Leaders of the Wind Wildlife Research Fund announced that the Fund, a new wind industry-led initiative to pool investment for wind-wildlife solutions, raised $828,000 to support and implement seven priority research projects in 2019. By investing in key research, the Fund aims to develop solutions to wildlife challenges, focus conservation efforts, expedite wind energy siting and permitting, and reduce costs.
The seven projects will be completed in 2019 by leading scientists managed by the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI), an independent nonprofit collaborative science organization that is the secretariat of the Fund. Project results will undergo peer review in the fall of 2019 and will ultimately be submitted for publication.
“The Wind Wildlife Research Fund is an innovative approach to addressing one of the wind industry’s greatest externalities,” said Miguel Prado, CEO of EDP Renewables North America. “More so than ever before, the wind industry is coming together to pool resources on targeted priorities. Together, we can rapidly advance solutions to key challenges for wind energy and wildlife and move technology forward. I am excited to see the wind industry and collaborators share and implement what we learn from this vital research.”
The projects address challenges that scientists, industry, and conservationists have identified as highest-priority. For bats, projects focus on refining smart curtailment practices for bats and enhance understanding of bat activities and fatalities. For eagles, studies aim to refine curtailment and fatality estimates. For grouse, new information on movement and response of lesser prairie-chicken at a wind facility will be assessed.
“These priority research projects were identified and selected to address information needs for wildlife and monitoring in relation to wind energy impacts,” said Joan Heredia, Senior Director of Environmental Permitting for Enel Green Power North America and Vice Chair of the Fund. “The results will provide science-based solutions that will improve our understanding of impacts and enable us to target conservation efforts.”
Wind energy is a key part of the strategy for reducing emissions and addressing climate change. While minimizing the effects of climate change benefits countless species of wildlife, wind energy, like all sources of energy, does negatively impact some species.
According to Garry George, Renewable Energy Director for the National Audubon Society, “climate change is the biggest threat to birds. In addition to the critical reduction of the emissions that cause climate change, the companies that founded and fund the Fund are committing to conservation outcomes for birds and other wildlife with an investment in good science and research to inform siting and operation of turbines. That voluntary investment is an investment in a sustainable wind energy future for wind and wildlife that other energy industries would do well to adopt.”
In March, the Fund also released a Request for Proposals soliciting research projects to begin in 2020 on better understanding and addressing wind-wildlife challenges. Proposals will be selected this summer, and Fund leaders are committed to raising funds to support the highest priority projects.
The 2019 research projects and plans for 2020 were announced to more than 400 attendees at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Wind Project Siting and Environmental Compliance Conference last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by Fund Chair Kyle Boudreaux, NextEra Energy Resources.
30 companies representing 54% of installed wind energy projects in the U.S. have joined the Fund, including Apex Clean Energy, Avangrid Renewables, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Clearway Energy, ConnectGen, DTE Energy, Duke Energy Renewables, EDF Renewables, EDP Renewables, Enel Green Power North America, ENGIE, IdentiFlight, Innogy, Invenergy, Leeward Renewable Energy, MAP Energy, NextEra Energy, NRG Systems, Orion Renewable Energy Group, Pattern Energy Group, Portland General Electric, Puget Sound Energy, RES (Renewable Energy Systems), Scout Clean Energy, Siemens Energy, Southern Power, sPower, Tradewind Energy, Vestas Americas, and the American Wind Energy Association.
“EDF Renewables is proud to be a Partner in the Wind Wildlife Research Fund at this pivotal point time for the wind industry,” said Alyssa Edwards, Director of Environmental Permitting for EDF Renewables. “The need to mitigate climate change is more urgent than ever – and we are in a position to significantly advance wildlife conservation through evidence based, meaningful initiatives. The Fund facilitates answering the most pressing research questions by utilizing millions of dollars’ worth of wind site data collection, state of the art technologies, and the evolution of our scientific understanding regarding wind and wildlife.”