Sea eagle research at Smøla wind farm

17.06.2010 | news

(Oslo, 17 June 2010) Extensive research is being carried out at the Smøla wind farm to prevent sea eagles crashing from flying into wind turbines. So far this year, ten dead sea eagles have been recovered at the wind farm. The sea eagle population on Smøla is, however, robust and has increased since the construction of the wind farm.

Last year, the population was estimated at 65 to 70 pairs, as well as some individual birds, or about 150 sea eagles in total. Nationwide, the sea eagle population is estimated at between 3200 and 3800 pairs, according to the Climate and Pollution Agency. Norway may be home to as many as 10 000 sea eagles, invouding individual birds.

“The Smøla sea eagle population has grown steadily since 1997. Last summer, we registered activity in 61 sea eagle territories on the main island and adjacent islets. This is the highest number on record. There is very little nesting inside the actual wind farm area, but the sea eagle reproduction on Smøla is generally increasing,” says senior researcher Kjetil Bevanger at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).

Since the completion of the second construction phase in 2005, 38 dead sea eagles have been recovered at the Smøla wind farm - an average of about six eagles every year.

Statkraft takes these deaths very seriously, and has contributed significant research funds in recent years to map and attempt to limit the problem, not least during the development of future wind farms in Norway and abroad. The research programme is headed by NINA, and also includes experts from Sintef, as well as research communities in Denmark and England – countries with a large number of operating wind farms.

The programme includes the following:

  • Radar and video monitoring of eagles’ flight paths in the wind farm
  • Monitoring of individual birds using GPS transmitters
  • Regular searches with dogs to recover dead birds at an early stage
  • Accurate mapping of the development of the Smøla population
  • Assessments of measures which may help eagles discover the wind turbines early

The research programme will run until 2011, and has a cost frame of NOK 22.5 million. The programme is financed by the Research Council of Norway. Statkraft, the Directorate for Nature Management, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate and Energy Norway. The results will be presented at an international conference in Trondheim in May 2011.

For further information, please contact:
Tormod Schei, senior environment adviser, mobile +47 48 05 33 88
Aslak Øverås, communications adviser, mobile +47 90 08 60 20