Assessing the impact of marine wind farms on birds through movement modelling

  • Masden E
  • Reeve R
  • Desholm M
 et al. 
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Abstract

Advances in technology and engineering, along with European Union renewable energy targets, have stimulated a rapid growth of the wind power sector. Wind farms contribute to carbon emission reductions, but there is a need to ensure that these structures do not adversely impact the populations that interact with them, particularly birds. We developed movement models based on observed avoidance responses of common eider Somateria mollissima to wind farms to predict, and identify potential measures to reduce, impacts. Flight trajectory data that were collected post-construction of the Danish Nysted offshore wind farm were used to parameterize competing models of bird movements around turbines. The model most closely fitting the observed data incorporated individual variation in the minimum distance at which birds responded to the turbines. We show how such models can contribute to the spatial planning of wind farms by assessing their extent, turbine spacing and configurations on the probability of birds passing between the turbines. Avian movement models can make new contributions to environmental assessments of wind farm developments, and provide insights into how to reduce impacts that can be identified at the planning stage.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Barriers to movement
  • Collision
  • Common eider
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Nysted offshore wind farm
  • Somateria mollissima

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