Identifying Birds’ Collision Risk With Wind Turbines

Identifying Birds’ Collision Risk with Wind Turbines Using a Multidimensional Utilization Distribution Method- Sam Khosravifard, Andrew K. Skidmore, Babak Naimi, Valentijn Venus, Antonio R. Muñoz, Albertus G. Toxopeus

Source: Full document Published 27th January 2020


Renewable energy plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the expansion of wind farms has raised concerns about risks for bird collisions. We tested different methods used to understand whether birds’ flight occurs over wind turbines and found kernel density estimators outperform other methods. Previous studies using kernel utilization distribution (KUD) have considered only the 2 horizontal dimensions (2D). However, if altitude is ignored, an unrealistic depiction of the situation may result because birds move in 3 dimensions (3D). We quantified the 3D space use of the Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) in El Estrecho natural park in Tarifa (southern Spain, on the northern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar) during 2012–2013, and, for the first time, their risk of collision with wind turbines in an area in the south of Spain. The 2D KUD showed a substantial overlap of the birds’ flight paths with the wind turbines in the study area, whereas the 3D kernel estimate did not show such overlap. Our aim was to develop a new approach using 3D kernel estimation to understand the space use of soaring birds; these are killed by collision with wind turbines more often than any other bird types in southern Spain. We determined the probability of bird collision with an obstacle within its range. Other potential application areas include airfields, plane flight paths, and tall buildings. © 2020 The Authors. Wildlife Society Bulletin published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Wildlife Society.

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