The wind energy industry is committed to respecting and protecting wildlife, their habitat and the environment – including special consideration for impacts on birds and bats – when siting and operating wind farms. The industry partners with academic leaders, researchers, regulators and wildlife organizations to ensure development and operation of wind energy is responsible and sustainable.
Wind energy does not emit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so it does not pollute the environment or contribute to climate change. Climate change remains the single largest threat to wildlife in that it destroys habitat, disrupts reproductive cycles, shifts ranges, alters hibernation habits, and impacts the availability of prey.
While the relative contribution to overall avian (bird and bat) mortality from wind turbines is extremely low relative to other sources of avian mortality, the wind energy industry is committed to continuous research and improvement in our understanding of avian interaction with wind turbines.
- Project developers ensure there are mechanisms in place to reduce potential risks to birds and bats and to aid in furthering our understanding of actual impacts on all avian species – both prior to and following commissioning of wind energy projects.
- The industry continues to monitor and research emerging issues with respect to bird impacts, and to take steps to further mitigate losses. We are also held to high standards by regulatory authorities.
The wind industry is actively engaged in leading-edge research to mitigate bat mortality at wind farms.
- The wind industry is one of the only industries that voluntarily studies and mitigates for wildlife impacts.
- To minimize and avoid risks to bats, project siting considerations play an important role. For example, project planners identify areas likely or known to be used by large numbers of bats and consideration is given to potential habitat impacts when deciding where to place wind turbines.
- Research is also investigating new ways to minimize impacts, such as identifying the wind speeds at which turbines can generate power with minimal impact on bats, the use of devices to deter bats from coming close to a turbine, and whether certain turbine colours are more effective in keeping bats away.
- To improve our understanding of bat/turbine interactions, the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) was formed in 2003. BWEC is dedicated to improving fatality search methods and advancing our understanding of bat fatalities. BWEC is also actively investigating ways to mitigate impacts, such as acoustic deterrents and potential mitigation through changes in operations.
- According to new data published by Environment Canada, wind turbines are not a significant cause of avian mortality relative to other sources. A series of 10 scientific papers in the Canadian journal Avian Conservation and Ecology/Écologie et conservation des oiseaux found that cat predation and collisions with windows, vehicles, and transmission lines caused more than 95 per cent of all avian mortality. Habitat loss due to the development and operation of wind projects is also not significant source of avian mortality.
- Wallace P. Erickson, et. al.: A Comprehensive Analysis of Small-Passerine Fatalities from Collision with Turbines at Wind Energy Facilities