Wind farms are one of the most powerful and reliable sources of sustainable energy. The global energy sector aims to generate 90% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050 to mitigate the effects of climate change, with wind and solar power leading the way.
But while wind has proven to be a sustainable source of clean energy, the turbines that harvest it can have a damaging impact on bird populations.
What’s the Answer?
In our latest guide, we outline 5 new wind farm technologies that are helping operators reduce bird mortality rates. These are split into three key categories:
- Detection and monitoring solutions
5 Technologies that Reduce Wind Farm Bird Deaths
Cameras are a cost-effective and versatile way to monitor bird activity at your wind farm. Like radar, cameras use imaging to give you a 360° view of bird activity around your wind farm. More advanced systems, like infrared and thermal imaging, even allow you to distinguish between species.
- Easy to set up and manage
- Perfect for small wind farms
- Limited operational range
- Affected by adverse weather conditions
- Doesn’t collect data on bird behaviour
Avian radars are a step up from basic optical monitoring equipment. They can automatically detect and track hundreds of birds simultaneously, gathering vital scientific data on size, speed, direction, and flight path. As well as helping to reduce bird mortality, this information helps you conduct more accurate risk analysis and environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
- Superior range
- Collects detailed scientific data
- 24/7, 365 operational capacity
- Unaffected by fog
- Integrates with automated turbine shutdown functionality
- Less effective in heavy rain
- Can’t distinguish between species
3. Blade Painting
A recent study from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) revealed that painting one of your turbine blades black can reduce bird collisions by up to 70%. It works by reducing motion smear – a visual phenomenon that occurs when an object is moving so fast it appears almost invisible to the naked eye.
- Must be painted manually
- Only works in daytime
- Yet to be categorically proven
- PPG Paints
4. Acoustic Deterrents
Commonly used at airports and runways, acoustic deterrents have found new applications at smaller wind farms that need to deter certain species. Connected to a camera or radar system, they work by mimicking bird calls or emitting a noise whenever one flies within range of a turbine.
- Targets certain bird species
- Requires knowledge of the target species
- Must be integrated with a camera or radar system
5. Automatic Turbine Shutdown
Automatic turbine shutdown uses data from avian radar to temporarily switch turbines off whenever the system detects potentially hazardous bird activity. Shutdown commands are based on real-time data, which means it only suspends operations for as long as the threat remains. This reduces the impact on shutdown times, energy production, and costs.
- Significantly reduces bird mortality
- Automated to minimise operational downtime
- Integrates with existing detection and monitoring systems
- Unaffected by adverse weather conditions and low light
- Temporarily suspends operations
Protect Birds on Your Wind Farm
Download our guide to learn more about the technologies outlined here. You’ll also discover how you can continue to generate clean energy while mitigating the risk to bird populations, as well as:
- What causes bird mortality at wind farms
- Key industry considerations for wind farms
- How to identify the technology that’s right for you
- What’s next for wind farms