Science Daily, in it’s article – Scientists Find Successful Way To Reduce Bat Deaths At Wind Turbines, reports that “Scientists at the University of Calgary have found a way to reduce bat deaths from wind turbines by up to 60 percent without significantly reducing the energy generated from the wind farm. The research, recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, demonstrates that slowing turbine blades to near motionless in low-wind periods significantly reduces bat mortality.”
Science Daily noted that a “groundbreaking Barclay-Baerwald study shed new light about the reasons for bat deaths under wind turbines in the Pincher Creek area. Researchers found that the majority of migratory bats in this southern Alberta location were killed because a sudden drop in air pressure near the blades caused injuries to the bats’ lungs known as barotrauma. Although the respiratory systems in birds can withstand such drops, the physiology of bats’ lungs does not allow for the sudden change of pressure.” Following on the heels of this discovery, efforts were undertaken to find ways to eliminate or reduce the number of kills at installations. “TransAlta, Canada’s largest publicly traded provider of renewable energy, initiated a follow-up study at the same site to determine what could be done.”
Science Daily offers that “Until recently, wildlife concerns regarding wind energy focused primarily on bird fatalities. But bat fatalities now outnumber those of birds due, in part, to efforts to mitigate bird deaths by wind turbines.”
“Most bats killed at wind energy facilities across North America are migratory tree bats, including hoary and silver-haired bats. The deaths occur during autumn migration from Canada and the Northern U.S. to the southern U.S. or Mexico.”
“Given that more bat fatalities occur in low wind speeds and the relative ease of manipulating operation of turbines, we examined whether reducing the amount that turbine rotors turn in low wind speeds would reduce bat fatalities,” says (Erin) Baerwald.”
“Over the one-month experiment total revenue lost from the 15 turbines was estimated between $3,000 and $4,000.”
“TransAlta has already applied the low wind mitigation strategy to the 38 turbines identified in the study area. “The findings from the study area are promising and this new mode of operation is now in place and will be applied to new wind farms,” says (Jason) Edworthy.”
“Although these are promising mitigation techniques, further experiments are needed to assess costs and benefits at other locations,” says (U of C biology professor Robert) Barclay.”
So, how does this positive development suggest there should be delays in installations? Perhaps because Wind Energy Companies seeking to install massive turbines is areas with no forecasted need for the output have a responsibility to the citizens of the region, and the environment they claim to exist to improve, to take advantage of these technological improvements. It does not seem reasonable that Companies portraying themselves as “green” and environmentally friendly would continue to rush installation and sacrifice potential remedies for their most damaging side effects. Unless the true reason for the installation is profit, what is there to lose in being good stewards of the land?
So the question arises…will the American Wind Energy Association voluntarily request suspension of such installations in low, or no need areas for the benefit of such possible improvements? We shall see who is serious about the environment.