Wind turbines represent a source of hazard for bats, especially through collision with rotor blades. With increasing technical development, tall turbines (rotor-swept zone 50–150 m above ground level) are becoming widespread, yet we lack quantitative information about species active at these heights, which impedes proposing targeted mitigation recommendations for bat-friendly turbine operation. We investigated vertical activity profiles of a bat assemblage, and their relationships to wind speed, within a major valley of the European Alps where tall wind turbines are being deployed. To monitor bat activity we installed automatic recorders at sequentially increasing heights from ground level up to 65 m, with the goal to determine species-specific vertical activity profiles and to link them to wind speed. Bat call sequences were analysed with an automatic algorithm, paying particular attention to mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis and Myotis blythii) and the European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis), three locally rare species. The most often recorded bats were the Com-mon pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and Savi’s pipistrelle (Hypsugo savii). Mouse-eared bats were rarely recorded, and mostly just above ground, appearing out of risk of collision.T. teniotis had a more evenly distributed vertical activity profile, often being active at rotor level, but its activity at that height ceased above 5 ms-1 wind speed. Overall bat activity in the rotor-swept zone declined with increasing wind speed, dropping below 5% above 5.4 ms-1. Collision risk could be drastically reduced if nocturnal operation of tall wind turbines would be restricted to wind speeds above 5 ms-1. Such measure should be implemented year-round because T. teniotis remains active in winter. This operational restriction is likely to cause only small energy production losses at these tall wind turbines, although further analyses are needed to assess these losses precisely.
Mitigating the negative impacts of tall wind turbines on bats: Vertical activity profiles and relationships to wind speed
Title: Mitigating the negative impacts of tall wind turbines on bats: Vertical activity profiles and relationships to wind speed
March 21, 2018
Journal: PLoS ONE
Wellig, S.; Nussle, S.; Miltner, D.; Kohle, O.; Glaizot, O.; Braunisch, V.; Obrist, M.; Arlettaz, R. (2018). Mitigating the negative impacts of tall wind turbines on bats: Vertical activity profiles and relationships to wind speed. PLoS ONE, 13(3), 16.