Eagle Fatalities are Reduced by Automated Curtailment of Wind Turbines

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Collision-caused fatalities of animals at wind power facilities create a ‘green versus green’ conflict between wildlife conservation and renewable energy. Automated monitoring systems could improve efficacy of informed curtailment, yet such technology is undertested. 

Researchers tested whether an automated curtailment system—a camera system that detects flying objects, classifies them, and decides whether to curtail individual turbines to avoid potential collision—was effective at reducing counts of fatalities of eagles, at a wind power facility in Wyoming. After correcting for carcass detection probability using the USGS-derived analysis software GenEst and scaling fatality estimates to turbine-years, they estimated an 82 percent reduction in the fatality rate at the treatment site relative to the control site. Results suggest this technology has the potential to lessen the conflict between wind energy and raptor conservation. Authors note that automated curtailment is not a panacea and its efficacy could be improved if considered in conjunction with other mitigation actions. 

McClure, C.J., Rolek, B.W., Dunn, L., McCabe, J., Martinson, L., Katzner, T.E., 2021, Automated curtailment of wind turbines reduces eagle fatalities: Journal of Applied Ecology, https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13831 

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Date published: November 13, 2017
Status: Active

Interaction Between Alternative Energy Development and Raptors

Energy production has become essential for modern society. At the same time, this process can have negative effects on wildlife and ecosystems. It is in the best interest of society and the environment to understand these effects and to manage and mitigate for them. Our team focuses on measuring how energy development influences birds of prey and learning how to minimize impacts.

Contacts: Todd E Katzner