A new study revealed that seabirds aren’t colliding with offshore wind turbines, and it’s left scientists wondering why.
Wind turbine farms are a great source of renewable energy, but they don’t come without risks. Namely, scientists and conservationists have been worried about the impact turbines have on birds and bird populations.
In a 2013 study, researchers found that the expansion of wind turbines in Canada over the next 15 years could lead to deaths of approximately 233,000 birds and the displacement of 57,000 pairs annually. Additional research found wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year in the United States alone.
Offshore wind turbines have been shown to have benefits not seen by onshore turbines, such as acting as a form of sanctuary for marine life.
Now, more research is suggesting offshore wind turbines could be great for the future of energy. A new 115-page study spent the past two years looking at the interactions of various seabird species at an offshore wind farm.
The farm, situated near Aberdeen, Scotland, boasts 11 turbines that should be a threat to native seabirds. However, scientists used radar surveys and mounted video cameras to gather data and not a single case of birdstrike was recorded.
The study covered herring gulls, gannets, kittiwakes, and great black-backed gulls and found that most birds maintained a 50 to 230-yard distance between themsevles and the turbines.
According to Electrek, study author Henrik Skov explained: “This is the first time that any kind of bird species has been studied this closely and in detail at an offshore wind farm. And these birds are really good at avoiding the turbines. Now we need studies on more varieties.”
The study comes as a huge breakthrough in scientists’ understanding of wind turbines and the best placement. Of course, further research will need to be conducted, but this milestone study can help shape the future of alternative energy by leading the way to show that offshore turbines may be a solution to avoid bird collisions and subsequent deaths.