Bird Deaths Drop By 70% After Painting Wind Turbine Blades Black

By Anthony McLennan

According to research done on a Norwegian wind farm, there could be a very simple solution to drastically decrease bird deaths.

Wind power has surged in recent years – in 2019 a capacity of more than 60GW was added worldwide; an increase of 19 percent.

This is not surprising as wind is fast becoming one of the cheapest ways to produce power.

However, as is the case with nearly all energy sources, the environment suffers collateral damage.

In the case of wind power – produced by massive turbines – it’s birds which most greatly suffer.

The US Fish and Wildlife estimated that around 300,000 birds were killed by wind blades in 2015.

It’s been found that the birds simply don’t see the giant turbines, which are generally white in color.

It’s believed that this is is because, relative to humans, birds have a narrow binocular frontal field of view. It’s thought likely that they use their monocular and high‐resolution lateral fields of view for detecting predators. And that within an assumed open airspace, birds may not always perceive obstructions ahead.

Encouraging results

In order to try and make the turbines more visible for the birds, researcher at the Smøla wind farm in Norway decided to paint a single blade black in each of four turbines. The turbines are 70 meters tall with each of their three blades measuring 40 meters in length.

This was done in 2013. In the six years prior to the turbines being painted black, data was accumulated on dead birds, with the aid of sniffer dogs. Among the birds killed were white-tailed eagles.

And, according to the researcher’s findings, the results were very encouraging: “Applying contrast painting to the rotor blades significantly reduced the annual fatality rate (>70%) for a range of birds at the Smøla wind‐power plant,” they wrote in their report.

It should be noted, however, that by the researchers’ own admission, the study was a relatively limited one. More studies will be carried out. But, in the meantime, it has at least given hope to the possibility that by simply adding black paint to wind turbines, many birds could be saved.

Source: Truth Theory

Image Credit: tasfoto

I’m an experienced journalist who has written for some of South Africa’s biggest publications. Also a photographer, soccer coach, dog-lover and surfer, I enjoy spending time outdoors in beautiful Cape Town. I believe that a new approach is needed to sustain our planet and that it is important to put this message out. Read More stories by Anthony McLennan

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