Texas wind farm uses radar technology to prevent migratory bird deaths

By on May 4th, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009 4:58

20090502-wind-turbinesA Texas wind farm, situated on a flight path used by millions of birds each spring and autumn, has launched a system that uses radar technology to protect the migratory birds.

The wind farm inaugurated last month, uses radar technology developed initially for NASA and American Aviation, to detect approaching birds from as far as four miles away. The system can analyse weather conditions, and then determine in real time whether they are in danger of flying into the turbines.

If the birds are threatened, the system is programmed to shut down, starting after the danger passes. Forecasts suggest the wind farm would be forced to stop only between 40 to 60 hours during the period of migration.

The Texas wind farm, which has a capacity of 202 megawatts, is the first that uses such technology. However, the conservationists are sceptical that the park managers will stop the turbines when the weather conditions are very good.

“The bottom line with wind energy is that it has great potential but it must be done correctly,” said Doug Inkley, a senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. “The windiest site may not be the most suitable and one may have to live with having less windy conditions and less impact on wildlife.”

The conservationists argue that this technology does nothing to solve the problem of installations that disturb bird and animal habitats. Wind farms kill about 7,000 birds every year, according to a recent study.

        

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