• Wind turbines killing birds

    From Sean Dennis@1:18/200 to Bob Ackley on Saturday, February 09, 2019 15:13:12
    Hello, Bob!

    Here's one article about this.



    Will Wind Turbines Ever Be Safe For Birds?
    Sure, it's green energy-but it also results in hundreds of thousands of
    bird deaths each year.

    By Emma Bryce
    March 16, 2016

    In 2010 David Newstead, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field biologist,
    visited the Gulf shoreline of Laguna Madre, Texas, to survey skimmers,
    terns, and egrets. But it was a flock of 15 American White Pelicans that
    caught his eye, flying toward the nearby Penascal wind farm. As he
    watched, a pelican at the flock's tail end was swiped by a massive turbine
    blade and "literally `erased' from the air," Newstead wrote afterwards.
    This in itself isn't surprising-wind turbines are notorious bird
    killers-but this specific farm was supposedly equipped with radar that
    could detect approaching birds and halt the blades. The radar had failed
    to do its job.

    Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year in
    North America, making it the most threatening form of green energy. And
    yet, it's also one of the most rapidly expanding energy industries: more
    than 49,000 individual wind turbines now exist across 39 states.
    The wind industry has the incentive to stop the slaughter: Thanks to the
    Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it's illegal to kill any bird protected by the
    Act-even if the death is "incidental," meaning it occurs unintentionally
    on the part of the wind farm. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
    recommends that to avoid eagle deaths, specifically, companies seriously
    consider where they site their wind developments, and that they also limit
    turbines' impact using techniques like radar to detect incoming birds. But
    as the accident at the Penascal wind farm shows, it's unclear if
    deterrents like these actually work.

    The Ways Wind Farms Try to Scare Birds Away

    There are many kinds of retrofits that people are testing to hopefully
    make wind turbines better for birds. Here are some of the options.

    Cameras, Radar, and GPS: The most advanced and widespread technologies are
    those that use radar and GPS to detect incoming flocks and turn off the
    turbines in time for the birds to fly through. In 2006, company Babcock
    and Brown was the first to install such a system at the Gulf Wind Project
    in Texas (now owned by Pattern Energy). At other sites, these technologies
    are species-specific: In California's Tehachapi Mountains, wind developer
    Terra-Gen has tailored its bird detection systems to protect the
    California Condor, North America's largest and most threatened bird
    species (only about 230 survive in the wild). Since most condors are
    tagged with GPS sensors, the wind farm sets up a system that shuts down
    the turbines when a condor is within two miles of the wind farm-all in
    less than two minutes.

    Bright Blades: A 2010 study suggested that purple wind turbines would in
    theory cause fewer bird strikes than the typical white ones. That's
    because white blades attract insects, and insects attract foraging birds.
    So, cutting down on the insects could dissuade foraging avians from coming
    too close.

    Bright Lights: Lighting systems are also being investigated as a deterrent
    tool: In 2012 the National Science Foundation awarded a $150,000 grant to
    researchers who showed that UV lighting could be used to deter bats and
    birds from wind farm sites. Right now, their patent is pending.
    Turbines That Look Like Trees: As an alternative to the designs we have
    today, inventors are increasingly looking to vertical axis turbines, whose
    "blades" circulate around a central spire, allowing plenty of them to be
    packed into a space together. This allows inventors to try out all kinds
    of artful designs (which could make them less of an eyesore on the
    landscape)-and, it's also thought that these vertical shapes might be less
    detrimental to birds.

    Smart Blades: Renewables company Laufer Wind has partnered with the
    government to see if better understanding of how birds fly might help them
    design improved blades trained to recognize approaching birds. To that
    end, they've been studying the flight of a domesticated falcon, a bird
    called "Houdini." The bird is fitted with a GPS chip that records his
    motions as he soars, yielding data that will create a precise algorithm of
    Houdini's flight. Recently, the team has expanded the research to include
    eagles-one Golden and one Bald. These two trained raptors, named
    "Spirit" and "Nova," are providing GPS-tagged flight information, just
    like Houdini. Armed with better information on how birds fly, the
    researchers would create a radar system more capable of picking birds out
    of the landscape, and shutting down in time for them to safely pass,
    explains Jason Roadman, the project's NREL field test engineer.
    Additionally, the researchers are testing out a camera system that can
    spot birds up to 0.62 miles away, which would prompt a turbine shutdown.

    Too Good To Be True?

    But do any of these methods actually mean fewer birds die? Unfortunately,
    proof is scant. "I would say it's highly experimental; none of it has been
    proven to work," says Garry George, renewable energy director at Audubon
    California. In the case of the obliterated pelican, the wind farm
    operators said their radar was built to detect large incoming flocks, not
    individual birds (federal law enforcement officials visited the scene, but
    there's no public information on whether the farm was charged for the
    bird's death). Other radars-even state-of-the-art facilities such as the
    White Pine County Wind Farm in Nevada, where two Golden Eagles died in
    three years-have bad track records.

    And the plot to train blades to recognize bird flight is equally flawed,
    says Lisa Linowes, the founder of prominent wind industry watchdog
    WindAction. "I think it's yet another opportunity for money to be spent
    [on something] that's already been tried," she says. Besides, even if it
    does work, every species of bird approaches a turbine in a different
    manner, so training blades to recognize all birds could take years of
    research-something the NREL and Laufer Wind researchers acknowledge too.
    Plus, it can take people 45 minutes to shut down turbines after birds have
    been detected, Linowes says-plenty of time for birds to reach them, and
    get hit. Some retrofits, like the condor avoidance scheme, factor this
    issue into the design-but many do not.

    There is one easy way wind companies can avoid bird deaths: Put wind farms
    in places where birds are unlikely to fly in the first place. "Right now
    one of our big considerations is siting," says Christy Johnson-Hughes, a
    biologist from the USFWS's ecological services. Migration pathways and
    certain landscape features-such as wetlands and migratory stopover
    points-are known areas where birds gather. "Putting turbines in those
    exact places is probably risky," says Brian Millsap, USFWS national raptor
    coordinator. "Siting is the one and only thing that we really understand
    at this point."

    The Path Forward

    One of the most notorious wind farms-Altamont Pass Wind Farm in northern
    California-is a lesson in how poor siting can hurt birds. The farm, which
    straddles a windswept mountain pass, is also in the midst of a major avian
    migration route, and has been responsible for tens of thousands of birds'
    deaths since its inception in the 1960s.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now recommends that all new wind
    developments consider several factors before choosing their location.
    Among these, companies are encouraged to avoid birds' migration routes,
    places where raptors' prey congregates, and water-filled landscapes that
    would encourage birds to flock, such as wetlands. These guidelines are
    currently voluntary-but with an update to the MBTA expected in the
    upcoming year, that may change soon.

    In months to come, USFWS plans to overhaul the MBTA, and in a show of
    pragmatism, it's proposing that wind farms be allowed "incidental take
    permits," which would make it legal for wind companies to
    (unintentionally) kill a limited number of protected species each year.
    But companies would only be awarded permits if they can prove they're
    doing everything possible to avoid bird strikes, like ensuring best siting
    and deterring birds from blades.

    "The permit rule would modernize and strengthen the Migratory Bird Treaty
    Act and put in place critical new protections for America's birds from
    coast to coast," says Mike Daulton, who leads Audubon's national policy
    team. By placing pressure on wind companies to abide by these rules-or
    face massive fines-it could protect North America's most threatened
    species. It's "a win-win for the industry and for birds," says
    Daulton. "It will provide legal certainty to the industry and new
    protections for the birds."

    If any retrofits are found to be effective, they may become part of the
    future best management practices for wind farms, too. Recognizing their
    potential, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awards grants to
    researchers who want to test experimental technologies, and the non-profit
    organization American Wind and Wildlife Institute (AWWI) is compiling the
    first comprehensive catalogue of these solutions. AWWI also plans to
    conduct independent reviews of each product.

    There's no doubt that turbines-as we know them now-are flawed inventions,
    and it could be a long, experiment-filled time before we manage to craft
    the perfect design. But in a warming world, where more and more birds are
    going to be threatened by climate change, a pragmatic approach to energy
    creation and safeguarding the planet's birds might be the one we have to

    Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that it takes 45
    minutes for turbines to stop-in fact it is the whole process of turning
    them off that takes 45 minutes.


    --- FleetStreet 1.27.1
    * Origin: Outpost BBS Local Console (1:18/200)
  • From Sean Dennis@1:18/200 to Bob Ackley on Saturday, February 09, 2019 15:17:16
    Hello, Bob!

    Here's a link to a more scientific approach.


    Biological Conservation
    Volume 168, December 2013, Pages 201-209
    Biological Conservation
    Estimates of bird collision mortality at wind facilities in the contiguous
    United States
    Scott R.Loss TomWill Peter P.Marra


    We estimate bird mortality at monopole wind turbines in the
    contiguous U.S.
    Between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed annually at monopole
    Mortality increases with increasing height of monopole turbines.
    Mortality rates appear to be lower in the Great Plains relative to
    other regions.

    Wind energy has emerged as a promising alternative to fossil fuels, yet
    the impacts of wind facilities on wildlife remain unclear. Prior studies
    estimate between 10,000 and 573,000 fatal bird collisions with U.S. wind
    turbines annually; however, these studies do not differentiate between
    turbines with a monopole tower and those with a lattice tower, the former
    of which now comprise the vast majority of all U.S. wind turbines and the
    latter of which are largely being de-commissioned. We systematically
    derived an estimate of bird mortality for U.S. monopole turbines by
    applying inclusion criteria to compiled studies, identifying correlates of
    mortality, and utilizing a predictive model to estimate mortality along
    with uncertainty. Despite measures taken to increase analytical rigor, the
    studies we used may provide a non-random representation of all data;
    requiring industry reports to be made publicly available would improve
    understanding of wind energy impacts. Nonetheless, we estimate that
    between 140,000 and 328,000 (mean = 234,000) birds are killed annually by
    collisions with monopole turbines in the contiguous U.S. We found support
    for an increase in mortality with increasing turbine hub height and
    support for differing mortality rates among regions, with per turbine
    mortality lowest in the Great Plains. Evaluation of risks to birds is
    warranted prior to continuing a widespread shift to taller wind turbines.
    Regional patterns of collision risk, while not obviating the need for
    species-specific and local-scale assessments, may inform broad-scale
    decisions about wind facility siting.

    Anthropogenic mortality
    Carcass sampling biases
    Systematic review
    Wildlife mortality
    Wind energy

    Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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