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Sadly, it is a fact that wind turbines kill birds. Estimates from the American Bird Conservancy say that in the United States, one million birds killed per year is a low number. The actual number is likely much higher. However, developing reliable renewable energy sources is a key component in fighting Climate change. So, what is the solution? Researchers from SINTEF and the Norwegian Centre for Environmentally-friendly Research believe they may have an idea. They have proposed a new system called SKARV.
SKARV involves fitting each turbine with a camera that has the ability to detect any birds that are in danger of flying into the turbine’s rotors. The system’s software will then calculate whether the bird is in danger of being hit based on their trajectory. If it looks like they may be struck, the system will slow down the blades allowing the bird to escape danger.
While simulations show that the SKARV system may be effective in preventing some collisions, it has its limits. Unpredictable flight patterns, such as those displayed by young birds, may keep the system from being effective. Additionally, if birds fly into the turbine from the side or circle the turbine, the camera may not detect them. Groups of birds may also be more difficult for the system to handle.
To deal with large numbers of birds, SKARV can be made to shut the turbine down completely. This would allow the flock to continue on, but may cause disruption to the production of renewable energy. Researchers also point out that it can take 20 seconds for a turbine’s blades to come to a complete stop.
SKARV still needs some work, but researchers believe that it could prevent up to 80 percent of bird deaths attributed to wind turbines. This number is based on simulations. If industry interest is sufficient, the SKARV system could be available in the next five years. In the meantime, there is evidence to suggest that birds are beginning to avoid wind turbines on their own. Nevertheless, this is an important problem to solve as many bird species continue to face continued population decline.
Sign this petition to Help Protect Birds from Crashing Into Windows!
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