Wind Industry Collaborates to Support Research on Critical Topics.
The Fund, launched in 2019 and managed by the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI), is a unique industry-led initiative that pools resources to advance collaborative research on wind-wildlife interactions. Fund studies use a variety of host sites and leverage expertise, data, and technological and financial resources from many collaborators. The goal of this research is to produce scientifically robust solutions that will enable the continued expansion of wind energy while also increasing our understanding of wildlife conservation and reducing overall investment from individual projects or companies.
Thirty-one leading wind companies representing more than 63% of the total installed U.S. wind capacity have invested in the Fund in 2020. Several of the 2020 projects are a continuation of research begun in 2019. All 2020 projects expand the understanding of the challenges and the potential solutions for wind-wildlife interactions with a specific focus on bats, eagles, and prairie grouse. These projects are evaluating:
- The relationship between turbine size and bat and bird mortality
- Ways to refine turbine curtailment strategies to reduce eagle collision risk while minimizing production losses
- The accuracy of eagle mortality estimation and modeling
- The response of lesser prairie-chicken to wind energy development
- Behavior of flying insects around wind turbines and the relationship to bat behavior
“In 2020, the Fund is investing in research projects that will assist in answering urgent questions facing wind energy in order to reduce constraints to expanding clean energy while advancing conservation techniques,” said Kyle Boudreaux, NextEra Energy and Chair of the Fund Advisory Council. “Fund participants will continue to assimilate what we are learning, identify knowledge gaps, and create opportunities to leverage our collective resources in order to advance wind-wildlife research.”
Wind developers make many efforts to avoid wildlife impacts, but even in the best-case scenario, some level of interaction between wind farms and wildlife is unavoidable. As the number of wind installations increases—according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, wind energy in the U.S. might need to expand 10-fold or more by 2050 to keep climate warming under 2°C – answering these questions becomes even more important. The results of the research will also be used to inform regulatory and business decision making. All research is conducted by independent third-party investigators, thoroughly reviewed by scientific experts, and the results are published. The results from 2019 projects will be available here beginning this spring.
The Fund’s activities and priorities are guided by an Advisory Council composed of the Fund’s major contributors and align with AWWI’s National Wind Wildlife Research Plan. All Fund participants work together to select the projects, and each individual company determines their level of support for each research project. To learn more about the Wind Wildlife Research Fund, contact AWWI Executive Director Abby Arnold at email@example.com.