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New research quantifies risk to bats at commercial wind facilities

December 15, 2021

By Trevor Peterson and Adam Rusk

New research published in The Wildlife Society Bulletin shows that data from bat acoustics, weather and strategic wind-turbine operations can help prevent bat fatalities at wind farms

Two Stantec bat experts, Trevor Peterson and Adam Rusk, have co-authored a new paper that details how data from bat acoustics, weather and strategic wind-turbine operations can help minimize bat fatalities at wind farms.  The research article, “Acoustic Exposure to Turbine Operation Quantifies Risk to Bats at Commercial Wind Facilities,” was published Dec. 13, 2021, in The Wildlife Society Bulletin. The paper describes how measuring acoustic bat activity provides a quantitative basis for designing, evaluating, and adaptively managing wind-turbine curtailment strategies. The research supports design principles used in the development of Stantec’s EchoPITCH, a valuable tool that identifies key times for wind-turbine curtailment that reduce bat fatalities while allowing for increased generation of renewable energy.

Bat fatalities at commercial wind energy facilities can threaten populations of some long-distance migratory bat species. As the wind energy industry grows, industry stakeholders and regulatory agencies are looking for strategies to reduce risks to bat populations. Bats collide with turbines only when turbine rotors are spinning and curtailing turbine operation at low wind speeds can effectively reduce bat fatalities. However, few quantitative data exist to determine threshold wind speeds below which turbine operations should be curtailed. During seven years of research at two West Virginia commercial wind farms, Peterson, Rusk, and other scientists determined that acoustic bat data recorded at turbine nacelles (the housing for the turbine generator) can provide a more precise and sensitive measure of bat fatality risk than monitoring bat carcasses at ground level. Those data, along with weather patterns, can be used to design curtailment strategies that are tailor-made for specific commercial wind facilities.

Read the full journal article in the The Wildlife Society Bulletin, which is published by The Wildlife Society. 

  • Trevor Peterson

    With a background in biology and environmental studies, Trevor has focused his career on renewable energy projects, bat migration, and rare species assessments.

    Contact Trevor
  • Adam Rusk

    As a wildlife biologist, Adam develops innovative ways to conduct wildlife surveys and meaningful ways to analyze data. He’s implemented digital collection methods, streamlined analysis using software, and utilized technology to improve our services.

    Contact Adam
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