The Research Fund supports priority research projects that expand the understanding of the challenges and the potential solutions for solar/wind-wildlife interactions.
All project proposals, scopes of work, and results undergo independent expert review and are published as peer-reviewed journal articles or as REWI technical reports.
Watch this page for updates on new wind and solar projects anticipated to start this year.
Wind-Focused Research Projects – 2022
Enhancing Understanding of Bat and Bird Activities and Fatality Risk
*New in 2022* Validating a Bat Fatality Detection System: This project is a proof-of-concept study to test and validate a camera technology that is designed to detect when bat fatalities occur, thus providing details on the exact conditions for improving risk assessments and minimization strategies. If effective, this system could be deployed by individual facilities for informing site-specific smart-curtailment.
*New in 2022* Insect Feeding as a Driver of Risk: In the pursuit of minimization tools to reduce wind/wildlife impacts, this study aims to conduct literature reviews to better understand insect feeding as a risk factor by 1) reviewing broadly what is known about insectivorous bat diets using existing literature with focus to evaluate bat foraging near wind turbines; and 2) evaluating if existing crop-pest insect emergence models predict temporal and spatial patterns of bat fatalities.
*Continuing in 2022* Understanding differences between collision risk of male and female bats of different species to inform minimization strategies: Evaluate ratios of male vs. female bat fatalities at operating wind farms through genetics-based sex determination to understand when and where males and females of seven North American bat species experience peak collision risk.
*Finishing in 2022* Evaluating the effect of turbine size on bird and bat mortality: Analyze the effect of turbine height and rotor diameter on bird and bat fatality rates using data contributed to the American Wind Wildlife Information Center (AWWIC) to assess whether bird and bat fatality risk increases with turbine size.
Relationship between bat acoustic activity and collision fatalities: Pair pre-construction bat acoustic activity surveys with publicly available fatality estimates from the same wind facilities to evaluate the ability of pre-construction acoustic activity to predict bat collision risk. View 2019 journal publication
Landscape factors associated with fatalities of migratory tree-roosting bats at wind energy facilities: Evaluate American Wind Wildlife Information Center (AWWIC) fatality data to further assess the relationship between landscape-level attributes and variation in fatalities of hoary bat and other tree bat species among wind energy facilities. View 2019 report.
Investigating of the effect of insects on bat fatalities at wind turbines: Develop the first phase of a project – a detailed study design – to evaluate whether UV light will attract insects away from the rotor swept area of wind turbines and reduce bat activity and collision risk.
Refining Smart Curtailment Practices for Bats
*Continuing in 2022* Reassessing bat collision risk using acoustic exposure: Use acoustic data to quantify the meteorological, seasonal, and temporal conditions under which different bat species are active to develop a quantitative framework for predicting and managing periods of increased risk exposure.
*Continuing in 2022* Using the passage of weather fronts to predict hoary bat mortality: Assess the relationship between the passage of weather fronts and hoary bats collisions at operating wind farms to develop a tool that predicts periods of increased collision risk based on real-time regional weather data.
*Finishing in 2022* Assessing the Efficacy of Detection and Active Response Curtailment (DARC) Technology: Test the efficacy of the Detection and Active Response Curtailment (DARC) technology – developed to integrate with turbine control systems and use real-time data on bat presences and wind speed to execute curtailment commands – at an operational wind facility. This project is collaboratively funded with the DOE.
Using local and regional weather data to improve smart curtailment strategies for bats: Scope the feasibility of using bat fatality models developed with machine learning technology and regional weather data to provide targeted, proactive turbine curtailments, resulting in reduced bat fatalities and reduced production losses. View REWI technical report.
Comparing the effectiveness of curtailment strategies in reducing bat fatalities: Compile data from post construction monitoring studies contributed to the American Wind Wildlife Information Center (AWWIC) to evaluate species-specific variation in bat fatalities among different curtailment regimes. View 2021 journal publication.
Refining Eagle Fatality Estimates and Informed Curtailment
*Finishing in 2022* Using machine learning to model eagle behavior and improve turbine curtailment strategies: Develop turbine-specific algorithms that incorporate eagle flight behavior recorded by camera-based detection systems into curtailment decisions to improve curtailment algorithms for these systems and ultimately reduce eagle collision risk. View 2021 journal publication.
*Finishing in 2022* Improving adjustments for raptor carcass persistence: Analyze regional variation in the persistence of game bird versus raptor carcasses used in carcass persistence trials to produce more accurate estimates of fatalities of eagles and other raptors
*Finishing in 2022* Incorporating incidental eagle carcass detection to improve eagle take estimates: Evaluate methods of incorporating incidental carcass detections by wind facility operations staff into the overall estimated probability of detection at an operating wind facility to provide a methodology for operators to more accurately estimate eagle take.
Evaluating Habitat-Based Impacts for Grouse
*New in 2022* Lek Persistence of Lesser Prairie-Chicken in Vicinity of Wind Energy Infrastructure: Building on the Fund’s “Wind Energy Impact on Lesser Prairie-Chicken” project, this study further investigates the presence of leks near a wind facility in southwestern Missouri to further evaluate the potential effects on the LEPC population and if siting measures can be improved. At the conclusion of this study, there will be 8-years of long-term monitoring of lesser prairie-chicken within the vicinity of wind energy infrastructure.
*Finishing in 2022* Assessing lesser prairie-chicken response to a wind energy development: Continue the fifth year of data collection and analysis of a study investigating the potential effects of wind facilities on the lesser prairie-chicken to provide data previously lacking to inform siting decisions within lesser prairie-chicken habitat. View 2019 report.
Solar-Focused Research Projects – 2022
*New in 2022* Wildlife Abundance and Use of Utility-Scale Solar Facilities in Agricultural Environments: The research team is developing a study design for a prospective project to better understand the effects of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar energy development on bird communities in the midwestern United States. The Fund will determine whether to move forward with the full study upon completion of the study design.
*New in 2022* Soil Health Impacts of Solar PV Installation and Agri-Voltaic Practice on Agricultural Land: The conversion of agricultural land into utility-scale PV solar energy facilities has raised important questions about its ecological effects. This study investigates the effects of this land conversion and on-site vegetation management practices on soil health and ecosystem function.
*New in 2022* Greater Sage-Grouse Use of a Solar Energy Facility in Southwest Wyoming: Development of PV solar energy facilities in greater sage-grouse habitat presents uncertainty for developers and wildlife managers as sage-grouse responses to PV solar facilities are largely unknown. The study provides a unique opportunity to further examine how sage-grouse use a landscape containing solar facilities.