Matteo Alberghini

Finding Innovative Solutions to Reducing the Threat of Wind Turbines to Bats

Collisions with wind energy turbines are one of the leading causes of bat mortality in North America and Europe and a growing concern for bat conservation around the world.  Observed fatality rates of bats at wind energy facilities have the potential to cause rapid declines in bat populations and increase the risk of extinction.  Innovative solutions can reduce bat fatalities while supporting the continued growth of wind energy generation to help reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.

Objectives

Accelerate research to address knowledge gaps in relevant bat ecology and behavior
Develop technologies and industry methods to reduce the fatality of bats at wind farms
Promote implementation of solutions that ensure long-term persistence of bats

Program Details

We continue our efforts to conduct high-impact research to develop solutions to reduce mortality of bats at wind energy facilities. We focus on discovering and testing scalable and practical solutions that enable renewable energy production that is compatible with bat conservation. Our work encompasses not only technological solutions, but also improving our understanding of bat behavior around wind turbines to lead to new insights and innovations.  We work with a diversity of stakeholders, including government agencies, private industry, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations, to accelerate solutions to this global challenge.

 
Michael Schirmacher

The impacts of wind energy facilities on bats

  • Hundreds of thousands of bats are estimated to die each year at wind energy facilities
  • Bat species that make long distance seasonal migrations are the most vulnerable to fatalities
  • High fatality rates at wind energy facilities have raised concerns about rapid and severe population declines of the hoary bat in North America
 
Hoary bat killed at a wind turbine facility in Pennsylvania
Michael Schirmacher

BCI works with diverse partners, including energy developers, to:

  • Develop technological tools to better understand fatality risk and attraction to inform scalable solutions and high-priority research
  • Test cost-effective strategies to reduce bat fatalities using smart curtailment approaches that reduce risk to bats while maximizing power generation opportunities
  • Evaluate the efficacy of acoustic deterrents on wind turbines to reduce bat fatalities
 
A dead eastern red bat found at a wind turbine facility in Pennsylvania
Michael Schirmacher

What causes bat fatalities at wind turbines?

Most bat fatalities are caused by bats colliding with rotating blades of wind turbines. Fatalities are highest during autumn migration and on nights with low wind speeds. Some bats may be attracted to wind turbines, increasing risk of impacts to bat populations.

Multiple Turbine Blade Encounters by a Bat

BCI has been a pioneer in using thermal imaging to learn how bats interact with wind turbines. In this video, thermal imaging reveals how a bat explores and then is struck by rotating blades of a wind turbine. The bat is the small white object that is first seen moving behind the turbine in the lower right of the screen. The bat maneuvers around the rotating blades before being struck. As it falls, it is hit by another blade. Bats dying from collisions like these are a growing threat to populations with expanding wind energy development. Our work to understand and monitor flight behavior of bats at turbines is helping develop bat friendly wind power.

 
Michael Schirmacher

We are committed to finding a solution

  • We are a founding member and partner of the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) – a stakeholder-supported alliance established in 2004 to advance research, facilitate dialogue, and foster collaboration
  • We accelerate research and develop technologies and industry methods to reduce fatalities of bats at wind turbine facilities
  • We analyze data to assess population-level impacts of bat fatalities to inform conservation planning for migratory bat species killed at wind energy facilities

We Support Climate Change Solutions & Protecting Bats from Wind Turbines

Key Collaborators

  • Academic researchers
  • Environmental consultant companies
  • Government agencies
  • Industry groups (ex.American Wind Energy Association & Electric Power Research institute)
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Technology developers and distributors
  • Wind facility developers & operators
  • Wind turbine manufacturers

Our research has helped develop scalable solutions that reduce the risk of bats colliding with wind turbines. Supporting wind energy development in our global fight against climate change while ensuring persistence of bats requires broad-scale implementation of these solutions.

Michael Schirmacher Senior Field Research Specialist
Arteum.ro