TCU – Researching the Wind

– So today we’re at the
Wolf Ridge Wind facility up near Muenster, Texas. And this is part of a
large research project involving Texas Christian University, Florida Power and Light energy company, and then also Oxford University. There are three major arms
of this research initiative and I’m in charge of the
impacts on birds and bats. So we’re really looking at wildlife. And one of the first questions
we want to address is, can we come up with a statistically robust and yet efficient way
of estimating mortality on these wind facilities,
so mortality due to direct collisions with the wind turbines? And so today we’re laying
some of the ground work for that effort by starting our scavenger and searcher efficiency trials. And so we’ve purchased animals
from this commercial breeder and he euthanized them for us and then today we’re laying them out on the wind resource area and we’re working in two different teams and hopefully after
today’s data collection we’ll be able to estimate
at least a first-hand look at how efficient are
we at finding carcasses of different size. So for example Jeff my student, he might just have a better set of eyes and be more efficient at
detecting carcasses than I am. So we want to be able to
account for those differences. And then we also want
to be able to account for the scavenger rate. So how quickly are carcasses being removed from the wind resource area? If wind turbines are sited in a smart way, generally the bird mortality’s
probably gonna be pretty low. And we would expect that
to be the case here. Wind companies are
really taking initiative to avoid locations that
are really stop-over sites for migrating birds,
meaning that they’re gonna come down and use water in the area and stop over during their migration. And they’ve also learned
to stay away from edges of maces or canyons
where raptors are soaring and riding the thermals and
foraging in those areas. So the idea is, if we’re
gonna have this green energy, how green is it really
and what are the impacts on wildlife population?

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