Canadian Consulting Engineer

Wind farms grow, but bats are problem

The province of Manitoba has announced it will be issuing a request for proposals to develop 300 megawatts in wind ...

September 13, 2006   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The province of Manitoba has announced it will be issuing a request for proposals to develop 300 megawatts in wind power this winter. Construction of the projects is expected to begin as early as 2007. Further allocations of 200 megawatts each are targeted for 2013-2014, 2015-2016 and 2017-18 “based on economic viability.”
Manitoba already has a 99-megawatt wind farm with 63 turbines at St. Leon, which is in full operation. The site of 63 turbines with the wingspan of a 747 aircraft has become a tourism hotspot. Next month Winnipeg will host the Canadian Wind Energy Association Conference on October 22-25.
Meanwhile wind farm developers are facing a problem with migrating bats that are hitting the blades. In Alberta researchers at the University of Calgary are trying to find out why hundreds of bats are dying at the Pincher Creek wind farm in that province. Last year more than 500 bats were found dead. The problem seems to particularly affect the hoary and silver-haired bats that migrate from Canada to the U.S. in the fall. The bats’ sonar guidance does not seem to help them in avoiding the blades. One theory is that the bats don’t use their sonar when they migrate.
Bats have been living on the earth for over 50 million years. There are 900 species and they are the second largest group of mammals (rodents are the first). They need sonar to fly at night, but can see during daylight. The flying animals play a critical role in the ecosystem by eating their body weight in insects every day.


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