The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC or Cooperative) is an alliance of experts from government agencies, private industry, academic institutions, and non-government al organizations that cooperate to develop and disseminate solutions to reduce to the greatest extent practicable or, where possible, prevent mortality of bats at wind energy facilities. The BWEC is overseen by Bat Conservation International (BCI), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. Department of Energy (US DOE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). BWEC’s Oversight, Science Advisory, and Technical Advisory Committees met in Louisville, Colorado at the National Wind Technology Center from January 6 – 8, 2015 for the 4th Science and All Committees Meeting to examine progress of the BWEC, review existing monitoring and minimization strategies, discuss emerging issues, assess the effectiveness of BWEC, and establish priorities for the Cooperative for the years 2015 to 2018
Research Priorities and Emerging Issues
The BWEC committee members discussed and identified potential priorities for 2015 – 2018 in the following categories. Further detail on a wider range of possible activities is included later in this report. Discussions were informed by BWEC progress to date, BWEC participant research initiatives, and guest presentations. The priorities the BWEC developed during the meeting were designed to inform Oversight Committee decision-making and did not represent final decisions on specific activities.
Operational strategies to reduce impact – The BWEC should prepare a summary report on impact reduction strategies to describe the current state of the science, the challenges and opportunities of existing impact reduction strategies, and areas of future research. The BWEC also agreed to advance understanding in two high priority areas: 1) options to refine operational minimization such as feathering bel ow manufacturer’s cut-in speed or considering start/stop times when implementing operational minimization, impacts of changing wind technologies (turbines with lower cut-in speeds) and the effect of ramp-up speeds on fatality, and 2) the costs of implementing impact reduction strategies i n wind energy projects.
Ultrasonic acoustic deterrents – Given the advancement of deterrent technology and the promising findings of acoustic deterrents to date, the BWEC should advance the development of deterrents and research their effectiveness. In particular, the BWEC should design and implement a study to compare the effectiveness and costs of acoustic deterrents and operational reduction strategies, using a 2-factorial randomized block design.
Pre- and post-construction monitoring and data collection – The BWEC should support the compilation of site and project level data into a large database that is considered a trusted and credible data source for research purposes by industry, government agencies, academic institutions, and conservation organizations. It was also agreed the BWEC should examine landscape patterns of activity and fatality and site covariates to identify potential predictors of risk.
Fatality estimation and modeling – A general fatality estimator should be developed to help standardize fatality estimation and mode ling. The BWEC recommended that weather patterns and peak fatality events should be analyzed to determine whether or not a relationship exists that could help predict when peak fatality events might occur and thus enable turbine operators to implement and refine impact reduction strategies to minimize fatalities.
Bat behavior at various scales – Thermal video technology and analysis tools should continue to be used and advanced to study bat behavior and draw conclusions about when and how bats interact with turbines and how deterrent devices could be positioned to reduce impacts. The BWEC should monitor advances in strike-detection technology that may help pinpoint the times of impact and the environmental and operational conditions under which strikes occur.
Population estimation, modeling, and data collection – Population estimation, modeling, and data collection is a high priority. This work is mostly being undertaken by scientists in academic institutions with the support of state and federal resource management agencies. BWEC should continue to support these efforts through the provision of tissue and hair samples as needed and through help coordinating research efforts conducted by population geneticists.
International network and emerging issues – The BWEC should expand its network of international partners and seek opportunities to exchange knowledge in order to better understand bat and wind turbine interactions, and re duce fatality in North America and throughout the world.