Researchers Think They Have a Way to Stop Wind Turbines Smacking Birds Out of the Air

By Tom Pritchard on at

There's a lot of promise in wind-generated energy, and as I write this live tracking systems show that it's generating 22.7% of the UK demand - second only to CCGT-generated energy. Turbines aren't exactly known for being bird friendly, however, which has led people to try and find a solution to the problem of endangered species being smacked out of the sky. Now researchers at the Oregon State University think they have the answer.

They've come up with a system that helps wildlife coexist with wind turbines more easily, and specifically stops birds from flying into the blades like the brainless simpletons they are. It also helps researchers gauge how serious the problem is without scouring the countryside for dead birds.

This smart impact detection system, as its being described, and is comprised of three parts that employ vibration sensors mounted to the blades themselves, a video camera, and various acoustic sensors. The first part is an eagle detection system designed to sound the alarm whenever any birds are flying dangerously close to the turbines themselves.

The second is a ground-based detection system designed to emulate people moving around on the ground which researchers hope will scare the birds away before they get hit. It's described as similar to the anti-bird systems employed at airports, though instead of mimicking predatory birds to scare off their smaller prey it's designed to get rid of those larger birds. The final part is a system that detects blade collisions and identifies the birds in the local area.

There's still a lot of testing that needs to be done, but so far researchers have been firing tennis balls at wind turbines to showcase the system's ability to respond to fast-moving objects. testing in real-world conditions is set to begin in summer or autumn of this year. [Digital Trends]

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