The Risk of Renewables

Bonn, 13 October 2017 - Results from the first global scientific review of the impacts of wind farms on bird and bat populations could help guide the design and location of such facilities to reduce animal mortality from collisions.

The study, published in September 2017, related collision rate to species-level traits and turbine characteristics to measure the potential vulnerability of 9,538 bird and 888 bat species globally.

The researchers found that migratory birds were particularly vulnerable to collisions, and that 31 of the 55 birds considered ‘threatened’ by wind farms were birds of prey. Species of bat, that dispersed further, on average, had a higher risk of collision than those that did not. Collision rates were predicted to be higher for bats than for birds.

It is essential that we consider the impacts of wind farms on populations of both bats and birds, especially migrants and wide-ranging species,the authors said.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals call for access to affordable energy as well as action to combat climate change, yet they also call for ecosystems to be protected and for a halt in biodiversity loss. With demand for renewable energy growing, it is important that the sector works in tandem with conservationists to ensure that the plight of vulnerable species is not sidelined. Wind farms and hydroelectric dams as well as transmission lines are of particular concern, affecting avian, terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) has developed guidelines for planners and power companies to reduce the impact of renewables and created an Energy Task Force to work with governments, multilateral environmental agreements, investors, academic and Non-Governmental Organizations to support their implementation.

At COP 12 in the Philippines, CMS will forward an updated resolution on renewable energy and migratory species with a call for Parties to implement the guidelines. It also urges commitments on:

  1. wind energy: to undertake careful physical planning with special attention to the mortality of birds (in particular of species that are long-lived and have low fecundity) and bats resulting from collisions with wind turbines and the increased mortality risk to whales, dolphins and porpoises from permanently reduced auditory functions due to noise generated by the construction and operation of wind farms. In addition, to consider means of reducing disturbance and displacement effects on relevant species, including deploying measures such as ‘shutdown on demand’ as appropriate;
  2. solar energy: to avoid protected areas so as to limit further the impacts of deploying solar power plants; undertake careful planning to reduce disturbance and displacement effects on relevant species, as well as to minimize the risks of solar flux and trauma related injuries which could be a consequence of a number of solar energy technologies;
  3. ocean energy: to give attention to possible impacts on migratory species of increased noise and electromagnetic field disturbance especially during construction work in coastal habitats, and injury;
  4. hydro-power: to undertake measures to reduce or mitigate known serious impacts on the movements of migratory aquatic species, such as through the installation of measures such as fish passageways; and
  5. geo-energy: to avoid habitat loss, disturbance and barrier effects in order to continue to keep the overall environmental impacts at their current low level.

View here the full resolution on renewable energies.


For interviews or to speak to an expert, please contact:

Florian Keil, Coordinator of the Joint Communications Team at the UNEP/CMS and UNEP/AEWA Secretariats
Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152451

Veronika Lenarz, Public Information, UNEP/CMS Secretariat
Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152409
Email: [email protected]

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Last updated on 13 October 2017

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