Innovative Mitigation Tools for Avian Conflicts with wind Turbines

To meet the climate challenges, 67.5 % of all energy production in Norway will be renewable by 2020, and wind energy is seen as an important contributor to reach this goal. Both Norway’s long coastline and open sea areas are regarded as promising for future wind-power development. Although there still are significant technological challenges to be met, over the next decades the offshore wind sector may evolve considerably given the extensive offshore potential. All power generation, however, has environmental costs; a challenge to be met by the Norwegian Government, as regulated in the Planning and Building Act and the Nature Diversity Act. In Norway the diverse and long coast, including offshore archipelagos and shallow waters, constitutes the most important European habitats for migrating and resident sea and coastal birds. Because of the fast rate of wind-power development in coastal areas and offshore, it will become a challenge to verify negative impacts on birdlife and construe ways to minimize these. Appropriate planning and siting procedures can reduce the impact of wind energy development on ecosystems and local communities, and techniques for assessing, minimizing and mitigating the remaining concerns could be further improved. Comprehensive consent procedures are established to ensure that the best sites are chosen for wind energy production to avoid environmental impacts. Wind-turbine induced bird mortality is mainly due to physical collisions, and so far no effective deterrent or mitigation measures have been developed to reduce the risk of collisions. Technology innovation (R&D), together with proactive efforts to mitigate and manage social and environmental concerns, is expected to lead to incremental cost reductions for wind energy, not in the least in offshore situations. Development of practical and functional tools, measures or products to reduce bird mortality related to offshore and onshore wind energy production is therefore paramount to avoid delay in consenting processes and streamline the construction and operation phase. Effective measures reduce the level of avian conflicts, enabling development at new sites and at sites previously declared having too high conflict levels, and a better utilization of wind resources at specific sites without increasing the conflict levels.

The primary objective for the R&D project is to develop measures and procedures to reduce the risk of bird – wind turbine collisions. The main focus of the research will be to test promising deterrent measures (contrast painting rotor blades, contrast painting tower bases, UV lighting, operational mitigation) and develop tools to facilitate this, and to test and refine GIS-based micro-siting tools. The perceived tools and measures, to be developed and tested at the onshore Smøla wind-power plant, are envisioned to enable transference for development of environmental-friendly wind energy offshore.