By Derek Markham, TreeHugger
Right now, researchers are exploring new solutions to reducing bat deaths at large wind farms, but with the rising number of small wind turbine installations for residential and urban areas, bats may lose more valuable habitat.
A research study by Dr Jeroen Minderman, of the University of Stirling, is the first study to examine the impacts on local wildlife activity from small wind turbine installations, and the results suggest that the microturbines could significantly decrease bat habitat in their immediate area.
“Previous studies have shown that birds and bats can be killed by colliding with large turbine blades or that wildlife may avoid the surrounding environment, leading to effective habitat loss. To date, studies have focused solely on large-scale wind farms. We therefore felt it vital to address this knowledge gap by determining whether such effects are also applicable to small wind turbines, to improve planning guidance and deter badly-sited turbines in the future.” – Minderman
The results of the study showed that bird activity was not significantly affected by the turbines, but that bat activity was 54% lower near operating units. The authors recommended that wind turbines be kept at least 20 meters away from important bat habitat, and hope that their findings can help guide future installation guidelines.