The difficult relationship between wildlife conservation and renewable energy can finally be resolved with this new technology by IdentiFlight International.
Humans have interfered with the animal kingdom in more harmful ways than one could imagine. Improvement in technology could make our lives easy but it does not always mean good things for other inhabitants of the earth. In fact, even technology and infrastructure that we think will help in the collective good could be detrimental.
Wind energy is one of the best alternatives to fossil fuels and in generating green energy. But the wind turbines are a major collision risk for birds, and an estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities take place every year. A company has taken this problem seriously and is now offering an effective solution.
IdentiFlight International is a company that was established with the aim to not only help wind energy businesses develop and operate but at the same time ensure its coexistence of avian wildlife. The company recently published a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology about their success in reducing eagle fatalities by the "automated curtailment of wind turbines." This is made possible by using cameras that detect eagles, which will then slow down or stop to avoid collision with them. "Automated monitoring systems could improve the efficacy of informed curtailment, yet such technology is undertested," the study noted, and a test was carried out at Top of the World Windpower Facility in Wyoming.
Carlos Jorquera, Chief Technology Officer for IdentiFlight, stated in a press release, "One of the advantages of the IdentiFlight system is its ability to learn from the massive amounts of data that it collects daily from eagles and other protected bird species around the world. By leveraging artificial intelligence technologies, such as machine learning and convolutional neural networks, the system continuously improves as the data set grows." The system has been fed with over 2.2 million eagle tracks and over 47 million images of protected species to ensure the turbines do not hit any more birds.
Ben Quinn, Senior Vice President at IdentiFlight said, "In fact, IdentiFlight has achieved dramatic improvements in the time since this study was completed with expanded capabilities and new avian species added to better serve global needs, including Red and Black Kites, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, Wedge-tailed Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, Lesser Spotted Eagles, and Condors. We are excited about the future of IdentiFlight and look forward to continuing to demonstrate that wildlife and wind generation can coexist." The testing was a success and was able to reduce 82 percent of eagle fatalities.
"IdentiFlight’s smart cameras, which spot birds of prey such as eagles & then halt wind turbines to protect the birds, can result in a large percentage reduction of bird deaths, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology." https://t.co/JScUtDMrEp— Amber Mac (@ambermac) February 4, 2021
"Avian collisions with turbine blades have been a long-time concern in the wind industry. The IdentiFlight avian detection technology was developed to address this problem and promote the successful coexistence of avian wildlife and wind energy," Quinn stated. "We now have conclusive evidence that IdentiFlight can be utilized as a mitigation and minimization solution for current and future wind projects." The testing was conducted by The Peregrine Fund, in cooperation with Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc. and the US Geological Survey.
Dr. Chris McClure, Director of Global Conservation Science at The Peregrine Fund and lead author on this study, said, "These results show that using the IdentiFlight system can lessen numbers of fatalities of eagles at wind energy facilities, reducing the conflict between wind energy and raptor conservation. As this technology continues to develop and improve, it has the potential to greatly impact raptor conservation around the globe." The "green versus green" conflict between wildlife conservation and renewable energy can finally be resolved with this new technology.