A Large-Scale Mitigation Experiment to Reduce Bat Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities




ABSTRACT  Until large numbers of bat fatalities began to be reported at certain North American wind energy facilities, wildlife concerns regarding wind energy focused primarily on bird fatalities. Due in part to mitigation to reduce bird fatalities, bat fatalities now outnumber those of birds. To test one mitigation option aimed at reducing bat fatalities at wind energy facilities, we altered the operational parameters of 21 turbines at a site with high bat fatalities in southwestern Alberta, Canada, during the peak fatality period. By altering when turbine rotors begin turning in low winds, either by changing the wind-speed trigger at which the turbine rotors are allowed to begin turning or by altering blade angles to reduce rotor speed, blades were near motionless in low wind speeds, which resulted in a significant reduction in bat fatalities (by 60.0% or 57.5%, respectively). Although these are promising mitigation techniques, further experiments are needed to assess costs and benefits at other locations.