Norway

Norway

Ørsted backs AI bird-tracking at offshore wind farms

Danish developer backs deep-tech startup and opens wind farms to test AI-led bird monitoring system

Fears over offshore wind farms’ effect on bird populations have consistently caused delays to deployment (pic credit: Jiande Wu/Getty Images)
Fears over offshore wind farms’ effect on bird populations have consistently caused delays to deployment (pic credit: Jiande Wu/Getty Images)

Ørsted has invested in Spoor, a Norwegian deep-tech startup offering an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to monitor and track birdlife at offshore wind farms. 

Total seed funding of €2.3 million – from Ørsted and venture capital firms Nysnø Climate Investments, Wiski Capital, Norrsken Foundation and Antler – will help the firm test and commercialise the new technology. 

Ørsted is also partnering with Spoor to develop and commercialise the technology, using the wind company’s global wind farms as test and demonstration sites. 

The Danish developer claims the bird monitoring tool is “cost-effective and highly scalable”, can accurately identify and track birds, with no blind spots, and can be an improvement on the current combination of cameras, radars and human observers. 

Starting work at wind farms this year, the partnership will “vastly accelerate Spoor’s technology development timeline by training the AI to relevant regional bird species”, Ørsted added. 

The system will be commercially available to the broader industry.  

Ørsted explained that it is “notoriously challenging” to monitor bird behaviour, so the offshore wind industry uses precautionary models to estimate collisions when designing wind farms. But studies suggest models overestimate collisions and better understanding of bird behaviour will mean wind farm design can be optimised. 

Fears over offshore wind farms’ effect on bird populations have consistently caused delays to deployment.

In 2017, a legal challenge over bird life effects, which was pursued to the UK’s Supreme Court, held up development of three major wind farms in Scottish waters, before consent was finally confirmed.

In April this year two of those – 448MW Neart na Gaoithe Neart na Gaoithe (448MW) OffshoreFirth of Forth, Scotland, UK, Europe Click to see full details and 1075MW Seagreen 1 Seagreen 1 (1075MW) OffshoreFirth of Forth, UK, Europe Click to see full details – joined with SSE Renewables’ 4100MW Berwick Bank Wind Farm (formerly Berwick Bank and Marr Bank) Berwick Bank Wind Farm (formerly Berwick Bank and Marr Bank) (4100MW) OffshoreFirth of Forth, UK, Europe Click to see full details and technology company Strix to kick off a two-year operational study using cameras and radar. It is said to be the first seabird interaction study of its kind in Scotland on a commercial wind farm.

The study was devised in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, NatureScot, Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Marine Scotland Science.

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