Wind turbines can pose a threat to birds and bats, and so it stands to reason that moves to increase wind energy will spell increased potential for conflict between environmental protection and wildlife conservation. The possible endangerment of protected bird species is becoming a serious obstacle to the approval of wind farms in a growing number of instances where their territories are located near the wind turbines. Measures designed to reduce the risk of collision are therefore climbing to the top of the agenda. These range from special landscaping around the turbines, the installation of deflectors in designated areas and fixed shutdown times right through to the development of innovative technical systems which detect birds in the immediate vicinity of wind turbines. These open the door for other safety features, such as automatic mechanisms to stop or slow down the turbines in order to protect individual birds and bats.
To this end, the ZSW scientists are developing a BirdRecorder which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect approaching birds and identify the species sufficiently early to be able to calculate the expected flight path and shut the relevant wind turbines down in time. The AI experts at the ZSW have taken more than 10 million images of objects in the sky at the wind energy test site so far and have evaluated them with the help of machine learning methods.
The aim of the project is to reconcile the need for wildlife conservation and environmental protection with the use of wind energy. The research project is part of “Implementing nature conservation research at the land-based wind test site (NatForWINSENT II)” and is funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit - BMU) and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz - BfN).