Wind energy developers, conservationists, biologists, engineers, and wildlife managers and regulators participated in the AWWI Open House on Tuesday, November 14. Over 60 attendees addressed issues surrounding wind energy and conservation, the importance of collaboration, and the groundbreaking opportunities of advanced technologies that are paving the way for the future.
Held at the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) office in downtown Washington, DC, the Open House kicked off with a welcome from Collin O’Mara, NWF President and CEO, and remarks from Abby Arnold, AWWI Executive Director welcoming all in attendance. Jan Blomstrann, one of AWWI’s Founders, former Chair of AWWI’s Board, and Co-Chair of the AWWI 10th Anniversary Host Committee, announced AWWI’s 10th Anniversary Wind and Wildlife: Together campaign honoring founders, celebrating in the results of the first 10 years of collaboration, and laying the groundwork for the future (watch for more information as we launch this campaign).
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, spoke about the importance of AWWI partners and friends support for and commitment to solutions to wind and wildlife. Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, discussed the current state of wind energy and conservation and the headway only possible by partners’ dedication to collaborating on the science and key issues.
Technological solutions to wind and wildlife challenges were the focus of the event. A panel discussion on the huge potential for, and complex challenges of, minimization technologies gave remarkable insight into the great opportunity to solve wind-wildlife challenges. The panel provided an unprecedented opportunity for esteemed experts from the wind industry, academic and conservation communities, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with combined decades of experience to dive into issues of innovation, engineering, and implementation challenges, focusing on practical considerations about what we are learning from the science and how to apply it in the field.
The panelists shared that engineering challenges, costs of implementation, and gaps in knowledge are all areas where more work is needed. For example, more needs to be learned about bat behavior to understand the risks to bats and create effective strategies to reduce those risks.
In the face of these challenges, the collaborative process has resulted in great progress in understanding and developing solutions – a unique phenomenon among energy sources, noted one participant. The discussions illustrated how engaged and enthusiastic are all those who are working together every day to help fight climate change, protect wildlife, and design the most efficient systems possible to advance wind energy and conservation.
This first AWWI Open House comes at a key time. As AWWI prepares to launch its 10th Anniversary campaign in 2018, the discussions brought home the achievements of combining expertise and reaching solutions.
“I can see a day when we have a technology that is 100% effective at detecting and curtailing,” said one participant, “We’re showing what AWWI, and AWWI members who are invested in this progress, can achieve. It’s time to shine a light on this success.”
Another participant summed up the theme of the event, and of the vision for wind and wildlife: “For almost every single project there is collaboration. There are different perspectives but many of our goals are aligned. We can solve these issues together.”