Sunday, April 2 2023 Sign In   |    Register

News Quick Search



Front Page
Power News
Today's News
Yesterday's News
Week of Mar 27
Week of Mar 20
Week of Mar 13
Week of Mar 06
Week of Feb 27
By Topic
By News Partner
Gas News
News Customization


Pro Plus(+)

Add on products to your professional subscription.
  • Energy Archive News

    Home > News > Power News > News Article

    Share by Email E-mail Printer Friendly Print

    wind turbine bird warning device.(classroom challenge)

    February 2, 2023 - Technology and Engineering Teacher


      The Problem

      In our modern energy economy, wind turbines are finding a place for large-scale wind energy generation. These structures are of necessity very tall (hundreds of feet in the air) with great wind-swept blades that can be deadly for birds, How many flying creatures have been injured or killed because of wind turbines today, and are projected into the future?

      Are bird kills a criterion by which a wind turbine installation is evaluated? Do good wind speeds correspond to high bird migration activity, making this a condition that promotes bird kills?

      This bird kill situation begs the questions:

      * Could warning devices be built into turbine blades or support structures that would warn birds?

      * Could these warning devices be strategically located near existing wind machines? How about a large area wind farm?

      * Might there be a way to alert wind machines from a distance, to activate their warning mechanisms?

      Hopefully, this design challenge will get those creative minds in your classroom asking questions and synthesizing interesting options and solutions.

      Starting the Problem Analysis

      It's time to get those students interested in birds and related creatures, and that begins with the internet and maybe the biology teachers at school, How high do birds tend to fly on regular or migratory treks? How would a bird perceive a rotating blade in space? Would such a spinning blade confuse their senses?

      It's been said that ground animals have trouble judging the speed of moving vehicles and thus get killed on the roads. Do birds have such a problem in the air? Just how high are wind machines today and the even larger machines being planned? Is there a certain family of wind machines that are more lethal to bird populations? Is there a safe design height for wind machines?

      Can birds be warned acoustically? Has anyone tried to do this before? Bats can communicate and locate objects using a bird-type radar--might this ability double as a warning signal? Are wind turbine designers and manufacturers concerned with this bird threat? Have they built and tried warning systems or perhaps some other kind of warning/avoidance system? Have environmental groups applied pressure to designers and installers to address the concern? Is there active research now underway at universities or other animal safety organizations to address the problem?

      Warning Devices

      What types of warning signal might be considered either for location on the wind machine support structure or on its spinning blades--such as acoustic emissions, flashing lights, or something else that might be considered? Does this warning signal work for a broad spectrum of flying creatures or vary greatly among species? Would a cluster of warning signals be employed?

      How much would these warning devices cost and how could they be attached for long-life deployment? If installed on the spinning blades, would they affect aerodynamic performance of the machine and result in loss of power and damaging vibration to the machine?

      Can changing the color of the wind machine structure and blades alter a bird's perception of the machine itself and prompt it to avoid the potentially dangerous situation? Is there another option for warning birds--maybe another portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to which birds may respond, sensing a warning signal?

      What about varying the spinning rate of the turbine as birds are detected approaching the machine as a viable way to avoid bird kills? This raises other questions, like how can humans detect when birds are approaching? How do humans, or their designed equipment, communicate with the wind turbines? Where does one locate the bird-detection equipment?

      Further Thinking

      Having delved deeply into wind machine-induced bird kills, how do your students think wind machines ought to be retrofitted to reduce bird kills? Should wind machines simply be designed differently? Encourage out-of-the-box thinking!

      Harry T. Roman is a retired engineer/ inventor and author of technology education/ STEM books, math card games, and teacher resource materials, He can be reached at


    Other Articles - Utility Business / General


       Home  -  Feedback  -  Contact Us  -  Safe Sender  -  About Energy Central   
    Copyright © 1996-2023 by CyberTech, Inc. All rights reserved.
    Energy Central® and Energy Central Professional® are registered trademarks of CyberTech, Incorporated. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for trading purposes. CyberTech does not warrant that the information or services of Energy Central will meet any specific requirements; nor will it be error free or uninterrupted; nor shall CyberTech be liable for any indirect, incidental or consequential damages (including lost data, information or profits) sustained or incurred in connection with the use of, operation of, or inability to use Energy Central. Other terms of use may apply. Membership information is confidential and subject to our privacy agreement.