Environmental impacts of wind energy facilities increasingly cause concern, a central issue being bats and birds killed by rotor blades. Two approaches have been employed to assess collision rates: carcass searches and surveys of animals prone to collisions. Carcass searches can provide an estimate for the actual number of animals being killed but they offer little information on the relation between collision rates and, for example, weather parameters due to the time of death not being precisely known. In contrast, a density index of animals exposed to collision is sufficient to analyse the parameters influencing the collision rate. However, quantification of the collision rate from animal density indices (e.g. acoustic bat activity or bird migration traffic rates) remains difficult. We combine carcass search data with animal density indices in a mixture model to investigate collision rates. In a simulation study we show that the collision rates estimated by our model were at least as precise as conventional estimates based solely on carcass search data. Furthermore, if certain conditions are met, the model can be used to predict the collision rate from density indices alone, without data from carcass searches. This can reduce the time and effort required to estimate collision rates. We applied the model to bat carcass search data obtained at 30 wind turbines in 15 wind facilities in Germany. We used acoustic bat activity and wind speed as predictors for the collision rate. The model estimates correlated well with conventional estimators. Our model can be used to predict the average collision rate. It enables an analysis of the effect of parameters such as rotor diameter or turbine type on the collision rate. The model can also be used in turbine-specific curtailment algorithms that predict the collision rate and reduce this rate with a minimal loss of energy production.
Estimating Bat and Bird Mortality Occurring at Wind Energy Turbines from Covariates and Carcass Searches Using Mixture Models
Title: Estimating Bat and Bird Mortality Occurring at Wind Energy Turbines from Covariates and Carcass Searches Using Mixture Models
July 03, 2013
Journal: Plos One
Publisher: Plos One
Korner-Nievergelt, F.; Brinkmann, R.; Niermann, I.; Behr, O. (2013). Estimating Bat and Bird Mortality Occurring at Wind Energy Turbines from Covariates and Carcass Searches Using Mixture Models. Plos One, 8(7), 1-11.