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Wildlife and Renewable Energy: Stereo-Optic Imaging
Wildlife and Renewable Energy: Stereo-Optic Imaging

Stereo-Optic High Definition Imaging: A New Technology to Understand Bird and Bat Avoidance of Wind Turbines

BRI, National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) at University of Maine Orono, HiDef Surveying Limited (HiDef), and SunEdison are currently working to refine a stereo-optic, high-definition camera system with night vision capability to track flying animals in three dimensions. This system will help researchers learn how birds and bats behave around wind turbines so that developers can reduce risks to wildlife over the long term.

Investigators: Evan Adams, Ph.D., Melissa DuronWing Goodale
Contributing BRI Staff: Emily Connelly, Chris DeSorbo, Andrew Gilbert, Bill Hanson, Robby Lambert, Iain Stenhouse, Ph.D., Kate Williams, Dave Yates

Project Overview

Project Overview

Researchers will employ two ultra high-definition cameras to create a three-dimensional view of a wind turbine, the horizon, and the area surrounding the turbine. Cameras will record during the day and also at night, using a new near-infrared technology to detect animal movements. In addition, stereo camera systems will be deployed at one or more of SunEdison’s wind farms in Maine.

Team members from the University of Maine’s Robot Interaction Lab will develop algorithms to support partially automated detection of eagles and bats. This component is key to reducing the analysis time required due to huge data sets from the camera systems.

Study Goals

Study Goals

Developing technology to determine how eagles and bats respond to and avoid wind turbines will promote a better understanding of the nature of wildlife risks, or the lack thereof, at wind farms. It will also reduce uncertainty about the potential for unintended impacts during operation. In the future, these camera systems could provide a reliable way to detect bird and bat responses to wind projects offshore, where it is not possible to conduct traditional wildlife monitoring.
Expected Deliverables/Outcomes

Expected Deliverables/Outcomes

By the end of this project, collaborators will have moved this technology from prototype to a system that can be used to provide detailed information about how different species respond to individual wind turbines in various seasons and weather conditions.
Project Collaborators

Project Collaborators

  • SunEdison
    • Robert Roy, Manager, Ecological Services
    • Dave Cowan, Vice President, Environmental Affairs 
  • HiDef Aerial Surveying 
    • Steve Burns, Technical Director 
  • National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis
    • Dr. Reinhard Moratz, Associate Professor
 

Project Funding

This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under award DE-EE0006803.
 
Photo Credits: Header Photo © Sharon Fiedler; Camera © BRI-Melissa Duron; Bald Eagle © Sharon Fiedler; Bat © BRI-Dave Yates
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