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Company develops AI technology that could prevent wind turbines from killing thousands of birds each year: 'Crucial to manage and mitigate potential risks'

This system is another effort to help ease our transition to clean energy sources.

This system is another effort to help ease our transition to clean energy sources.

Photo Credit: iStock

As countries continue to install wind turbines as a way of moving away from fossil fuels and turning to renewable energy solutions, they are facing a problem of rising bird deaths. However, an Australian company is using artificial intelligence to mitigate the issue.

As explained by Interesting Engineering, Woolnorth Renewables turned to AI-based technology to save wedgetail eagles native to the island state of Tasmania, Australia, where the company has its wind farms. The MIT Climate Portal reported that up to 679,000 birds are killed yearly by turbine collisions in the United States alone.

According to Interesting Engineering, a wind farm in the U.S. was fined $8 million for eagle deaths last year, and a 900-megawatt wind farm in Tasmania was facing the possibility of a five-month ban every year before it even began operations. Woolnorth Renewables' system could be a viable solution.

Dubbed IdentiFlight, the system reportedly "uses optical sensors and leverages the power of AI to identify eagles and other protected birds flying up to 0.6 miles (one km) away from the turbines," according to Interesting Engineering. Seconds later, the system "calculates the trajectory of the birds relative to the rotary sweep area (RSA) of the turbine and determines if one or more turbines need to be shut down."

Woolnorth Renewables reportedly plans to install 30 IdentiFlight units on its 168-megawatt wind farm. The company tested the technology at another 148-MW wind farm over an 18-month period from August 2020 to February 2022 and reported a detection accuracy of 99% and a potential to reduce fatalities by 85%.

"Wind farms are critical to our clean energy transition and new technologies like IdentiFlight are crucial to manage and mitigate potential risks," Giles Rinckes, general manager at Woolnorth, told Renew Economy.

While wind turbines pose a clear threat to birds, there are other dangers that eclipse them. Cats cause the deaths of billions of birds each year in the U.S., with building and vehicle collisions, poisonings, run-ins with electrical lines, and dirty energy sources such as coal plants also leading to bird fatalities.

The system by Woolnorth Renewables is another effort to help ease our transition to clean energy sources. Installing solar panels and heat pumps are options that help reduce our impact on the environment while also saving money.

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