A new kind of wind turbine that’s specifically designed to protect birds and bats from its blades, just got a permit for a real-world test at California’s Altamont Pass Wind Resources Area.
Ogin Inc will replace 73 conventional turbines with 40 "shrouded" turbines in an area notorious for collisions – about 4300 birds killed each year. Its impact on four raptor species will be closely observed – golden eagle, burrowing owl, American kestrel and red-tailed hawk, reports Costa Contra Times. Altamont Pass lies on a major migratory route and is an important breeding area.
If the study proves the turbines are safer, Ogin will install 330 more.
"In order to gain acceptance of expanded wind energy … we need innovative solutions," Peter Pawlowski, Director of Business Development, told Costa Contra.
Nearby Tehachapi Pass – the world’s oldest wind farm – is in the midst of re-powering – replacing 2400 of the original 4000 turbines with just 100, 2.3 MW turbines, each 430-feet tall, higher than a redwood. The rest are being shut down. Besides the increase in efficiency, the new layout of the wind farm is also designed to reduce collisions.
Other new turbine designs under development are Altaeros Energies’s helium-filled, airborne turbine and Makani Power’s winged turbine, which looks like an airplane.