All it takes is a touch of black. By painting a single blade black, the researchers reported that they had reduced bird deaths from wind turbines by more than 70 percent. Researchers believe they have found a way to minimize the chances of this collision death after a small-scale, nine-year study at a small wind farm in Norway.
The study found a significant reduction in bird carcasses compared to the number of birds pictured below painted window turbines and to neighboring turbines that were not painted. They found that although the carcasses on control turbines had increased over the years, those that had been painted had declined. Reporting their discoveries in ecology and evolution, Roll May and colleagues suggest that a painted blade can increase the visibility of spinning turbines and prevent birds from being hit. They found that the painted blades had the greatest impact on the death of the rotor, with no white-tailed eagle carcasses found in the 3.5-year period after painting.
President Trump has even weighed in with bizarre tires against them, calling them “bird graveyards” and falsely claiming that they somehow created “causes of cancer.” But there are pushback’s as well as many attempts to push renewable energy. Some say the turbines have shed tears for the landscape and caused bird damage.
Production of wind turbines increased rapidly in 2019, adding about 60 GW of wind energy capacity over the course of the year. It marked the second-best year for wind power on record, with more turbines likely to be added next year.
Although turbines certainly do not cause cancer, the effects of spinning blades can have an impact on the local avian population although this cannot be said, compared to cell and radio towers, which cause 8.6 million bird deaths each year.
If a small lick of paint can help further reduce the environmental impact of wind turbines, the general remedy is probably more likely to be used.
Why the authors were unsure, noting that bird populations could very easily between seasons but they believe the findings are encouraging enough to warrant further investigation. They added: “It is recommended to repeat this test on other sites to make sure the results are generic in different settings.”
It is noteworthy that this study was based on only four wind turbines, so a larger scale study is needed to confirm these preliminary results. The results showed a significant reduction in bird deaths, with some isolated incidents occurring in which painted rotors increased mortality even in the summer months.