The threat posed to birds by wind turbines has long been debated. A wind farm being built off Finland’s west coast will feature a new system designed to limit the danger — potentially setting a new standard for future wind power facilities in the country.
The 11-turbine maritime wind farm to open next summer on Tahkoluoto Island offshore from Pori will be unusual in global terms. It will include a new bird radar. Pori’s coastal and delta area is one of Finland’s most important areas for migratory birds.
The radar, which costs about $550 million, will track avian flight patterns and potential changes in them. The bird research is to carry on as long for the entire lifespan of the wind farm.
“Finland has hardly any experience in researching the impact of wind power on birdlife; internationally it’s only been studied for about a decade,” says Aappo Luukkonen, an avian issues specialist with the major Finnish consulting firm Pöyry.
The Pori facility will also test mechanisms to keep birds away and to stop the turbines when they are approaching it.
“Turbines can be automatically braked if a bird flies too close to the wind park or an individual unit,” says Geert-Jan Bluemink, leader of the wind power research team at the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland.
His institution is taking part in the bird research at Suomen Hyötytuuli’s Tahkoluoto wind park, along with Pöyry and the Pori unit of the Tampere University of Technology.