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Ornithologists want windmill research 

Credit:  By Edyta Zielinska | The Scientist | the-scientist.com 21 June 2012 ~~

Researchers call for access to more data from energy companies to find strategies that will limit bird and bat deaths from wind turbines.

Although wind turbines aren’t the biggest killer of flying animals, they appear threaten species that are high conservation priorities, such as the US golden eagle and bats. Researchers hope that by working with renewable-energy companies to collect data and developing methods to mitigate the risk to these animals, they can reduce the overall damage caused by the enormous blades that can spin at nearly 170 miles per hour.

In Spain, ornithologists have employed the unusual method of watching the skies for migratory raptors headed in the direction of 13 wind farms in the southern part of the country, and calling engineers in company control towers, who then stop the turbines until the birds have passed. The method appears to have reduced mortality by 50 percent, with only a 0.07 loss in energy production, reported Nature.

Unfortunately, the technique won’t work everywhere. In locations such as the Altamont Pass in California, wind farms are in the way of migratory as well as permanent bird populations. There, exchanging smaller turbines with larger ones and slightly shifting their placement has reduced golden eagle fatalities by 50 percent and raptor mortality by 75 percent.

Although companies collect data on animal fatality, few publish that data for fear of lawsuits or political attacks. However, the American Wind Wildlife Institute, made up of both conservation and industry organizations, is attempting to change that by creating a data repository that researchers would have access to, while protecting companies. The project is expected to be completed this summer.

Source:  By Edyta Zielinska | The Scientist | the-scientist.com 21 June 2012

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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