How Radar Could Protect Bats From Wind Turbines
Most bats aren't killed from collision with the turbines, but from the changes in air pressure caused by the moving blades, which damages their lungs. Photo: Lee Carson via flickr.
The great threat to birds from wind turbines may be, in most places, overstated, but the threat to bats is only beginning to be understood and at least now seems serious enough to pay attention to. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have discovered that radar could be deployed to protect bats from the turbines. LiveScience explains how it'd work:Humans & Bats Can Hear RadarWorking on the assumption that humans can actually hear radar pulses -- something supported by previous research and anecdotes going back to the early days of radar in World War 2 -- and that since bats hearing is more sensitive than human's bats may be able to more easily pick up on the radar pulses, the researchers deployed portable radar units at 20 bat foraging sites in Scotland.
Radar Drove Away Bats, Not Their FoodThey monitored bat activity for 58 nights; and found that bat activity dropped 30-40% They looked at insect populations as well (bat's food), determining that as insect population was no different the radar was directly influencing the bats and not just driving them away because there was less food available.
The researchers speculated that in the future a radar deterrent system optimized for bats could be developed for wind farms -- one which could reduce bat activity around wind farms by 80-90%.
Here's the research: PLoS ONE: The Aversive Effect of Electromagnetic Radiation on Foraging Bats—A Possible Means of Discouraging Bats from Approaching Wind TurbinesWind Power Bats and Wind Turbines Don't Mix - Researchers Look to Reduce Mysterious DeathsCats More Lethal to Birds Than Wind TurbinesWind Power Avian & Bat Protection Plan Released by Iberdrola Renewables