Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) are working to develop technology for protecting eagles from wind turbines, the university said on its website this week.
The team is trying to create a three-part system for detecting and deterring eagles and for identifying blade strikes.
The work is supported by a 27-month, USD-625,000 (EUR 573,000) grant awarded by the US Department of Energy's (DoE) Wind Technology Office to Roberto Albertani of the OSU College of Engineering. An external advisory board includes Siemens Wind Power and Avangrid Renewables.
The system will involve a camera mounted on the tower that will be able to determine if an approaching bird is an eagle and whether it is flying toward the blades. If that is so, eagles will be kept from coming closer to the turbines by triggering a ground-level deterrent -- randomly moving, brightly colored facsimiles of people. The solution is based on eagles' apparent aversion to humans, although there is no research available on the matter.
Using a vibration sensor and micro-camera the system will also aim to detect whether an eagle has hit a blade.
"If we strike a generic bird, sad as that is, it’s not as critical as striking a protected golden eagle, which would cause the shutdown of a wind farm for a period of time, a fine to the operator, big losses in revenue, and most important the loss of a member of a protected species," Albertani said.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.917)
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