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Norway painted black wind turbine blades because birds were racing to plug their heads in and commit suicide

Something as simple as black paint the rotor blades could be key to reducing the number of birds killed each year by wind turbines. According to a study conducted at a wind farm in the Smola Plateau, Norway, after changing the color of a single propeller on a turbine from white to black, the number of birds hitting the propeller dropped to 70. %.

Wind power is being used more and more, and in 2019, more than 60GW of electricity will be generated globally. As long as you put the turbines in the right positions, wind power is a much cheaper option than fossil fuel. And people prefer to live next to a wind farm more than any other type of power plant – even solar.

However, not everyone is a fan of wind turbines, because of the effects it has on populations of flying animals such as birds and bats. Politicians in the US do not like renewable energy when they say we should continue to mine coal and mine oil because of the alarming mortality of birds, and US President Donald Trump called wind power turbines are “bird graves“. According to estimates from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 300,000 birds were killed by wind turbines in 2015 (two times lower than the number of deaths from line-line collisions each). year), and the number of birds killed by wind turbines is also on a downward trend as people are turning to larger, slower rotating blades today.

In fact, the number of birds killed by wind turbines is probably overstated, but they are still happening. Previous studies have suggested that birds may not see obstacles clearly while in flight, and creating visual cues such as painting the blades can help increase the bird’s chances. poor spotting a huge, blind, spinning giant.

Black painted propellers at a wind farm in Smola, Norway

At the Smola wind farm, when examining four wind turbines – each 70m high with three 40m long blades – six white-tailed eagles were discovered between 2006 and 2013. Total These four turbines killed 18 birds that flew in during those six years, along with 5 grouse “departed” from collisions with the turbine column, not the propeller. (Four other turbines on the farm caused the death of seven birds, except for grouse, during that same period).

And so, in 2013, a propeller belonging to one of the other four turbines was painted black. In the next 3 years, only 6 birds “died” because of collisions with propellers. Meanwhile, the other four turbines used for comparison (mentioned above, not painted with black blades) had 18 bird deaths – black painted blades helped reduce the death rate by 71.9%. annual death of birds.

When digging deeper into the data collected, it was found that the death rate depends on the seasonal factors. During spring and fall, lower bird deaths were recorded in black painted turbines. But during the summer, the number of dead birds in these turbines increases; and the researchers say that while in this study, the number of turbines is relatively small and the duration of the study is relatively short, the results are comparable to the longer-term studies, both at Smola and elsewhere. .

Reference: ArsTechnica

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