One black blade on a wind turbine protects eagles and birds in general

Birds are prone to a phenomenon known as “motion smear”. It makes the rotating blades of wind turbines invisible them. Therefore, the rotating blades occasionally kill birds such as snipe and golden plovers and also birds of prey such as white-tailed eagles and kestrels.

Black paint on wind turbine blade saves the lives of birds
Black paint on wind turbine blade saves the lives of birds. Photo (annotated by me) May et al 2020 (the study researchers).

Six white-tailed eagles, which have an eight foot wingspan, have been killed over 7.5 years by four turbines on a wind farm at Smøla, an island off the coast of Norway, where a study took place with the purpose of looking for solutions to the hazard that wind turbines pose to birds. Since they painted three quarters of one blade of each turbine black, three and a half years ago, none have been killed.

In all, the researchers found that bird deaths fell by 72 percent after a blade on each of the four turbines was painted black compared with four turbines that remained white.

An organisation with a vested interest in windfarms, Renewable UK, commented that the research was interesting but small-scale and its significance was unclear.

Comment: well, they would say that wouldn’t they? They want to dismiss the research even though it is clear that there are advantages to painting turbine blades black to make them more visible to birds. It appears to me that they do not want the added expense of doing it, which I understand, but this is short-term and bad thinking. It would be a great public relations exercise for the wind farm businesses to deal with the death of birds and make windfarms more acceptable generally. There are people who are against them because they spoil the environment but then again they are necessary if we are to create a greener and more environmentally friendly society.

In the United States, the website report that 573,000 birds are killed every year by wind turbines. This is not an insubstantial problem. It needs dealing with and here we have a solution that should be embraced by the businesses running these farms.

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Post Category: Conservation