Track: Biology and Behavior (bats, eagles and other species)
Managing Air as Bat Habitat to Reduce Turbine-related Risk
Presentation Description: Although the amount of bat activity measured in pre-construction surveys has not helped predict bat fatality rates, Stantec has documented consistent relationships between fatality rates and the proportion of bat activity at nacelle height exposed to turbine operation. This finding suggests that the metric of exposed bat activity could provide a useful basis to evaluate risk and design smart curtailment programs based on site-specific data. Underlying this finding is the fact that air itself is the habitat in which bats interact with wind turbines, and the dynamic characteristics of the aerosphere affect not only bat behavior but the ability to generate energy from the wind. Stantec recorded bat activity concurrent with fatality monitoring at two wind farms in West Virginia between 2012 and 2018, providing an unprecedented opportunity to quantify relationships between bat activity and weather conditions in the rotor zone. As part of a research project on smart curtailment funded by the Department of Energy, we characterized these relationships per turbine, year, and project to assess variability in how bats use the aerosphere among species and across different spatial and temporal scales. This information will help guide how acoustic data can be used to design and evaluate smart curtailment programs and provides a technical foundation for future research.