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For a new research project, seven wind turbines in Eemshaven, the Netherlands, will have one of the turbine blades painted black. The purpose is to investigate if the method can contribute to reducing the risk of birds getting injured by colliding with the turbine blades.
The study has already started and is expected to run until the end of 2024. This year, a baseline measurement will be taken. Next year, the blades will be painted, and for two years, the turbines will be monitored to see whether that has an impact on the number of bird collisions.
In addition, aviation safety and the impact of the painted blades on the landscape will be examined. A study financed by Vattenfall and a group of Norwegian partners on the island of Smøla in Norway has already examined the effect of black wind turbine blades. According to the findings of that study, painting one blade resulted in 70% fewer bird collisions.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, is home to other bird species, and the landscape, as well as the weather, is very different from that of Norway.
One point of discussion in the Norwegian study was that black blades are more conspicuous, not only to birds but to humans too. The question was whether the surrounding area would be affected by the visual effect. Compared to the weather in Norway, in the Netherlands, there are more often clear, blue skies. The light setting on the turbines is therefore different, but it is still difficult to estimate how noticeable the black blades will be in the Dutch landscape.
It will also be important to gain more knowledge about the practical and financial aspects of the black blade measure in a Dutch context. Will the black paint affect the durability and, as a result, the maintenance needs for the blades? The study at Eemshaven will be considering this as well.
Vattenfall is participating in the black turbine blade pilot project together with a number of energy companies and Dutch public authorities such as Groningen Province. The wind farm in Eemshaven is owned by RWE.
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