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United States

Testing noise mechanism to drive bats away from wind turbines

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Researchers at Bat Conservation International (BCI) have started field tests of a mechanism designed to cloud a bat's world with annoying white noise that will drive them away from wind turbine blades. "It interferes with the echolocation of the bat and, in theory, moves them away from the rotor swept area and the zone of impact," according to BCI's Edward Arnett. BCI has been testing the unit, which broadcasts the noise through eight omni directional speakers, with bats trained to chase insects in a lab setting. Results have been mixed, says Arnett, but researchers are now taking it out into the field to see if it has an impact on bats as they forage for food and water. Those tests are expected to run through June and July. "If in fact those results suggest to us that the deterring mechanism will work, then we will move to the next step where we will put them on turbines." Arnett says that gathering more data on wind turbine and bat interactions is essential to understanding the risks and how they can be mitigated. "Would we rather collect that knowledge upfront to resolve the issue or do we pay for the litigation to resolve the issue without the knowledge? Think about that," he told delegates attending a session on wind and wildlife issues at the American Wind Energy Association's 2006 conference. "Access, and logistical and financial support for research to solve this problem is really what we are asking for. We don't want it to cost any more time and money, delays in development than we have to, but really need the information."

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