REWI’s cutting-edge work in technology innovation is a catalyst and expert forum for the development of advanced technologies to avoid and minimize the impacts of wind energy on wildlife. These critical solutions enable maximizing power production and facilitating the expansion of wind energy while improving conservation outcomes.
About Technology Innovation
The Challenge: Verifying Results
Technologies can help minimize risk to wildlife from wind energy operation, but regulators and wind energy companies are hesitant to adopt technological solutions if their effectiveness is not well documented. Properly evaluating technologies requires testing them at several turbines across multiple facilities, using robust methods for data collection.
The Approach: Technology to Minimize Impacts
Technologies can avoid or minimize wildlife collisions with wind turbines through one or more of the following components:
- Detect approaching wildlife using cameras, radar, thermal imaging, or acoustics with sophisticated software or artificial intelligence.
- Curtail (automatically shut down) wind turbines when risk of collision is determined to be high for key species based on environmental factors or detection technology.
- Deter wildlife from approaching using audio, visual, or other stimuli.
The Solution: Technology Innovation and Evaluation
REWI engages with researchers to conduct scientific evaluations of emerging and available technologies at commercial wind energy facilities, raises project funding, and oversees the design and execution of the tests to ensure that results can be compared across multiple projects and are scientifically rigorous.
- Promotes transparency by study designs and results are peer-reviewed and publicly available.
- Coordinates with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies to ensure evaluations consider their insights and regulatory requirements.
By pooling resources and expertise from wind industry partners, REWI can coordinate and replicate rigorous verification studies, leading to more rapid and widespread adoption of successful technologies.
Broadening the Reach of Technology Innovation
REWI is working to expand the reach and increase awareness of technology innovations through outreach and strategic partnerships, such as through collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and EPRI. To promote both industry adoption of technologies and acceptance from broader stakeholder groups, REWI will share objective, peer-reviewed findings. Upcoming outreach activities include webinars and seminars for different stakeholder groups focusing on the bridge between technology, end-users, and biological objectives.
REWI Technology Evaluation Projects
- UV light as a potential deterrent for raptors: Results published in the Journal of Raptor Research September 2015.
- Proof-of-performance test of the IdentiFlight camera-based detection/curtailment system: Results published online in Biological Conservation May 2018.
- Pilot test of the DTBird raptor detection-deterrent system: Results published in the Results Catalog September 2018.
- Patterns of Bat Activity and Mortality: Results published in the Results Catalog October 2020.
- Wind Wildlife Research Fund: Review of the Effectiveness of Operational Curtailment for Reducing Bat Fatalities: Results published in PLOS ONE.
DOE-Supported Eagle Technology Projects
REWI was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate DTBird’s ability to deter eagles from flying too close to turbine blades. The technology is being evaluated over several years at multiple operational wind facilities in collaboration with scientific researchers, technology developers, and wind energy companies.
Bat Technology Evaluations
In 2019, REWI was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate the Vesper Bat Protection System, a smart curtailment strategy. REWI is also supporting numerous projects through its management of the industry-led Renewable Energy Wildlife Research Fund. These projects include evaluations of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents, smart curtailment technologies, and other strategies intended to reduce risk for bats while optimizing energy production.