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article imageTexas wind farm uses technology to prevent migratory bird deaths

By Chris V. Thangham     May 4, 2009 in Technology
Wind farms kills thousands of birds every year in the US, and a Texas firm wants to avoid killing the birds during their migration with special radar technology.
Wind farms are sprouting up in Texas, but wildlife authorities worry that it will kill many birds since they are in the direct migratory route.
Peñascal 202MW wind farm in Texas, operated by the Spanish firm Iberdrola Renewables, will employ radar technology to avoid hitting migratory birds.
The technology was originally developed for NASA and American Aviation. They used it to detect birds as far as four miles and were able to change their flight path to avoid hitting them.
The modified system will analyze weather conditions and calculate in real time whether the birds will fly into turbines. If they are in direct path, the wind turbines will be shut down and let the birds pass through.
According to a forecast, this wind farm stoppage won’t affect the overall power generation; it will affect only between 40 and 60 hours during the period of migration.
Gary Andrews, the chairman of DeTect, Inc, the Florida company that developed the technology told the Guardian that when the system spots the bird in the radar, it assesses their altitude, their numbers and the visibility range. Based on these three parameters they will shut the wind farm done if the birds are threatened by the turbines.
Andrew Kasner, director of bird conservation for Audubon Texas, however has reservations about this new technology.
Kasner told Guardian:
The wind energy industry makes bold claims, and they need to prove them...It's possible for them to do [switch off the turbines], but I don't know whether they would do it during peak wind time.
Other conservationists think this system doesn’t help protect birds and animals’ habitats that are disturbed by the wind farm installations.
Millions of birds fly through a narrow air corridor in Texas during their semi-annual migration. They found 4,000 birds an hour pass through during a migration period, according to a study done in 2007.
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