This Incredibly Simple Trick to Wind Turbines Could Cut Bird Deaths by 70 %

By: | August 31st, 2020

Image courtesy: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

Wind energy is the fastest-growing mode of electricity production across the planet. Wind power is a reliable and clean source of energy. According to the World Wind Energy Association, Windpower capacity worldwide reaches 650,8 GW, where 59,7 GW added in 2019.

However, this clean, renewable energy comes with a high cost to the  wildlife. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, about 140,000 to 328,000 birds are killed from turbine collisions.

A new study suggests that a small tweak to the turbine design could decrease the rates of birds colliding with turbines. Researchers discovered that  painting a single blade of a turbine with black resulted in a 70% reduction in bird deaths.

Birds crash into the white-colored turbine because they are not very visually aware when flying. Researchers demonstrate that by painting one blade to a darker color makes wind turbines much more visible.

The research was carried out in 2013 at the Smøla wind farm. By coloring one blade, researchers created a higher contrast that will make blades more visible to the birds. Researchers opted for a cost-effective and simpler option of painting rather than replace the blades with new material. 

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director for conservation, said, “Wind turbines are the right technology when we find the right places for them, so studies like this are valuable and build on our understanding of what additional mitigation could be used once we identify locations suitable for wind farms,” 

“As the report acknowledges, this studied a single site and more work needs to be done, so we would be interested in seeing more research in this area.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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