Wind energy versus bats

Wednesday October 12, 2016 08:47

It is generally well-known that bats cannot always avoid wind turbines. Changes in air pressure cause them to become disoriented so they fly into the mast or the blades of the turbine. The question is, how often does this happen, and what can we do about it? This is currently being researched at ECN's test park in the Wieringermeer.

“What numbers are we talking about? How do bats behave in the vicinity of wind turbines? And how is this affected by  the weather? This is something we know little about. But particularly now that many new wind parks are being built offshore, it is vital that we get a good picture of bat behaviour," says Hans Verhoef from ECN.  The wind farm site decision of the Offshore Wind Energy Act requires that research into bats take place for every proposed new wind park. And under certain circumstances the government can demand that a turbine is shut down to limit disturbance to this protected wildlife. 

Testing on land and at sea
ECN recognises the importance of building offshore wind parks that cause minimum damage to wildlife. For this reason, it is supporting a major national research programme to study bat behaviour. In the Wieringermeer, an ECN wind turbine has been fitted with 12 ultrasonic microphones to register bat sounds. The microphones are placed at three different heights in four wind directions. In addition, thermal imaging cameras are used to register bat flight paths and any collisions. The results of the research should be published in the second half of 2016. Verhoef: “Once the tests at the ECN turbines have been completed, we will start a programme to install measuring equipment at an offshore turbine. Because it turns out that bats also fly over the North Sea.” 

Knowledge gives a head start 
In its research into bat behaviour, ECN works together with ecological research institutes such as IMARES. Hans Verhoef: “We are making our test facilities available to the researchers and linking our knowledge of energy technology and meteorological data to ecological knowledge. Working together and sharing insights give us a head start in bringing the development of offshore wind energy a step closer.” 

Besides its research into bat behaviour, ECN has also developed a detection system for bird strikes: WT-BIRD. ECN is collaborating closely with Bureau Waardenburg to carry out offshore measurements using this system.

Contact & Imore information
If you would like to know more about this research, or to find out how ECN can support your research into the risk of bat collisions and bird strikes, please contact Hans Verhoef or  Peter Eecen using the contact form.

Category: Corporate, Wind Energy, Environment