The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) is an initiative sponsored by Bat Conservation International (BCI), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).The objectives of BWEC are to build a scientific understanding about why bats collide with wind turbines and to develop mitigation strategies that reduce potential risks to bat populations. Following the first scientific workshop in February 2004, BWEC shaped a research agenda and conducted field research on pre-construction studies, post-construction fatality monitoring, and deterrent technologies. The management structure of BWEC consists of a Program Director, an Oversight Committee (the founders mentioned above), a five-member Scientific Advisory Committee and a Technical Committee that includes state and federal agencies, private industry, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations. BWEC meetings and workshop are facilitated by Energetics Incorporated (A full list of individuals is provided in Appendix A).
On January 8th, 9th, and 10th, some of the world’s leading bat scientists from the U.S. and Europe, wind industry and federal and state resource agency representatives came together in Austin, Texas, for a workshop to share information about what we know today and what we need to know in the future about bat mortality at wind turbines. The workshop, sponsored by the four founders of the Cooperative, had almost 50 participants in attendance (see Appendix A). Participants are hopeful that this collaboration will yield solutions that support the continued growth of wind energy production in concert with bats & their habitats.
The purpose of the workshop was to:
- Determine the current state of knowledge by identifying potential risks, gaps in knowledge and future directions for bat and wind energy research conducted by BWEC and other research groups in North America and Europe.
- Maximize dialogue between subject matter experts.
- Develop preliminary research plans focusing on knowledge gaps that are essential to solving the greatest risks.
The workshop was not intended to make decisions about specific project proposals or who implements and finances the potential solutions. The expected outcomes of the meeting were:
- A brief report about the state of knowledge and relevant technology based on research by BWEC and others to address the problems identified at the 2004 Workshop.
- An action plan and a list of potential technical solutions best suited to address the defined problem and near term priorities for a BWEC research agenda.
This document is a summary of the workshop proceedings, including the comments and ideas captured during the facilitated sessions and a list of next steps, grouped by priority research tasks.
The workshop began with a participant from the wind energy industry providing a brief overview of wind energy project development and how research results may be incorporated into operational requirements. The rest of the workshop relied on panel presentations on technical topics followed by facilitated discussions on potential significant risks, knowledge gaps, and the near-term action items needed to address these gaps. Facilitation questions, outlined in the agenda (see Appendix B), were used to encourage dialogue on the four topics discussed:
- Post-Construction Monitoring and Risk Assessment
- Pre-Construction Risk Assessment Methods
- Operational Mitigation Studies and Deterrent Research
- Evaluation of Population Parameters and Modeling
For each topic, a panel of experts gave presentations on their research methods and results to date. Following each set of presentations on a topic area, the facilitator posed focus questions and led the group in a discussion to explore the most up-to-date information available. All participants, including industry and agency observers, provided ideas and responses which were collected in real-time on an electronic storyboard. A summary of these discussions are summarized as “Results of the Facilitated Discussion” with a list of issues raised. These lists are provided for background in formation only and are not intended as a comprehensive list of priority actions for each research topic. The lists are intended to give an overview of a number of the major risks and challenges facing BWEC and their research partners. The questions used to facilitate discussions on the four topics listed above were as follows:
- What are the most significant risks and knowledge gaps?
- What can be done to address the most significant risks and knowledge gaps? What tools, technologies, and protocols are needed to address the solution?
On the morning of the third day, the participants were divided into four breakout groups, one for each topic area, based on their relevant expertise. Each breakout group was tasked with prioritizing next steps for their appropriate topic area using a research plan template. After the groups finished developing their research priortties, one representative from each topic area breakout group presented the group’s findings to all attendees. The research plan templates focused on the following questions:
- What are the immediate next steps associated with implementing the top priority actions/solutions?
- What are the defined tasks, schedules, and involved parties?
The priority research tasks developed at the concluding breakout session as well as the list of risks and knowledge gaps developed at the plenary sessions were submitted for critical review and revised by the BWEC Science Advisory Committee following the workshop. The “priority research tasks” for the four topics are prioritized within each topic area, and offer specific recommendations for BWEC’s consideration in their research planning and management activities. The tentative BWEC Work Plan can be found in Appendix C. The Over sight Committee and the Project Coordinator will consider these recommendations for the 2008-2009 research seasons and continue to collaborate with other partners.