August 8, 2022

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This is how researchers should prevent birds from colliding with wind turbines

This is how researchers should prevent birds from colliding with wind turbines

The collision of birds with wind turbines is a well-known phenomenon. Several procedures, such as painting one of the turbine blades, have been tried without solving the problem.

Research at the Norwegian Institute of Natural Research shows that birds that use so-called floating flight such as raptors or seabirds are killed in collisions with wind turbines.

SEA EAGLE: This sea eagle was found next to a wind farm in Smøla in Møre og Romsdal. Photo: Roel May, Norwegian Institute of Natural History.

Now researchers at SINTEF in Trondheim hope they have the solution.

The system is called SKARV (avoids collisions during active regulation of wind turbines), says senior researcher John Olav Tande at SINTEF.

He says cameras mounted on wind turbines will detect the approaching bird and calculate the bird’s additional path.

MUST TEST: Senior researcher John Olav Tande at SINTEF says the next step now is to test the anti-collision system in practice.  Photo: Frank Lervik/TV2

MUST TEST: Senior researcher John Olav Tande at SINTEF says the next step now is to test the anti-collision system in practice. Photo: Frank Lervik/TV2

– After that, the speed of the turbine blades is regulated so that the bird does not collide, but rather flies through it.

Anti-collision system

The researchers believe that the new anti-collision system will mean that fewer birds die in the face of wind turbines. There will be many things in the future. The government recently announced an investment in offshore wind energy, which includes about 1,500 floating wind turbines by 2040.

SMØLA: Very little research has been done on how often birds die in the face of wind turbines.  This is one of the 127 Dead Sea Vultures that have been found on the wind farm.  Photo: Ruel May, Nina

SMØLA: Very little research has been done on how often birds die in the face of wind turbines. This is one of the 127 Dead Sea Vultures that have been found on the wind farm. Photo: Ruel May, Nina

Little research has been done on the extent to which birds die in the face of wind turbines in Norway. What is known is based mostly on research conducted by NINA in Smøla since 2005. There are 68 wind turbines.

– We recorded dead birds of 40 different species. Grouse and sea eagles collide most often. In Smøla, 127 sea eagles have been found so far, says NINA’s chief researcher, Roel May.

Senior researcher Roel May at the Norwegian Institute of Natural Research has mapped a bird dying in a collision with wind turbines in Smola.  Photo: Nina

Senior researcher Roel May at the Norwegian Institute of Natural Research has mapped a bird dying in a collision with wind turbines in Smola. Photo: Nina

Little is known about the birds that strike wind turbines at sea.

– Because the birds disappear into the sea after the collision and cannot be recorded. With the planned large-scale development of offshore winds in Norway, there is a great need for more knowledge about impacts at sea and effective measures to mitigate them, says the researcher.

Obtained a patent

Similar systems already exist with camera systems and sensors in rotating blades to prevent bird deaths. At SINTEF in Trondheim, they believe their system will win, although it has not yet been practically tested.

– Anti-collision system will work. We are so sure. We’ve run simulations and obtained a patent, says SINTEF’s senior researcher, John Olaf Tandy.

It is also believed that the system would work better on large birds such as eagles, because their movement through the air is more predictable with large circles than other flying creatures.

– For example, bats are almost impossible to count because of their fluttering flight, says the researcher.

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