Texas Wind Farm Uses NASA Radar to Prevent Bird Deaths


photo: Chrishna via flickr

What do you do if you build a wind farm smack dab in the middle of a major bird migration route, and want to avert the anger of conservationists? Put up a radar system that's designed to shut down the entire thing when it detects a mass of birds on the way. That's what's been done at the 202 MW Peñascal Wind Farm in Texas: System Detects Birds Approaching Four Miles Away
The system uses radar originally developed for NASA and the US Air Force to detect birds as far as four miles away, The Guardian reports. When it picks up the approaching birds, it analyzes the existing weather conditions and determines in real time whether those birds are in danger of flying into the blades. The system then automatically restarts the turbines when the birds have passed.

During Inclement Weather Birds May Fly Lower
The reason that the system takes into account the weather is that in ordinary conditions the migratory birds—at peaks times which can number 4,000 an hour—pass well over the wind farm, flying thousands of feet up. But when the weather turns nasty, the birds, which typically fly at night, can become disoriented. The risk which the radar system attempts to minimize is that when they're disoriented the birds will lose altitude and crash into the turbines.

Buildings & Cats More Threat to Birds Than Turbines
It's estimated that about 7,000 birds are killed annually in the US by wind turbines (and that in some areas bats are more in danger than birds), but all told that's a far lower number than are killed by birds simply flying into buildings or are killed by your neighbor's cat.

via: The Guardian
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Tags: Birds | Renewable Energy | Texas | United States | Wind Power

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