Update on bats and wind power

SCIENTISTS SEEM TO HAVE SOLVED THE MYSTERY of why bats are killed by wind turbines, and they think they can use this knowledge to prevent bat deaths. This good news comes from the Journal of Wildlife Management via Science Daily: Bat deaths can be reduced by making sure that the blades of the turbines do not turn (at least not much) when wind speeds are low. Taking this precaution doesn’t significantly affect energy output from the turbines, either. The idea is already being successfully used in some locations.

There’s a lot more to the story, however, so if you’re interested I recommend checking the following sources:

Treehugger article: “Scientists Solve Wind Power’s Mass Bat-Killing Problem

Science Daily article, “Scientists Find Successful Way to Reduce Bat Deaths at Wind Turbines”

Press release from the University of Calgary, “U of C scientists find successful way to reduce bat deaths at wind turbines”

Press release from the University of Calgary, “Extreme pressure changes near blades injures bat lungs, U of C study finds”

Original journal article: Baerwald et al. “A Large-Scale Mitigation Experiment to Reduce Bat Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities.” Journal of Wildlife Management, 2009; 73 (7): 1077

My earlier post on windpower and wildlife can be found here. For the record, a (“up to”) 60% reduction in bat deaths isn’t enough to make me ultra happy about the popularity of wind power. But it is good news, and perhaps this discovery will lead to others that will reduce bat deaths even more.

Many thanks to Carole Browne of Conservation Gardening for mentioning this news on her blog.


Christine said...

I heard a scientist that was part of the study interviewed on Science Friday on Talk of the Nation. It seems other studies are trying to look into dissuading them by using sound, but haven't figured out a sound that will repel. So far their sounds only attract. Very interesting!

Carole said...

It's funny that something so simple can make such a huge difference to the bats. It's time for us to find many other simple actions that we can take to improve the outlook for wildlife who are suffering from all we have taken away from them.

Your site looks great. I'll be spending alot of time here reading through all the great information you have here. Thank you for sharing it!

Wild Flora said...

Hi Christine and Carole, and thanks for your comments. This is a particularly interesting topic, isn't it? It would be so wonderful if (for once?) something humans need and want -- e.g., renewable energy -- could be had without cost to some other species. Here's hoping!

Town Mouse said...

Good news indeed! I do hope they'll continue to make progress.