Birds To Blades: Technologies to Save the Avian Species

Birds To Blades: Technologies to Save the Avian Species

By Energy CIO Insights | Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Is it important to produce clean energy, even at the cost of avian species that exist in the ecosystem? As humans choose to prioritize nature and every creature in it, many technologies are designed to avoid the side effects of offshore wind turbines.

FREMONT, CA: Amidst panoptic experimentation to confirm whether wind power can be regularly harvested, many offshore wind turbines have been installed throughout coast in the U.S. and Europe. According to IRENA report from 2019, a total of 23,356MW of energy has been harnessed only by offshore wind turbines in the past year. As the installation of offshore wind power plants increase, attention to its side-effects deserve more attention. Since the recent past, refocused attention has recognized that turbines cause a real tough feat for the birds. More than thousands of birds are reported to be dead by getting caught to the turbines. As the avian population migrates over the great waters in flocks, the risk of a massacre is high. 

As the conquests to stabilize cleaner energy goes forward, the disruption caused will increase largely, causing a change in nature’s course. Scientists and researchers have been continuously addressing the problem to find the most ergonomic solution. 

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A Bat Signal:

Researchers from Amherst and Texas have devised a technology to reduce the killing of bats by wind turbines. The ‘unique passive acoustic whistle’ is designed based on the bat’s larynx and is produced by 3D printing the model. The whistle-like technology uses multi-harmonic tones that bats can detect from a distance of 100 meters. Wind turbines with the modeled whistle attached to its blades on the farthest edge as possible will alert bats and encourage redirection of routes, thus keeping them away from danger. 

Involving Ornithological Support Groups:

Many groups of concerned individuals and associations who are dedicated to ornithology have combined forces to identify risks being caused to bird flocks flying around offshore wind turbines. A major group from the UK, the Strategic Ornithological Support Service (SOSS), has worked together with experts from the field to identify critical ornithological issues. 

The groups have put forward a series of recommendations addressing the issues before a significant imbalance takes place. The SOSS has designed seven best practice recommendations that tackle upcoming problems. It ponders on the design of the wind farms, their placement, understanding bird distribution at sea, and the expansion of evidence base for a collision. The group has urged for a hike in tracking device utilization and technologies that monitor areas where the birds breed during different seasons. 

Birds Incoming! May Day! May Day!

Another efficient method is to utilize radar in the wind farms to detect and sense the incoming birds. Prototypes for this radar designed by NASA and the U.S. airforce are already in use in several plants. This radar detects birds from over four miles away and co-relates the weather conditions to determine the time and speed at which the bird will enter the wind farm zone. The turbines are then shut down until during the predetermined time to allow the passing of the flocks, protecting them from the danger of flying into the blades. 

Can The Law Save the Golden Eagles? 

The U.S. government passed the law in recent years that allows a company to install and operate high-speed turbines with permits granted for the next 30 years, debarring the previous term of five years. 

The administration has reserved a threshold for the number of bald eagles that can be acceptably injured or killed by the enterprises before fines are levied. The Bald Eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1940. 

The limit set by the administration accounted for 4,200 bald eagles per year. The government’s policy led to the denunciations of the system as the “kill list” for the famous mascot of the American culture, even though the law focused on reducing the damage. The enterprises have not submitted accurate reports of eagle deaths. 

The situation at present is similar to the circumstances that existed before; and experimentation is still at work while the number of offshore turbines is increasing to produce clean energy. The birds and bats are heavily at risk as the number of wind farms multiplies. On the bright side is the development of smart technology, radars, and sensors, which have ensured an optimistic future for the protection of birds from the blades. 

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