Eagles Make Wind Energy Safer

07/20/2016 | By Keith Evanson

Flight pattern research helps contribute to bird-friendly turbines

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been conducting tests to determine the flight patterns of birds. Two eagles from Auburn University have been chosen to participate in this study. At the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) in Boulder, Co., GPS trackers were secured on the eagles and their flights were recorded at multiple angles with avian detection systems. With both GPS and the avian detection systems, developers will project future flights using behavior algorithms.

Tracking flight patterns helps researchers better understand the behaviors of birds in the air and around wind turbines. This data could decrease the number of bird deaths caused by colliding into rotating blades.

The end goal for researchers is to eliminate the epidemic of bird killings by wind turbines. The statistics of bird fatalities caused by turbines are uncertain, but a study concluded by the Wildlife Society Bulletin in 2013 estimated that wind turbines killed about 573,000 birds in 2012.

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