SEEN - SE European Bird Migration Network
Birds and offshore wind farm location ? some comments on pre-building monitoring

Przemysław Busse

Bird Migration Research Station, University of Gdańsk, Przebendowo, Poland

Looking for clean and renewable energy sources is a common custom in all developed countries throughout the World. One of these sources is wind energy that is accessible in nearly all locations of the earth surface, both on land and on seas. In some countries, e.g. in Germany, land locations are already extensively occupied by wind farms and locations of them offshore is more and more attractive. As any new technology, wind energy has its darker sides. At land localities some limitations of wind farm distribution are due to human settlements and biological constraints, among others – bird migration. The offshore locations are limited by technological constraints, e.g. depth of waters and geological structure of the ground, ship traffic and biological value of the area concerned. The most important biological constraints are fish and bird distributions. As for birds, two different parameters should be taken under consideration: foraging possibilities limitation and potential collisions of flying birds with wind turbines. Because of that there are some law solutions that oblige investors to study bird densities and distribution on the planned wind farm location.
An example of such studies performed at the Polish Baltic coast could be presented. The study was based on 15 ship-cruises made from early autumn 2003 to late spring 2004 and in autumn 2004. An area of around 16 km2 was monitored according to the standard methods. Altogether 11 000 birds were observed and around 93% of individuals were sea ducks – the Long-tailed Duck and Velvet Scoter. Numbers and distribution of birds fluctuated much between controls, but still their distribution could be roughly estimated giving some information on the better and worse wind farm locations. Surprisingly low number of migrating marine birds was found in the studied area.

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