Windfarms offer a great alternative energy source, however they can pose a grave risk to migratory birds as well as endangered and protected species, like bald and golden eagles. Their fast-moving turbines can reach nearly 300 km/h (approx. 186 mph), and are situated in locations and at heights at which birds tend to fly. These conditions result in 140,000 to 328,000 brutal bird deaths per year in the US due to wind turbines (Loss, Marra, & Will, 2013), while others can be left maimed. At one California windfarm, estimates are as high as 4,700 birds killed per year by wind turbines (Shellenberger, 2018). Thus, it is the mandate of windfarms to make every effort to reduce their effects on wildlife.
THE FUTURE OF WINDFARMS & BIRDS
With the growing demand for alternative, renewable, natural energy, windfarms will only increase in popularity. By the year 2030, all 50 US states will have windfarm facilities (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2018), which has potential to result in up to 1.4 million bird impacts per year, according to statistical models.
In the EU, energy produced by windfarms makes up 14% of electricity – an increase from 12% the previous year (Wind Europe, 2019). The EU has a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%-95% of their 1990 levels, with wind power being the leader in renewable energy, eventually superseding fossil fuels (Birds and Habitats Directive Task Force, 2016). In 2018 wind power installations were greater than any other form of electricity generation, with Denmark producing the most wind powered electricity at 41%, Ireland at 28%, and Portugal at 24%, with Germany leading in installations at 29% (Wind Europe). Wildlife experts agree, at the rapid rate of wind turbine installations, bird and other wildlife preservation will need to be prioritized.
Windfarms have experimented with cameras and radar, GPS, bright turbine blades and lights, turbines that look like trees, and ‘smart blades’ which can identify birds flying toward turbines. However, these are shown little evidence for being effective enough to reliably reduce bird collisions (Bryce, 2016). Traditional wildlife mitigation tools are often insufficient as well. The risk of collision is based on location, design, and bird flight patterns, making the right solution difficult to pinpoint (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service).
HOW ROBIRD® CAN HELP
The RoBird® solution is particularly advantageous, given that even the most effective solutions known to wildlife specialists are not sufficient, and relocation of wind turbines away from highly attractive areas for birds and their migration routes is exceedingly costly. With this solution, birds can effectively be scared away from nesting, loafing, feeding, perching, etc. What is more beneficial to windfarms is their ability to intercept migratory flocks and ‘herd’ (vector) them away from harm at a moment’s notice. It is a completely controlled solution that has the ability to react according to bird flight paths and locations – the ideal solution.
Wildlife preservation is our goal, and with RoBird® we can help to reduce or eliminate bird collisions!
Please contact us to talk about the possibilities.
Birds and Habitats Directive Task Force (2016, November 17). BirdLife position on wind energy and birds and bats in the European Union. Birdlife.org. Retrieved from https://www.birdlife.org/sites/default/files/bhdtf_position_2016_wind_energy_birds_and_bats.pdf
Bryce, E. (2016, May 16). Will wind turbines ever be safe for birds? Audubon.org. Retrieved from https://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe-birds.
Loss, S. R, Marra, P. P, & Will, T. (2013). Estimates of bird collision mortality at wind facilities in the contiguous United States. Biological Conservation. 168, 201-209.
Shellenberger, M. (2018, May 17). If renewables are so great for the environment, why do they keep destroying it? Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (2018, April 18). Wind Turbines. fws.gov. Retrieved from https://www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/threats-to-birds/collisions/wind-turbines.php
Wind Europe (2019, February). Wind energy in Europe in 2018. windeurope.org. Retrieved from https://windeurope.org/about-wind/statistics/european/wind-energy-in-europe-in-2018/