1. Jessica Martin
  2. Energy
  3. Monday, 09 March 2020
Hi everyone

I've heard a lot of contradictory information about the risk that wind turbines pose to birds.

Can anyone point me in the direction of some reliable information on this topic?

Would also love to hear any first-hand experiences or insights from those in the industry.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Many thanks Adam Thyer!

It seems that bird deaths from wind turbines is not nearly bad as some people claim.

I already knew cats were a big problem, but the scale of the numbers involved are shocking!
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Jessica

Here is an interesting report released by the British Trust for Ornithology. You might find it interesting.

https://www.bto.org/our-science/publications/research-notes/understanding-impacts-wind-farms-birds
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 3
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
DearJessica
How bad wind turbines are for the birds, depends on the species. I have been doing research on birds strikes in offshore wind farms, and they seem very low. Displacement and habitat loss are more relevant for these birds. On land, collisions with turbines seem to be more important. Large, slow flying birds are most at risk, such as predatory birds, such as eagles, and geese/swans appear to be most vulnerable. Models to assess risk have been developed by William Band (https://www.bto.org/sites/default/files/u28/downloads/Projects/Final_Report_SOSS02_Band1ModelGuidance.pdf) and another model can be found in Kleyheeg-Hartman et al. 2018: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.06.025.
The low number of deaths due to turbine strikes are partly due to the low number of turbines, of course. Spatial management for wind turbines may be quite relevant, avoiding major flyways, e.g.
Arjen
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 4
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Hi Arjen Boon

It's so nice to receive a reply from someone who's actually doing research in this area. Thank you!

Other than spatial management, are there currently any techniques for minimizing bird strikes?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 5
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Jessica
Not really. Although I must admit being out of this research for some years now. One possibility is to change the dimensions of the turbine and the configuration of the wind farm. Larger turbines rotate more slowly, and leave more space between ground/sea surface than smaller turbines. This affects species differently: species flying higher up will have a higher risk, species flying low will have a lower risk.
Denser wind farms tend to prevent species from flying through, more spacious wind farms let more birds fly. To what extent this changes the actual collision risk has not been measured at sea, since monitoring bird strikes at sea is difficult. On land, I am not very much acquainted with recent research.
The above affects the macro-avoidance (avoiding the wind farm as a whole) and micro-avoidance (avoiding individual turbines within a wind farm).
In order to calculate the possible collisions, you will need field data. Some data are available (see the reports and papers above) from land situations mostly.
Having said that, wind turbine dimensions are not specified by ecological constraints, so that can hardly be considered a mitigation strategy. Leaves configuration as a possibility; such variations to wind farm design need to be considered in an early stage of the environmental impact assessment for the project. If a decision has already been made, not many mitigations are available.
One other thing is to change the night lighting on the turbines from red to green (birds don't see green), but this is (as far as I know) not allowed by international flight regulations.
Maybe some aspects of turbine design can be changed such as wing dimensions, but I guess any change that will reduce efficiency is a no-go.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 6
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Maybe contact jasja dekker on this topic. He is mainly working on bats and wind turbines in Netherlands. But sure he will know the science around birds as well. Just drop him a message on LinkedIn
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 7
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Arjen Boon and Sanne Dekker, many thanks for you replies. They are very helpful. :D
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Energy
  3. # 8
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