Radar to protect birds from wind turbines
One of the environmental concerns surrounding the recent boom in wind farm development is the potential threat of large-scale bird mortality. There’s nuance to the degree of potential threat related to factors like scale and siting (i.e., more threat when turbines are sited near migratory pathways, nesting areas and mountain passes, for example), but the risk remains. A new radar technology in use at the Peñascal wind farm in Sarita, Texas aims to reduce that risk by shutting down turbines when birds are detected approaching.
The technology, developed by DeTect, Inc. and implemented by the Spanish firm Iberdrola Renewables, could be especially useful during inclement weather, when birds have a tendency to fly at lower altitudes. The system spots birds as far as four miles away and gauges their numbers and altitude. After assessing the weather, the system calculates probability of impact and determines whether to shut down the turbines. Turbines restart once the birds are safely on their way.
There has been talk about the possibility of using part of the Freshkills Park site as a wind farm. Threat to birds is one of several potential impacts that would require analysis before any large-scale plans could advance, but in the meantime, we’re taking steps to integrate more modest renewable energy sources into each built project. In addition to a green roof and geothermal heating and cooling, a small wind turbine will be installed to generate power for the Owl Hollow Fields Comfort Station, in a relatively low-lying area at the edge of the Freshkills Park site.
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