Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 05

Using Radar to Protect Birds from Wind Farms

Posted in Energy Inventions | Wind Farms | Wind Power

Radar Wind Farm The new Peñascal wind farm in Texas hopes to become a model for responsible development by installing new radar technology to protect migratory birds and wildlife. According to recent studies, wind farms kill about 7,000 birds a year, although actual numbers are thought to be much higher. The new 202MW wind farm, operated by Spanish firm Iberdrola Renewables, uses radar technology developed by Florida based DeTect, Inc.

The same technology was originally developed for NASA and the US Air Force. It can detect approaching birds up to four miles away and assess their altitude, numbers and visibility. It then analyzes weather conditions to determine if they are in danger of flying into wind turbine blades. If so, the turbines are programmed to automatically shut down and restart once the birds are a safe distance away.

The Peñascal wind farm is located on the Central Flyway, a main route for migratory birds in the Americas. Millions of birds funnel through the narrow air corridor during the semiannual migration. A study in the autumn of 2007 found 4,000 birds an hour passing overhead.

Conservationists who have fought against wind farms because of their impact on wildlife remain skeptical of this apparent ‘easy fix’. They argue that wind farms should be placed away from migratory routes to begin with, and that the new technology still does not address the disturbance of wildlife habitat and nesting grounds in the vicinity.

What do you think of this idea?

  • Elke Sachsenmaier

    Hello there,

    Though I’m not a so called conservationist I’m sure that it would be better to place the NEW wind farms away from migratory routes of the birds. But in cases of the already existing ones it’s great to have a solution now! I’m just wondering if ALL the owners of that farms will install the new system. But I really hope that they’ll do so.

    Thanks for your work and for keeping me informed about the newest steps towards a healthier future. I’d dance around the table if you’d soon announce an invention regarding AIRCRAFT that could avoid its totally underrated POLLUTION. Is there anything coming up in the near future? If not….black screen for life on this planet.
    With hopeful greetings

    Elke Sachsenmaier

  • Bill McLachlan

    It would seem that the development of technology that would emit a sound frequency (or a smell) abhorrent to birds would be more efficient in the sense of not having to shutdown the wind farm.

  • Dan Chance

    Let’s see save the birds or save the planet? hummm save the birds or save the planet… I think the people should come first and that they should do what they can to reduce the impact on the birds but that if people don’t take action that can reduce the carbon dioxide substantially and very soon, millions of birds will perish along with billions of humans.

    I wonder do birds avoid loud noises or other irritants like people do? If so could wind generators be equipped with some warning device that would simply direct birds to a safe altitude, continue flying and continue operating?

  • John Boston

    Nice idea, but considering how fast the birds fly, and how slowly the giant blades rotate, the fact that the blades will shut down won’t keep birds from hitting them. It’s the space the blades and towers occupy within the birds’ flight paths that is the problem.

    Not that I am against wind farms. Even if they kill 10x as many birds as estimated, I bet that pales in comparison to those killed by more traditional methods of energy production.

  • Norman Wolf

    Whatever it takes to get off of foreign oil, that’s fine with me. Trying to solve that is #1… if at first we don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try again. And, keep trying.

  • Kyle Harris

    Hopefully those birds are from one of the many invasive species that occupy our vast country.

  • John Boston

    Kyle, if I found out that windmills preferred starlings and house sparrows, I’d say we build as many as possible!

  • Mike

    It frustrates me that this debate is still ongoing, as the number of bird deaths due to wind turbines is insignificant. Cats outnumber the number wind turbines considerably. A study done by the American Bird Conservancy in Wisconsin estimates that feral and domestic cats are responsible for 39 million bird deaths a year. Nearly a billion birds die due to glass windows in buildings.

    Some others include:
    Collisions with vehicles- 60 million
    Utility Transmission and Distribution lines – 174 million
    Lighted Communications Towers- 50 million
    Agricultural Pesticides- 67 million

    See (

    If wind turbines were the only thing killing birds, I would be more sympathetic with the conservationists’ argument. But considering the comparatively slight influence wind energy has on bird deaths, excuse me if I’m a little dismissive of 7000 birds.

  • ken upton

    Birds do not fly as fast as the tips of the the big blades with can reach the speeds of around 300 knots. The problem is our birds pray have long vision only when they are hunting and when they swoop down for their pray at about 120 knots . Get hit and are eaten by foxes at the base or manage to fly off with injuries only to die off later from them . So there is no real facts on how many these monsters kill. This is destroying the natural pyramid and the small pest get out of control . Like a few years ago , the voles destroyed some major harvests in Spain. Bankrupting many small farmers

  • 4 Win

    In addition to its prime location, Gulf Wind uses advanced radar technology to protect the area’s migratory birds

  • delta farce

    hmm rather shallow and pedantic i would say if these birds were sparrows i would agree with you all but this bird problem is probably happening in many places

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