Vattenfall is to paint one of the blades of seven wind turbines black at a Dutch wind farm to see if this can reduce bird strikes.
Research in Norway funded by the Swedish developer found that black blades can reduce the number of bird collisions by 70%.
Vattenfall is now investigating whether Dutch birds follow the same behavior and whether dark colored wind turbine blades would be accepted by the public in the Netherlands.
The study in a wind farm in Eemshaven has already started and is expected to last until the end of 2024.
This year, a baseline measurement will be made.
Next year the blades will be painted and for two years the turbines will be monitored if this has an impact on the number of bird strikes.
Additionally, aviation safety and the impact of painted blades on the landscape will be examined.
The Norwegian study on the island of Smøla in Norway showed that painting a blade resulted in 70% fewer collisions.
Vattenfall environmental expert Jesper Kyed Larsen said: “It has to do with how birds perceive the moving rotor of a wind turbine.
“When a bird approaches the rotating blades, the three individual blades may ‘merge’ into a smear and the birds may no longer perceive it as an object to be avoided.
“A black blade interrupts the pattern, making it less likely that the blades will blend into a single image.”
However, the Netherlands is home to other bird species and the landscape is very different from Norway, as are the weather conditions.
Jesper Kyed Larsen added: “We are constantly looking for ways to reduce the impact of wind turbines on the environment, and so we are very pleased to be part of this study in Eemshaven to better understand the potentials of blade measurement. black in a Dutch country. the context.
“If we could find other ways to reduce the risk of bird strikes than temporarily shutting down the turbines and losing renewable energy production, that would of course be better for everyone.”
A talking point in the Norwegian study was that black blades are more visible, not only to birds but also to humans.
The question was whether the surrounding area would be affected by the visual effect.
Another Vattenfall environmental expert, Bjarke Laubek, said: “The west coast of Norway is not known for blue skies and sunshine.
“On the contrary, it often has gray and rainy weather or days with a mixed cover of often fast-moving clouds giving very uneven illumination of the landscape and the turbines therein.
“The black blades therefore hardly stood out in the landscape, any more than the gray blades in any case.
“The locals didn’t seem too bothered by this, so the black-painted blades were allowed to stay until the end of their lifespan instead of the duration of the research project.
“In the Netherlands we have clear blue skies more often than in Norway.
“The setting of the light on the wind turbines is therefore different, but it is still difficult to estimate how noticeable the black blades will be in a Dutch landscape.”
It will also be important to gain more knowledge about the practical and financial aspects of measuring black blade in a Dutch context.
Will the black paint affect the durability and therefore the maintenance needs of the blades? The Eemshaven study will also take this into account.
Vattenfall is participating in the black turbine blade pilot project with a number of energy companies and Dutch public authorities such as the province of Groningen.
The Eemshaven wind farm is owned by RWE.
In 2020, Vattenfall completed an extensive research project on bird behavior near wind turbines in northern Jutland in Denmark.
Kyed Larsen said: “Research showed that the birds studied were much better at avoiding collisions with wind turbines than expected.
“Well over 99% of the pink-legged geese and cranes flying in the area were able to avoid the turbine blades.”