The Netherlands claims an international first as North Sea offshore wind farms are decommissioned to protect migratory birds


Wind turbines in the North Sea, off the coast of the Netherlands. As more and more wind farms develop, the interaction between wind turbines and birds will become an increasingly important problem.

Micha Keijser | Source of images | Getty Images

Offshore wind farms in the North Sea have recently been “closed” in a bid to protect migrating birds and provide them with safe passage, in a move described as an “international first” by a Dutch minister.

Offshore wind farms near Borssele and Egmond aan Zee were cut off at a maximum of just two rotations per minute on May 13, according to Dutch authorities. The four-hour shutdown is part of a pilot initiative.

“This is an international first, nowhere in the world are offshore wind farms closed to protect birds during mass bird migrations,” said Rob Jetten, Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy, in a press release translated by Google. statement released on Monday.

“We want to reduce the impact of wind farms on nature as much as possible and we are doing that with this measure, among others,” added Jetten.

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In the same statement, the Dutch government said it expected wind farms to be “closed more often” from this autumn, to provide safe passage for migrating birds flying over the North Sea.

The initiative uses a number of tools to determine when turbine power should be reduced, including a model developed by a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam and input from bird migration experts. Both provide forecasts of when and where the birds will be, two days in advance.

“The two-day deadline gives the TenneT grid operator time to ensure the stability of the high-voltage grid,” the authorities said. “This time is also used to inform all parties involved and to carefully initiate shutdown of the turbines.”

The news represents the latest example of how the interaction between wind turbines and wildlife will become increasingly important in the years to come.

Earlier this year it was announced that plans for an onshore wind farm in Scotland had been revised, following a number of concerns including the project’s impact on golden eagles.

The Brussels industry body WindEurope states that the effects of the projects can be avoided “by properly planning, siting and designing wind farms.”

“The impact of wind farms on birds and bats is extremely small compared to the impact of climate change and other human activities,” he adds.

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