Statkraft paints it black to cut bird deaths

NORWAY: Norwegian utility Statkraft has launched an experiment to paint turbine rotor blades black in a bid to cut bird deaths at its 150MW Smola wind project.

Painting in progress at Smola wind farm
Painting in progress at Smola wind farm

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Four of the site’s 68 turbines are having one of their three rotor blades painted in the contrasting colour.

Statkraft is also investigating the use of ultra-violet (UV) light, which birds see much better than people, by installing UV lamps on turbines.

If the trial proves successful it might move on to testing UV-reflecting paint, invisible to the human eye but highly visible to birds.

The black rotor blades are primarily designed for the protection of white-tailed eagles, but Statkraft is also looking into contrasting colours for the lower part of the turbine tower to protect lower-flying birds such as ducks and grouse.

"There are some methods on the market today, most of them still in the experimental phase, which are intended to scare birds away from wind turbines," said Statkraft environmental adviser Bjorn Iuell.

"The problem is that most of them depend on both power supply and advanced technology, and this makes them less practical for offshore use, for instance.

Paint is much simpler. It can be applied to the installations during the production phase with no additional resources needed for operation and maintenance." 

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