Purple Wind Turbines Could Protect Winged Wildlife

New research shows that the wind turbines’ color could be the key to avoiding wildlife deaths.

Conservationists’ biggest criticism of wind turbines placed in natural areas is that the swirling blades can be deadly for birds, bats, and bugs with whom they share the air space. Vertical wind turbines have been suggested as a more nature-friendly solution, but are still better suited to small applications than commercial energy production.

Now a new study published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research has found that a wind turbine’s color can impact how many insects it attracts, a finding that could help reduce the number of birds and bats that become entangled in the blades while searching for their dinner.

While most wind turbines are painted pure white or light gray, in an attempt to blend in with the surrounding landscape, the researchers found that these colors are the most likely to be ignored by flying insects.

The experiment measured how many insects were attracted to a range painted cards in a meadow near a 13 meter-high three-blade wind turbine, including pure white, light and dark gray, sky blue, red and purple.

The yellow card attracted the most insects, followed closely by pure white and light gray. Purple was the color that attracted the least amount of insects. The researchers also found that the ultraviolet and infrared components of paint color, which humans cannot see but insects can, also had a significant impact, with higher levels of both attracting more insects (BBC).

While the researchers agreed that painting all wind turbines purple might not be the best solution to this problem, they said the study implies that manufacturers should take color into account when planning future designs.

Article by Beth Buczynski, appearing courtesy Crisp Green.

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