Wageningen Marine Research examines the behavior of bats at offshore wind turbines

Published on
September 14, 2016

Various land-based studies show that wind turbines can cause fatalities amongst bats, in particular during migration. Wageningen Marine Research is conducting a study on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment to access the fatality risk of bats at offshore wind turbines, as various species of bats also migrate over sea.

Photo right on top: Common noctule (Nyctalus noctula) (©Gerjon Gelling)

The researchers developed a measuring setup consisting of 12 ultrasonic microphones which are able to detect echolocation calls of bats at different heights and in  four wind directions around the turbine mast. This enables them to investigate the behaviour of bats and determine when they are at risk in the rotor swept area. Such an extensive bat detector configuration has never been applied before at a wind turbine.

Furthermore, thermal imaging cameras are used which can determine bat flight paths and register potential collisions with the blades. The equipment has been successfully installed at a wind turbine of the Energy Research Centre Netherlands (ECN). As soon as the tests on land have been finished, the equipment will be installed at an offshore wind turbine.

The first results show that the equipment is performing well, as can be seen in this video.

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Computer vision specialists from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research contribute to this project and  technical support is provided by the Energy Research Centre Netherlands (ECN).