The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) reaffirmed the wind energy industry’s commitment to respecting and protecting wildlife habitat and the environment in the wake of the release of the Ontario Environmental Commissioner’s Annual Report Part II.
Indeed, the wind energy industry globally and here in Ontario has a strong track record of partnering with academic researchers, regulators and wildlife organizations to ensure development of wind energy is responsible and sustainable.
“As the Environmental Commissioner has clearly stated, wind turbines are not a major cause of bird fatalities, but the industry is working diligently to reduce and mitigate impacts. In Canada, we have partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada to create and maintain the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database that provides the information required to assess the impact of wind turbines and inform the development of appropriate regulatory frameworks and mitigation requirements,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.
“We also note that Ontario’s current regulations concerning mortality thresholds are already some of the most stringent in the world and many wind energy projects are working with the Ministry of Natural Resources to implement mitigation measures such as operational controls (shutting down wind turbines during peak migratory periods) when required to limit potential impacts to birds and bats.”
While the relative contribution to overall avian mortality from wind turbines is extremely low relative to other sources of avian mortality, the wind energy industry is committed to continuous research and improvement in our understanding of avian interaction with wind turbines; this includes, for example, active involvement in the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative and submission of data to the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database. For information on birds and wind energy, please visit ‘Working to Protect Wildlife‘.
The wind energy industry is also actively engaged in leading-edge research to understand and mitigate bat mortality at wind farms. To improve our understanding of bat/turbine interactions, the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) was formed in 2003 by the wind energy industry and Bat Conservation International. BWEC is dedicated to improving fatality search methods and advancing our understanding of bat fatalities. BWEC is also actively investigating ways to mitigate impacts, such as acoustic deterrents and potential mitigation through changes in operations. For more information visit http://www.batsandwind.org
“Wind energy is emission-free and does not contribute to climate change – the single biggest threat to avian wildlife. As the Ontario Environmental Commissioner notes, wind farms in the province go through an extensive process to ensure that they are sited with respect for habitats and wildlife. These requirements are informed by the best available science and consider and account for the sensitivity of different sites,” said Hornung. “We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with government and regulators to ensure that wind energy is sited responsibly so that clean wind power can continue to help mitigate the significant impacts on wildlife from climate change.”