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Wind turbines or bird cuisinarts?  

New technologies are making an effort to mitigate environmental concerns over bird fatalities caused by wind turbines in Europe.

A new monitoring program called WT-Bird has passed preliminary tests and will enter the next phase of testing. The WT-Bird, created by the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, uses several techniques to monitor bird collisions.

“It’s important because this hampers the planning process and harms the reputation of the wind industry,” said Edwin Wiggelinkhuizen of ERC.

Acoustic sensors in the blades go off when the bird or bat or other object hits the rotor, causing vibrations. The sensor triggers a message to the operator and there’s a corresponding video feed from cameras, near the base of the turbine, that point up at the rotor from four angles.

The WT-Bird is slightly more advanced than the standard research methods, which rely heavily on physical human observation and radars that can be inaccurate. However, there are still problems calculating mortality, said Wiggelinkhuizen; especially with low-speed turbines, not every bird that collides with the blades will die.

The technology also detects when lightning strikes so any damage can be repaired quickly.


10 May 2007

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