First wind energy-bat study

Good news for bat lovers! Wind energy supplier Iberdrola Renewables is conducting a study on the interaction between bats and wind turbines because of the growing concern of high death rates of bats near wind farms.

Iberdrola has partnered with conservation group Bat Conservation International (BCI) for wildlife data collection at a southwestern Pennsylvania wind power project. Researchers from both groups are conducting a controlled experiment from late July to early October in which selected wind turbines at the Casselman Wind Power Project in Pennsylvania were stopped during certain wind conditions.

The researchers are trying to check if shutting down turbines at certain wind speeds and during periods when bats appear most vulnerable (such as during late-summer migration seasons) will reduce bat deaths.

“Although it was crucial for this study, curtailing turbine operations is not likely to be the complete solution to reducing the impact on bats in all circumstances, just one part of it,” company officials said. “The new information generated by the Casselman project will be useful in improving many techniques for reducing wildlife risk at those wind power sites where there are significant impacts to bats.

The results of the study will be made public after being reviewed by the scientific advisory committee of the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC), which is a coalition of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and BCI.

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