Duke Energy implements protocols to protect bats from wind power turbines

29 October 2015 (Last Updated October 29th, 2015 18:30)

US-based Duke Energy Renewables is working on a project that can prevent killing or injuring bats when they accidentally come into contact with wind turbines.

US-based Duke Energy Renewables is working on a project that can prevent killing or injuring bats when they accidentally come into contact with wind turbines.

The reasons why bats are attracted to the wind turbines are still unknown. Scientists believe that due to having poor vision, the bats are likely to mistake the turbines as large trees.

The project was initiated by American Wind Energy Association, which had formed a committee for the purpose.

Led by Duke Energy Renewables environmental director and biologist Tim Hayes, the project team has suggested slowing down the wind turbine rotor speeds during low-wind conditions around August and September, since this is the time of year when bats migrate and breed.

"Scientists believe that due to having poor vision, the bats are likely to mistake the turbines as large trees."

The firm has implemented the new procedures at 11 of its wind power generating plants, and intends to adopt the practices at five more of its facilities.

Duke Energy will also be implementing the new operating parameters for the turbines in their future projects.

Tim Hayes said: "We’re on the leading-edge of addressing this. Whatever the environmental issue, Duke prides itself in meeting it head-on.

"Wind energy is clean, with no emissions, and it doesn’t use any water.

"However, there is no free lunch, and every form of generation has an impact on the environment. We must figure out how to improve the impact we do have."

The new protocols are based on ten years of research by the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative and others, and are expected to reduce the wind power sector’s impact on bats by as much as 30%, according to American Wind Energy Association.