Wind Power and Birds – Preventing Bird Deaths
IdentifiFlight has developed an optical system that reduces golden eagle deaths by more than eighty percent. The technology is designed to allow birds to avoid wind turbines and can be used to prevent bird deaths in areas where the presence of wind turbines is common, such as offshore wind farms.
Optical AI system reduces fatalities by 82%
IdentiFlight International LLC has announced a study showing that its optical system can reduce golden eagle fatalities by 82%. The study was conducted at Duke Energy Renewables’ Top of the World Windpower facility in Wyoming.
IdentifyiFlight combines artificial intelligence and high-precision optical technology. The technology is based on convolutional neural networks. It can identify birds from a distance with 94% accuracy. It detects flying objects and classifies them, so operators know when to shut down nearby turbines. This is done through a series of cameras that can determine if an object is a protected bird within seconds. The cameras can see up to a kilometre away.
The IdentiFlight system includes eight wide-angle cameras that scan the sky, looking for birds of prey. The images are processed using proprietary software that calculates the bird’s velocity, trajectory, and 3D position. The information is then sent to a base station. The data is displayed on a graphical display. The base station also sends the data to the curtailment module.
The IdentiFlight system is commercially deployed at wind farms around the world and is installed at 150 wind farms in North America, Australia, and Europe. The cost of installing the system is approximately $150,000. In addition to this cost, there is a maintenance fee of about $8,000 per year.
Alternative turbine types
Despite their clean energy contribution, wind farms have been found to have a negative impact on wildlife. Birds are particularly vulnerable to the blades of wind turbines, which in full use, can reach speeds of up to 179 mph at the tip.
As a result, it is important to consider bird habitats when planning a wind farm. If possible, developers should locate the turbines away from hills, cliffs, or other obstacles. They should also avoid placing them near areas important for bird feeding, breeding, or migration.
As mentioned above, some wind farms use sensors that alert the operators when a bird or bat approaches. These devices are expensive, and there is mixed evidence about their effectiveness. If the bird or bat is detected, the turbine may be temporarily shut down.
But sometimes simple is better; researchers have found that dark turbine blades can help prevent bird collisions. Painting one blade a darker colour than the others makes the movement of the blades more noticeable to the birds and therefore easier to avoid when flying in low light conditions.
Other researchers are rethinking the entire turbine design, and one new bird-friendly turbine design is gaining market share. Called the vertical axis turbine, these units require less wind speed to create energy and are placed lower to the ground, out of the flight path of many typical migratory birds. The turbine design is visible to birds even when in operation and is, therefore, easier to avoid. Best of all, the overall cost to install and service these units is less because they are lower to the ground and easier to deploy.
There is no doubt that clean energy from wind is here to stay and is gaining in importance and impact. We must do our best to protect the wildlife in and around the areas where we locate the turbines and these systems. AI protection, painting blades black, vertical axis turbines and other yet-to-be-invented solutions all help to protect our wild birds and ensure a healthy planet for future generations.