Volume 34, Issue 3, Summer 2015
Wind Farm Windfall
Department of Energy funds BCI efforts to develop, test ultrasonic bat deterrent devices
Wind turbines can endanger bat populations. In our efforts to address the problem of protecting wildlife while enhancing the responsible operation of this source of clean energy, BCI has found support from the U.S. Department of Energy, which announced in April that it would provide more than $1.75 million to fund five projects aimed at developing and demonstrating technologies that can reduce the potential negative impacts of wind farms on sensitive bat species. As a strategic partner working with one of the five projects, BCI will receive a portion of these funds for this initiative.
Ten years of BCI research has made it clear that many species of bats can be spared fatal collisions with turbine blades by preventing blades from spinning in low-wind conditions, when insects and bats are present in abundance. But not all species respond equally well to this strategy. As an alternative, BCI has been developing an ultrasonic acoustic deterrent (UAD)—emitting a loud sound humans can't hear—that bats will avoid. Placing UADs on turbines may allow wind farms to operate normally while dramatically decreasing bat kills.
The success of BCI's prototype device has encouraged the Department of Energy, the Spanish wind company Iberdrola and others to support further development of this technology. The current grant will allow BCI researchers to conduct reliability tests for the next generation of this device, carrying out a full-scale validation of its effectiveness at a wind plant, while comparing that effectiveness to the current system of turbine curtailment.
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