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OSU gets $600K to study wind power’s affect on birds, bats

Oregon State University researchers are going to spend the next three years studying the impact that off-shore wind energy development might have on birds and bats.

OSU’s Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center announced Tuesday it got $600,000 from the federal Energy Department.

OSU biologist Rob Suryan says the grant will help him and other researchers develop instruments to measure how wind turbines affect birds and bats. Suryan says the instruments will have to tune out flying debris, and really focus on wildlife.

Suryan explained, “That is a challenge to make sure we’re not falsely identifying any objects that might be hitting the blades. But also, I think a big concern to me, is that we can detect even the smallest object – the smallest birds, the smallest bats – that might impact the blades.”

Suryan is part of a research team working on the instrument array in Corvallis, Newport, and at the University of Washington. He says it’s part of a broader effort to site and monitor wind energy facilities – both on land and on water.

The primary testing of the instruments will be on land. But OSU officials say the research will be relevant to off-shore wind development, too.