Radar Prevents Offshore Wind Farm Bird and Bat Crashes

Ecowende is Working to Build the World's Most Ecological Offshore Wind Farm
The floating radar prevents birds and bats from colliding with the turbine blades of offshore wind farms allows these facilities to be more eco friendly

A Netherlands technology leader has pioneered a floating radar that prevents birds and bats from colliding with the turbine blades of offshore wind farms, revolutionising the maintenance and environmental consciousness of these facilities in the North Sea and beyond.

When large numbers of birds approach the wind farm Ecowende 53 kilometres off the Dutch coast — which is set to be operational by 2026 — wind turbines can be shut or slowed down automatically on demand for a while thanks to Robin Radar Systems’ technology.

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They were commissioned by the developers behind Ecowende's latest project — Shell, Eneco and Chubu — to supply an alert system, combining a radar, a camera, sensors and AI software to prevent bird mortality by collision.

As Sibylle Giraud, VP Wind, Environmental and Civil aviation practices at Robin Radar Systems, explains: “During high peaks of bird migration they can shut down the turbine in real-time. These tools allow operators to find the right balance between maximising the energy production of the wind farm and at the same time minimising the risk of collision with birds or bats.” 

Why Robin Radar Systems’ technology is changing the game

Robin Radar Systems' Floating Radar which Detects Birds and Bats near Offshore Wind Farms

There is an urgent need to mitigate impact as the importance of wind farms — offshore particularly — continues to grow. This is because of ever-increasing demand for electricity, especially the clean, green, renewable kind. Offshore wind has surged in popularity due to the abundance of wind power offshore, with the North Sea a hot spot for this kind of infrastructure. An abundance of projects have been set up in this area by the British, Germans, Belgians, Norwegians, Dutch and Danish — the latter of whom pioneered the first offshore wind farm in 1991.

In the more than 30 years since, the rate of wind farm erection has grown exponentially. In the Dutch part of the North Sea alone, a total capacity of 4.7GW of offshore wind farms were operational as of the end of 2023.

“The exponential growth of wind farming in The Netherlands is huge,” Sibylle added. “The amount of investments is unseen in Europe and worldwide.”

Sibylle Giraud, VP Wind, Environmental and Civil aviation practices at Robin Radar Systems

For this reason there is an urgent need to mitigate the impact of wind farms on birds and bats and avoid death by collision. That includes monitoring and shutdowns if birds or bats are approaching the turbine blades

She continued: “There is a high risk of collision. Many birds migrate at night, have no visibility and fly at the level of the turbines.”

Ecowende Wind Farm

With an installed capacity of approximately 760MW, it is anticipated that once in operation, Ecowende Wind Farm — officially  Hollandse Kust (West) VI — will ‘green’ approximately 3% of the current Dutch electricity demand. 

The approach to the project has sustainability at heart, moving forward to ensure its impact is not negative to the North Sea’s ecology. It is inspired by its ambition of building the most ecological wind farm yet. 

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