Wind turbines kill millions of bats that fly into their blades every year.
But technology jointly developed by Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa transmits ultrasonic signals and lights which could divert them to fly at a higher altitude, outside the danger zone.
Researchers who tested the solution in a new study compared the bats’ normal activity to their activity in the presence of a drone carrying the deterrent device.
Bat activity decreased by about 40 per cent when the drone was operated at 100 meters – the height of an average turbine – but increased at higher altitudes where the bats were beyond the reach of the blades.
The researchers believe that if the device is activated near a turbine, it will lead the bats to fly over it and out of harm’s way. The solution is effective, easily-implemented, and reasonably priced.
“Wind turbines are considered a promising technology in the field of renewable energy, but their operation involves a variety of biological challenges,” said Prof Yossi Yovel, faculty member of TAU’s School of Zoology, who supervised the tests.
“Today, the only solution to prevent the death of bats is to stop turbine activity at times when the bats are expected to be particularly active. But such interruptions reduce the turbines’ efficiency and the amount of energy they can produce.
“The advantage of the drone is that it is in constant motion and transmits a combination of visual and acoustic signals designed specifically for bats, warning them of danger. When signals are stationary and constant, animals tend to get used to them and eventually ignore them.”
The study was published in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation.