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Influencing activity of bats by dimly lighting wind turbine surfaces with ultraviolet light

December 21, 2021
Wind energy producers need deployable devices for wind turbines that prevent bat fatalities. Based on the speculation that bats approach turbines after visually mistaking them for trees, we tested a potential light-based deterrence method. It is likely that the affected bats see ultraviolet (UV) light at low intensities. Here, we present the results of a multi-month experiment to cast dim, flickering UV light across wind turbine surfaces at night. Our objectives were to refine and test a practical system for dimly UV-illuminating turbines while testing whether the experimental UV treatment influenced the activity of bats, birds, and insects. We mounted upward-facing UV light arrays on turbines and used thermal-imaging cameras to quantify the presence and activity of night-flying animals. The results demonstrated that the turbines can be lit to the highest reaches of the blades with “invisible” UV light, and the animal responses to such experimental treatment can be concurrently monitored. The UV treatment did not significantly change nighttime bat, insect, or bird activity at the wind turbine. Our findings show how observing flying animals with thermal cameras at night can help test emerging technologies intended to variably affect their behaviors around wind turbines.