Wind Turbine Color Makes Difference in Bird & Bat Deaths


Common turbine colors attract more insects... Photo: Mark Seymour/Creative Commons.

Here's a twist in the ongoing not-so-big problem with wind turbines killing birds and bigger problem with them killing bats: New research published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research finds that the color which turbines are painted makes a big difference in the number of insects attracted to them, and in turn how many birds and bats get killed. You can read the full study (pay-per-read) or the good BBC overview, but this is the gist of the research:

When the researchers, from Loughborough University, examined an array of colors for wind turbines--which they did by placing different colored cards next to a wind turbine in the UK--they found that there were large differences between them.

They tested pure white, light grey, dark grey, sky blue, red, purple, yellow, and others.

Yellow attracted the most insects, but pure white and light grey--the predominant wind turbine color--drew in significantly more insects than other colors. Purple turned out to the be the least attractive color.

Furthermore, the researchers discovered (perhaps not surprisingly) that the ultraviolet and infrared components of the paint used on the wind turbines also varied their insect attraction, with high levels of either meaning more insects.

Before we go painting turbines purple, the researchers caution that there are other factors at play here as well. But it is certainly interesting.

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More on Wind Power & Bats:
Scientists Solve Wind Power's Mass Bat-Killing Problem
Surprise, Surprise: Shutting Down Wind Turbines at Night Reduces Bat Deaths
How Radar Could Protect Bats From Wind Turbines

Tags: Animals | Insects | Renewable Energy | Wind Power