Reducing bat fatalities at wind facilities while improving the economic efficiency of operational mitigation

Colleen M. Martin, Edward B. Arnett, Richard D. Stevens, Mark C. Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Concerns about cumulative population-level effects of bat fatalities at wind facilities have led to mitigation strategies to reduce turbine-related bat mortality. Operational mitigation that limits operation may reduce fatalities but also limits energy production. We incorporated both temperature and wind speed into an operational mitigation design fine-tuned to conditions when bats are most active in order to improve economic efficiency of mitigation. We conducted a 2-year study at the Sheffield Wind Facility in Sheffield, Vermont. Activity of bats is highest when winds speeds are low (< 6.0 m/s) and, in our region, when temperatures are above 9.5°C. We tested for a reduction in bat mortality when cut-in speed at treatment turbines was raised from 4.0 to 6.0 m/s whenever nightly wind speeds were < 6.0 m/s and temperatures were > 9.5°C. Mortalities at fully operational turbines were 1.52-4.45 times higher than at treatment turbines. During late spring and early fall, when overnight temperatures generally fell below 9.5°C, incorporating temperature into the operational mitigation design decreased energy losses by 18%. Energy lost from implementation of our design was < 3% for the study season and approximately 1% for the entire year. We recommend that operational mitigation be implemented during high-risk periods to minimize bat fatalities and reduce the probability of long-term population-level effects on bats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Volume98
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Bat fatalities
  • Bats
  • Cut-in speed
  • Mitigation
  • Operational mitigation
  • Temperature
  • Wind energy
  • Wind turbines

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