It's estimated that around 4,000 species of birds regularly migrate, which amounts to 40% of the total bird population worldwide. But due to an increasing lack of space, the best wind farm locations often overlap with migration routes.
If poorly sited or ineffectively monitored, wind farms can create considerable problems for migrating birds. They can disrupt crucial migration routes, cause collisions, and increase bird fatalities.
These issues can't be left unmanaged, so it's important to take measures to mitigate their impact, both before and after construction.
In this article, we'll explore why bird migration poses a challenge for wind farms, and what operators can do to manage it.
The Issue of Migration
Annual migration involves the relocation of millions of birds each year, as they travel between new breeding and wintering grounds. If wind farms are built along these migration routes, they can cause adverse effects on populations. This is mainly due to deaths and loss of habitats.
Migration paths can interrupt developments and lead to environmental conflict, especially when proposals coincide with areas of high activity, or pose a threat to a species that has conservation concerns. Also, without proper siting, tracking, and monitoring of bird activity, it's harder to provide an accurate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Once the wind farm is operational, monitoring needs to be sustained to ensure continued functional success and adherence to government policy.
So, what can operators do to mitigate the risk of bird migration?
Gather Migration Data Before Construction
Before construction, surveyors should gather as much pertinent data as they can about the bird activity in the surrounding area. Smarter siting is the best way to tackle the challenges presented by bird migration, right from the start.
During the pre-construction stage, advanced tracking tools like bird control radar are vital for collecting accurate, long-term data on bird movements in the area, including migration activity, size, speed, flight path, and more.
Operators need to demonstrate that they have the right tools and systems to minimise any negative effects on the surrounding land. And bird radar is a great way to continuously measure risk in the immediate vicinity.
Unlike human observers, radar is always active and isn't interrupted by adverse weather or poor visibility. Over time, radar produces detailed, in-depth data that's easier to collate and manage. This makes for better planning and provides the oversight to identify any ecological impacts before development.
To see our bird radar in action, check out the case study from Bureau Waardenburg at Eemshaven.
Maintain Monitoring Over the Long Term
Once operational, continuous monitoring is essential for keeping track of incoming bird activity and measuring the environmental impact of your wind farm over time.
If bird radar is in place for a long period, operators can compare bird activity data from before and after construction. This makes it easier to measure the impact on the surrounding bird population.
Once a migratory event occurs, bird radar can quickly generate accurate density, speed, and movement data for operators. The most advanced bird radar can even issue shutdown commands if certain criteria are met. Sending out signals based on real-time information to automatically slow down or shut down a single, or pre-selected row of turbines to reduce the risk of collision.
Use Radar Tracking for Continued Success
As green energy becomes an ever-more crucial source of power, we'll likely see the number of wind farms increase substantially. This creates new challenges that wind farm operators will have to overcome.
If implemented correctly, bird radar can remove the risk of collision during bird migration. With continuous monitoring, shutdown capability, and reliable data gathering, bird radar provides the best tools to measure and tackle bird migration as effectively as possible.
To find out how Robin Radar assists with mitigating the impact of wind farms on birds worldwide, click here.