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Draft Avian and Bat Survey Protocols for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems  

Author:  | Minnesota, Wildlife

October 2, 2012

“The State of Minnesota has experienced substantial new development of wind energy projects as interest in renewable sources of energy production increases. Wind energy conversion systems provide electricity using an energy source lacking some of the environmental challenges of other sources, with less concern regarding air and water pollution and release of greenhouse gases. Wind energy does, however, have the potential to affect avian and bat species with direct impacts such as collision and barotrauma (tissue damage due to pressure changes), or indirect impacts such as habitat loss, avoidance of habitat, and other behavioral changes. Careful siting of wind projects is considered one of the most useful tools for avoiding and minimizing impacts to birds and bats. Understanding species behavior in relation to the project area helps facilitate proper infrastructure siting, which can be used as a mechanism to avoid and minimize avian and bat impacts. Understanding actual project impacts by assessing fatalities occurring during operation can also inform wind farm operation and help better plan for future project siting.

“Using existing data in Minnesota, regarding effects to avian and bat species, has become increasingly difficult due to the expansion of projects across ecological provinces and the use of taller turbines with greater rotor diameters. Although data from other states provides direction for project planning it is often unpublished, results from various survey methods, and describes effects from habitats with different species use than Minnesota. Data specific to projects in Minnesota will assist with understanding possible avian and bat impacts as expanding renewable energy development increases the possibility for cumulative impacts to species populations. Pre- and post-construction surveys are beginning to be conducted in Minnesota. However, methods for surveys are determined by individual project proposers or state and federal agencies on a project-by-project basis. The following standardized pre- and post-construction survey methods are intended to provide for more efficient agency coordination and project development. They also assist in providing a more robust record for decision makers, reduce uncertainty in project development for the wind industry, and provide for more comparable and broad application of results.”

Download original document: “Draft Avian and Bat Survey Protocols for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems in Minnesota

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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