Groningen province and RWE test black turbine blade in Eemshaven

The province of Groningen and energy company RWE are having one blade on each of seven wind turbines in the onshore wind farm Eemshaven painted black. Research will show whether this can reduce the bird mortality rate. They are doing this in cooperation with other authorities and private parties. The results of the research are expected in three years’ time.

Earlier research in Norway, on the island of Smøla, showed that painting one blade of a wind turbine black resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in the number of bird victims. Experiments have shown that painting a blade black makes it easier for birds to see the blade. This has to do with the way birds perceive the moving rotor of a wind turbine. When the blades are turning quickly, birds see the three individual blades as one blurry disc and think it is a safe area to fly through. Painting one blade black breaks the pattern and makes the image of the three blades blend together less quickly.

Research needed

The positive results with the black blade in Norway have also led to widespread interest in this measure in the Netherlands. Before this technique can be used on a large scale in the Netherlands, research must first be conducted into the effects of a black blade in the conditions in the Netherlands. Some of the bird species found in the Netherlands are different. In addition, the landscape is very different from that in Norway and, for example, night-time bird migration at the height of the blades also plays an important role in bird mortality. More knowledge is also needed about the practical and financial feasibility of the black blade.

The research consists of three parts: research into victims, research into aviation safety and research into the landscape. The study has already started and is expected to run until the end of 2024. If the black blade also works here, this would be an attractive option: fewer victims at low, one-off costs, without loss of yield, according to the initiators.

Initiators

The black blade study is an initiative of RWE and Groningen province in collaboration with other government bodies (the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, the provinces of Flevoland, Gelderland, Overijssel, Limburg, Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant), the nature sector (the Dutch bird protection association) and private parties in the wind sector (Eneco, Vattenfall, Pure Energie, Statkraft and Groningen.nl Energy). The total cost is € 600,000, of which the government is financing € 400,000 and the private parties € 200,000. Source: Province of Groningen

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