Assessing wildlife mortality resulting from collision with wind turbines is a recurring concern for conservationists and governmental agencies around the world. Monitoring wildlife fatality is often based on carcass searches below the turbines. However, the efficiency of this technique is known to have many biases, or even be unfeasible in some areas (e.g. offshore wind farms and heavily vegetated environments). To solve this problem, we have developed a system that uses specifically-designed microphones placed within turbine blades to record individual collisions of birds or bats with the blades. The accompanying data loggers contain software that uses acoustical signatures to filter noises produced by the shock on the blade by birds and bats (down to 2.5 grams), from those produced by other objects (rain drops, insects, mechanical noises, etc.). Every time a collision occurs, the system automatically sends the information (sensor ID and turbine, time, etc.) to a remotely located server. Collision can be signalled instantaneously on a cell phone so a ground search can be done soon after the collision under the turbine where the event occurred. After field validation, the system will ultimately allow for quantification of mortality in areas that were previously inaccessible (e.g. offshore wind farms) and the standardization of mortality data collection across wide geographic areas. The remote monitoring capabilities of the system will also allow for low-cost, accurate, long-term mortality monitoring.
Report was presented at the Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts on the 2nd-5th of May 2011, in Trondheim, Norway.