Innovative new product obliterates problem of bird droppings on wind farms

Seabird droppings or ‘guano’ is costing the global wind industry millions of pounds a year in delays and clean-up costs but a new product and service is set to eradicate the problem for good after a successful pilot showed ‘astonishing’ results.

‘Scaretech’ was trialled for three weeks on Dong Energy’s Race Bank wind farm off the North-East coast and during that time no new guano was recorded on the treated areas – something previously unheard of in the industry.

The revolutionary product is based on a traditional scarecrow concept – used successfully for centuries to keep birds off crops – and adapted for the harsh offshore environment of a wind farm or oil platform. Designed to look like an offshore wind worker in full protective clothing, Scaretech is manufactured from steel, flexible foam and PVC and powered by solar panels. It is securely fixed to the offshore structure so it can operate in extreme weather conditions.

As well as having flexibility to simulate a living person, Scaretech emits sporadic and sensored loud noises and high intensity strobe lights which deter seabirds from landing on the structure.

The idea was developed by four wind industry experts: Terry Christie, Paul Stonebanks, Alison Isbister and Patrick Armstrong following a chance incident involving a forgotten jacket.

Wind worker, Terry was heading home on a vessel with his team when someone noticed a familiar high visibility PPE colour on the now distant offshore wind turbine they’d been working on. Thinking someone had been left behind, the vessel returned to the wind turbine to find it was a forgotten high-vis protective jacket – not a man.

Interestingly the area around the abandoned jacket was the only place seagulls weren’t landing within the proximity. After discussing the phenomenon with colleague Alison Isbister, the idea for Scaretech was born. Fellow-engineer Patrick Armstrong designed the final concept with entrepreneur Paul Stonebanks providing funding and business advice to bring the idea to life.

Following its overwhelmingly successful pilot with Dong Energy, Scaretech will now be rolled out to the global offshore market.

Scaretech Global’s marketing and sales director, Alison Isbister, said: “Guano poses a serious health hazard and is a huge risk as it often results in costly operational delays and clean-up costs.

“Previous attempts at managing the problem have proved ineffective and tend to be reactive, which is why we recognise a huge opportunity for the Scaretech product. It’s a really simple concept, based on hundreds of years-worth of evidence showing scarecrows as an effective bird deterrent. Scaretech works beyond everyone’s expectations and we now plan to launch it to the global wind industry, as well as providing a 24-hour field cleaning and management service.

“Unlike existing products and services, Scaretech will provide wind companies with a guaranteed solution to the guano problem and complete peace of mind.”

Richard Appleby, health and safety adviser for Dong Energy said: “Guano is a huge problem for wind companies – particularly during construction phase as it can cause unacceptable delays on projects and significantly ramp up costs. Health and safety is an absolute priority to Dong Energy so this product provides a solution we’ve been searching for.

“I was present when the Scaretech system was originally installed and the results of the trial were frankly astonishing!!!

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this system to be as successful as it has proved to be, but the results are there for all to see. From a health and safety aspect I’m more than happy to give Scare-tech a huge thumbs-up. This product is a game-changer for the wind industry and the guano issue.”

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