Ultrasonic technology helps protect bats at wind sites

July 03, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Ultrasonic technology helps protect bats at wind sites
Duke Energy Renewables, a clean energy subsidiary of utility giant Duke Energy (Charlotte, NC), has announced that it is working with wind and solar measurement system manufacturer NRG Systems (Hinesburg, VT) to install a bat deterrent system to help protect the flying mammals at its wind sites.

The company says it will install NRG Systems' Bat Deterrent System over a five-year period at 255 wind turbines at its Los Vientos III, IV and V wind sites in Texas beginning in July, becoming the first company to commercially deploy the systems in the continental United States. Texas has a large population of bats, which are often drawn to the spinning turbines.

To help discourage the bats from approaching, the bat deterrent system technology uses ultrasound to block the sonar that bats use to navigate in the dark, causing them to avoid areas around the wind turbines.

"At Duke Energy, we're focused on generating clean, renewable energy for customers while also protecting the native wildlife around our generation facilities," says Greg Aldrich, lead environmental scientist with Duke Energy. "With this new technology, we're pleased that we'll be able to significantly reduce the impacts on bats and continue our environmental leadership in this area."

The Rio Grande Valley, where the Los Vientos wind projects are located, has a large population of common bat species that provide tremendous pest control benefits to local farmers and ranchers, says the company. With the goal of maintaining this local bat population, a two-year field study conducted by Duke Energy Renewables, NRG Systems, and Texas State University found that NRG's Bat Deterrent System reduced overall bat fatalities by 50% around wind turbine locations at Los Vientos III, IV and V.

The system itself is mounted on the nacelle (the covering that houses all the generating components) of the wind turbine. Once installed, it emits continuous ultrasonic energy in the same frequency range as the bio sonar used by the bats to orient, forage, and locate objects.

When bats enter the deterrent system's operating airspace, the ultrasonic energy essentially disrupts their bio sonar, making it difficult for them to find food sources and navigate their surroundings, effectively minimizing their interactions with the wind turbines. The ultrasonic

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