Common pipistrelle bats attracted to wind turbines

Posted: February 11, 2021 by oldbrew in research, turbines, wind

Pipistrelle bat [image credit: Drahkrub @ Wikipedia]

Their activity in the danger area seems to be mainly on nights with light winds and warm temperatures, but pinpointing the most relevant sites is not straightforward.
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One of the most abundant bats in Europe may be attracted to wind turbines, a new study shows.

The activity of common pipistrelle bats was monitored at 23 British wind farms and similar “control” locations close by without turbines, reports

Activity was around a third higher at turbines than at control locations, and two thirds of occasions with high activity were recorded at turbines rather than the controls.

The reasons for this are not clear.

Possibilities include attraction to the turbines themselves, or the presence of more of the bats’ insect prey around turbines.

“Either way it means the risk of fatality at wind turbines is increased, and probably explains the high fatalities of common pipistrelle bats seen at some wind farms across Europe,” said Dr. Suzanne Richardson.

Common pipistrelle bats account for more than half of all bat fatalities at turbine sites in Europe.

“We know bats are killed by turbines worldwide, and reducing these fatalities is essential to ensuring a global increase in wind energy with minimal impact on bats,” said Professor David Hosken, of the University of Exeter.

“To do that, we need to understand whether bats are actively attracted to, indifferent to, or repelled by, the turbines at large wind-energy installations.

“Our findings help explain why Environmental Impact Assessments conducted before the installation of turbines are poor predictors of actual fatality rates.

“Turbines are generally built in areas where bat activity is thought to be low, but this may not be an effective strategy if bats are attracted once turbines are built.

“Ongoing monitoring is required, and measures such as minimizing blade rotation in periods of high collision risk are likely to be the most effective way to reduce fatalities.”

Full report here.

  1. Jim says:

    Sounds as if they are forgetting something. Bats hunt by echolocation. And bats are not bright, they may be hunting the blade. Insects have a hard coating, blades have a hard coating. Problems could ensue.

  2. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Suicidal bats?

  3. JB says:

    Faux mating call, sillies.

  4. oldbrew says:

    From an earlier study: Behavior of bats at wind turbines (2014)

    Compounding the potential for bats to mistake wind turbines for trees is the possibility that they expect important resources when they arrive at the “trees.”

    But the study from the blog post says: ‘However, this is unlikely to be the primary explanation in Europe, where most casualties are not tree-roosting species.’

  5. ivan says:

    Did they check the windmill blades for impacted bugs – something the bats could well be following. There is also the possibility of infrasound attracting the bats and/or disrupting their navigation systems.

    Another thing they should be investigating is the death of protected birds by windmill blades especially when the mills are installed on bird migration flight paths.

  6. oldmanK says:

    They should check flight orientation. Operating turbine likely leave a heat trail that attracts insects.

  7. Windmills likely have lights to warn Airplanes. Insects are attracted to lights at night, especially when wind is low, Bats are attracted to insects.

    Just a few thoughts.

  8. tom0mason says:

    I wonder what a windmills batting average is?

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