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Might black wind turbines prevent bird collisions?

By

August 9, 2013

Would partly black turbines be safer for birds? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Would partly black turbines be safer for birds? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Four turbines at the Smøla wind farm in Norway are to have one rotor blade painted black to see whether increasing the visual contrast of the turbine against its background might help to reduce bird strikes.

Energy company Statkraft, which operates the farm, says that several white-tailed eagles (also called sea eagles) are found dead on the ground having flown into turbines at the inland wind farm.

As well as testing black rotor blades, the INTACT project will also examine whether increasing the visibility of the turbine's towers might prevent strikes from birds that fly lower than eagles, such as ducks and grouse.

Additionally, some turbines are to be fitted with ultraviolet lamps. Unlike your eye, a bird's eye is sensitive to the ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Should UV lights prove effective, the intention is to go on to test UV-reflecting paint. Paint has an advantage over UV light in that it can be applied during the production of the turbine.

Smøla wind farm caused controversy within months of its opening in 2005 due to the immediate effect of the turbines on the local white-tailed eagle population. However, since that time, Statkraft claims that the wind farm has become a research hub to better understand the issue.

"Countless hours of research have been spent on this issue since the Smøla wind farm was completed in 2005, and there are few places in the world where so much is known about bird behaviour in the vicinity of wind power generation," says Bjørn Iuell, a biologist and environmental advisor at the company.

On average, the 68-turbine farm generates 356 GWh of electrical energy per year, which Statkraft says is sufficient to power 17,800 Norwegian households.

Energy Norway is "owner" of the project, and NVE, NINA, Statoil, Trønder Energi Kraft and Vattenfall are partners.

Source: Statkraft, via CleanTechnica

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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7 Comments

Or paint a spiral across it so it looks like a rotating spiral.

Or make it like a room fan and put it in a cage.

Andrew Zuckerman
10th August, 2013 @ 03:17 pm PDT

Besides killing birds, this wind generation business is economically farcial. As I type, the $30 billion (with a "b") invested in wind in Texas is providing 0.004 (that's four-tenths of one percent) of the current 50,000 megawatt load on a 90 degree day. What a waste of resources. What a waste of birds.

Paul Nelson
11th August, 2013 @ 10:30 am PDT

You do realize that Texas uses 10% of all US electricity generation. What I'm saying is that your information is HIGHLY misleading.

Texas imports a good portion of its energy needs, and your information takes liberty with a lot of information not provided. The point is, if it wasn't profitable, it wouldn't be growing in such a rapid pace. As for the tax incentives, yeah you really can't say anything while the oil companies are receiving even larger tax subsidies.

Silverbird
12th August, 2013 @ 11:34 am PDT

SIlverbird:

EIA-

Findings Regarding Electricity-Related Subsidies and Support

Electricity-related subsidies and support are estimated at $11.9 billion in FY 2010, up from $7.7 billion in FY 2007

...

2010, transmission and distribution system-related subsidies actually declined.

Direct expenditures accounted for 39 percent of total electricity-related subsidies in FY 2010 (Table ES4). These

expenditures were mostly the result of the ARRA Section 1603 grant program, 84-percent of which went to wind

generation. As noted, the relatively high value for this program stems from the fact that the grant program places

all of the costs in the year that a project is initiated, while the existing production tax credit that the grant

substituted for spread the costs of the tax credit over the first 10 years of a project's operation. If developers

return to using the production tax credit in the future, the first-year costs for each project will be much lower.

Tax expenditures comprise over 28 percent of the total subsidies and support related to electricity production.

Renewables accounted for 40 percent of all electricity-related tax expenditures in FY 2010, mostly due to the

Sections 45 and 48 production and investment tax credits which predominantly went to wind facilities."

Since we make almost no electricity from oil, I am not sure why you mention it. But no form of electricity generation strip mines the US tax code like wind energy.

Kevon Martis
12th August, 2013 @ 03:07 pm PDT

Solar farms don't completely cover the ground. The need to space the rows of panels to prevent shading other panels ensures this. Yes, the panels can, and sometimes are, raised to permit dual land use, eg grazing, horticulture and car parking - and more of this should be done - where it is needed. Roofs should, of course, be used as much as possible. Not only is this excellent "dual land use", but it means that power is generated very near where power is used. Solar PV is a truly brilliant way to generate electricity and with a bit of lateral thinking some excellent uses for the under-panel space will make it even better.

Bill Gresham
13th August, 2013 @ 06:01 am PDT

Why are wind turbines white? Is it the same reason caravans are white instead of green i.e. no reason at all. We have established camouflage patters used on warships which work for people, but the birds don't seem to be fooled. Could camo turbines be better for birds and people? Here in Wales, the national flower is the daffodil. Debating the installation of turbines all over the beautiful Welsh mountains an old man suggested to me that they would look better if the towers were green and the blades yellow, like big daffodils. This just might look OK, don't know about the birds, more research opportunities for someone!

Doug MacLeod
12th September, 2013 @ 03:48 am PDT

i don't know if color might do it,however maybe ultra frequency sound might do it,or something like safety metal mesh screens built around the blades.something should be done,too many birds are being killed .

Salvatore Cento
28th May, 2014 @ 12:11 pm PDT
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