July 25, 2024
Wind Turbine Control

Active Wind Turbine Control Aims to Reduce Bird Deaths by 80%

With the increasing use of wind turbines as a source of clean energy, one of the major concerns has been the impact on bird populations. It is estimated that wind turbines cause millions of bird deaths each year. However, researchers at SINTEF and the Norwegian Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research may have come up with a solution that could significantly reduce bird fatalities.

The concept is relatively simple – each wind turbine will be equipped with cameras capable of detecting birds flying directly into the path of the spinning blades. Using software, the system will predict the trajectory of the birds and if they are at risk of colliding with the blades, control signals will be sent to slow down the rotation of the blades. This will be achieved by adjusting the generator moment and blade twist.

Simulations of the system, known as SKARV, have shown promising results. The technology is able to prevent the majority of collisions with individual birds flying in a predictable path towards the turbine. However, the system is not foolproof. It cannot prevent collisions with the central nacelle or the tower, and it is ineffective against birds approaching from the sides or circling around the turbine.

Despite these limitations, the researchers believe that the SKARV project has the potential to reduce bird deaths by up to 80%. The next step is to further develop strategies for controlling blade rotation speeds and integrate them with methods for identifying bird flight trajectories. The team hopes to conduct a practical demonstration in the near future and expects the SKARV technology to be commercially available within the next five years.

While some argue that birds are learning to avoid wind turbines on their own, the issue of bird fatalities remains a significant concern. Each year, more than a million birds in the United States alone are killed by wind turbines, a number that cannot be ignored. The development of the SKARV system could provide a much-needed solution and ensure that the growth of clean energy does not come at the expense of bird populations.

It is worth noting that if the SKARV system proves to be successful, it could also have implications for the clean energy industry. If bird-related interruptions to wind turbine operations can be minimized, it would be a win-win situation for both environmentalists and industry players. Additionally, the system could potentially be adapted for use in other regions where bird collisions with wind turbines are a major concern.

As research and trials continue, it will be interesting to see the progress of the SKARV system and its potential impact on reducing bird deaths caused by wind turbines. With sufficient interest from the industry, this technology could become a standard feature of wind turbines in the near future, ensuring a more sustainable and bird-friendly approach to clean energy generation.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it