World-first bird study at Aberdeen offshore wind farm
3D radar technology is being used to study the behaviour of sea birds around an offshore wind farm in the north-east.
The research at the Aberdeen offshore wind farm – officially known as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) – will monitor the flight patterns and responses of gannet, kittiwake and large gulls flying during the summer breeding season.
The ground-breaking study, believed to be a world-first, began this week after Vattenfall, the Swedish energy group which owns the test and demonstration facility, appointed a Scottish specialist to carry out the bird studies.
The Edinburgh-based team of RPS and Danish-based DHI Group are using state-of-the-art radar-camera based digital technology, as RPS technical director Mike Armitage explains.
“The high-performance radar system, communicating digitally with long-range pan-tilt cameras installed at the base of the turbine, will collect three-dimensional radar tracks as well as video footage of birds moving through the wind farm," he said.
"This cutting-edge technology ensures that specific species, flight height as well as their individual and group behaviour can be identified throughout the wind farm during its operation.”
The study was selected in collaboration with an expert panel of key stakeholders including RSPB Scotland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. It is being funded by the EOWDC's €3 million scientific research and monitoring programme.
Chris Jackson, senior environmental specialist at Vattenfall, said: “The evidence gathered by this research will help decision makers to support the sustainable growth of the offshore wind industry, which is particularly important at a time when the sector is readying itself for rapid expansion.”