from your wind farm. This reduces collisions and the impact your wind farm has on local and migratory bird populations, as well as endangered species such as eagles and kestrels.
From dispersing seeds and pollinating plants to controlling pest species, birds play a vital role in the wider ecosystem. So, as well as keeping bird numbers up, reducing collisions is key to preserving biodiversity and maintaining the health of the local environment.
3. Enhance Your Reputation
Public perception of wind farms is largely negative. People call them an eyesore and a source of noise pollution. While environmentalists accuse wind farms of having a negative impact on the surrounding wildlife, including birds and bats.
Implementing bird deterrent systems on your wind farm demonstrates your commitment to protecting wildlife. This helps to enhance your reputation in the local community and among environmental groups.
What are the Most Common Types of Bird Deterrent Systems?
Bioacoustic deterrents use sound to repel birds. They mimic the distress or alarm call of the target species, warning them against entering your airspace. Some systems employ directional sound to minimise disruption to non-target species.
- Safe and humane dispersal
- Allows you to target specific bird species
- Requires knowledge of the target species to be effective
- Must be paired with a camera or radar system
Scarecrow is a leading manufacturer of bioacoustic deterrents. Boasting the largest database of bird distress calls in the world, Scarecrow provides safe, humane, and reliable bird deterrence for a wide range of industries.
Different sites face different threats, depending on their location. Scarecrow work with you to identify which sounds to use at which sites, and for which species.
Black Turbine Blades
Most wind turbines are either white or grey. Lighter colours are more aesthetically pleasing and easier to distinguish from the air – an important consideration for aircraft safety. But traditional monochromatic designs can have disastrous consequences for birds.
White and grey turbines attract winged insects that many bird species prey on, leading to collisions between turbines and hunting birds.
There’s also the problem of motion smear, a visual phenomenon that renders fast-moving objects almost invisible to the naked eye. If you’ve ever seen a hummingbird or helicopter in flight, you’ve experienced this effect. Scientists suspect motion smear makes it difficult for birds to spot turbine blades, increasing the frequency of collisions and bird mortality rates.
Fortunately, researchers have discovered a simple, low-cost solution to this problem. A recent Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) study found that simply painting one of a wind turbine’s three blades black can reduce bird collisions at wind farms by up to 70%.
Painting a single turbine blade black reduces motion blur by creating dark streaks that birds can perceive. This gives them more time to react and change course, reducing collisions.
- Only effective during the day
Bird Deterrent Systems Aren’t a Standalone Solution
The International Energy Agency aims to produce 90% of the world’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050 to meet rising demand caused by the ongoing energy crisis.
Wind power is at the forefront of this push, and bird deterrent systems will play an essential role in ensuring wind farms and wildlife can coexist.
But to take full advantage of the benefits bird deterrent systems provide, you must deploy them alongside dedicated detection and monitoring equipment, like specialist avian radar. The right combination of solutions provides the 24/7 coverage and full situational awareness you need to prevent collisions and reduce your overall environmental impact.