The ORJIP Bird Collision Avoidance Study aims to use innovative methodologies to understand how bird interact with offshore wind farms to provide a robust evidence base
How birds interact with offshore wind farms and their behaviour around and within wind farms is unknown which can limit and delay the offshore wind permitting process. Tools exist to quantify the avoidance behaviour and risk of collision but rely on assumptions. Up until now, the empirical evidence bird behaviour within an operational wind farm to inform Environmental Impact Assessments for offshore wind farm developments has been limited.
The Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme (ORJIP) Bird Collision Avoidance Study, which started in March 2014, was the first of its kind and employed a multi-sensor monitoring system to track birds within and around the wind farm, providing results that will significantly progress our understanding of how birds interact with offshore wind farms.
Niras and DHI were contracted to install state of the art monitoring equipment at Vattenfall’s Thanet Offshore Wind farm to monitor micro, meso and macro bird avoidance behaviours. The multimillion pound, collaborative study was commissioned by 11 leading offshore wind developers, The Crown Estate, The Crown Estate Scotland and Marine Scotland, was supported with funding from the UK Government and was managed by the Carbon Trust. The project was developed and run with the support and advice from the UK and Northern Europe’s leading ornithologists and environmental advisers such as Natural England and RSPB.
The project provides robust, substantive, empirical evidence on the levels of avoidance behaviour and collision to improve collision risk models and therefore give greater certainty on the true impact of offshore wind farms on marine birds.
The study included analysis of over 600,000 videos, of which only 12,131 contained evidence of bird activity and only six collisions with turbines were observed. The analysis revealed that collision risk of seabirds was much less than currently expected based on current understanding and during the study seabirds were observed to exhibited avoidance behavior and change their flight path to avoid the turbines.
This will encourage the use of proven, practical and cost-effective monitoring systems to gather an empirical evidence base to reduce uncertainty for developers, advisors and regulators during collision risk modelling for consenting applications.
The study completed in April 2018 and ORJIP hopes the conclusions from this research on collision risk will allow better informed wind farm design and consent decisions just as the next generation of more powerful offshore turbines are being tested and manufactured. As a result the research will support UK Government plans to rapidly and sustainably grow the offshore wind sector by 2030.
The full report can be found here:
A thermal camera, positioned on a turbine, used on the bird collision avoidance study