Wind turbines unlikely to cause fatal barotrauma in bats

For years scientists have speculated that the unexpected number of bat fatalities around wind farms is the result of barotrauma-related injuries. Baerwald et al (2008) published a paper entitled ‘Barotrauma is a significant cause of bat fatalities at wind turbines‘ In this paper it was noted that “Air pressure change at turbine blades is an undetectable hazard and helps explain high bat fatality rates“. An article in the Telegraph newspaper also sensationally said that “Wind turbines may be killing bats by ‘exploding’ their lungs”. The barotrauma hypothesis suggests that a significant number of bat fatalities are due to internal bleeding caused by rapid changes in atmospheric pressure around operating wind turbine blades.

ECOFACT are bat experts - contact us at +353 61 419477
ECOFACT are bat experts – contact us at +353 61 419477

But according to a recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study that was presented at the ninth biennial Wind Wildlife Research Meeting in Denver, Colorado, November 27-30, 2012, it appears unlikely that the pressure changes around operating wind turbine blades are large enough to cause fatal barotrauma. The NREL has been engaged in research related to wildlife impacts from wind energy development since the early 1990s.

Read more at NREL Study Finds Barotrauma Not Guilty which concluded that “Considering that the pressure changes around wind turbine blades at low wind speeds are insignificant and that there are few bat deaths at higher wind speeds, it seems unlikely that barotrauma is a significant cause of bat fatalities around wind turbines, and that the vast majority of bat fatalities are a result of blade strikes“.

We are experts in providing bat surveys and bat impact assessments for proposed wind energy developments. If you need a bat survey please do not hesitate to contact us at +353 61 419477.

One thought

  1. You forgot to mention that the NREL study used MICE, not bats, because “no data exists for bats”. So, whereas you can take a lab mouse and deliberately explode their lungs for the “data”, you cannot do that with bats, because they are protected.

    So, in other words, because the pressures involved don’t kill MICE, we are supposed to take it on trust from a vested interest that it also won’t kill BATS, despite the fact that most dead bats show no injuries other than haemorrhaging in the lungs.

    How do you guys live with yourselves? The corruption of science for money.

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