Bird protection system using radar images is a global first
At the Maasvlakte 2 wind park near Rotterdam, a bird radar by the company Robin Radar was taken into use in March. The radar combines with a platform developed by Conclusion for Eneco to protect wild birds in the area. By collecting radar data around the wind park, the wind turbines can automatically shut down when flocks of birds are near. This enables Eneco to drastically reduce the number of bird casualties caused by collisions with the turbines, contributing positively to biodiversity.
In the area of Maasvlakte 2 wind park, which Eneco developed based on a commission by Rijkswaterstaat (an executive agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management -eds.), the radar is used to limit collisions between birds and the wind turbines. The wind park uses the radar to detect birds, including large flocks of migratory birds and local species. If they approach the wind park too closely, the wind turbines are stopped automatically.
Marin van Regteren, Marine Ecologist at Eneco, explained: “The 3D bird radar continually registers the flight movements of birds on the north end of the wind park. The data is then processed by Conclusion's IoT platform, which will transmit signals to pause individual turbines or the entire wind park as needed. The platform also contains a decision-making module based on location-specific rules and threshold values to stop a turbine. When the bird radar measurements exceed these thresholds – e.g. a certain number of birds is detected at rotor height – the decision-making module will signal to stop one or several wind turbines.”
By defining the downtime thresholds and rules in units that can be measured by the radar, the IoT solution can test whether the downtime conditions are met. Marin continued: “This logic is also linked to weather data, so that wind turbines are only stopped when threshold levels are crossed in certain pre-defined conditions. For example, there aren't many birds out there when it's raining, so the turbines don't have as much of an impact on the wildlife. The system works for both migratory birds and local breeding birds.”
Active bird protection in wind parks is a world first
Radar-powered bird detection systems are rare, and the use of radar images to protect birds around wind turbines is a world first. There are no standard protocols yet for controlling the wind turbines. The decision to stop a turbine will be informed by real-time predictions of flight movements, but also by estimations of the stability of the electricity network in the Netherlands. The radar additionally collects data on the migratory patterns of birds, so that these can be anticipated in the planning of energy production by the wind turbines.
Marin van Regteren: “Limiting the potential negative impact on local birds and migratory birds was one of the requirements set by Rijkswaterstaat when they granted the permit to build the Maasvlakte 2 wind park. Major bird migrations take place near the Dutch coast every spring and fall. With Maasvlakte 2, we are taking an important step to reduce the impact on birds as well as to do excellent research.”
Standard components enable rapid realisation
Peter Dreschler, Change Lead IoT at Eneco: “The impressive thing is that we were able to realise this provision quite quickly with existing components. We already have the capacity to rapidly process external data, such as radar data. We also already have a decision module that tells us when to shut down certain wind turbines based on data, and on top of that we also have a real-time connection to the wind parks to switch turbines on and off in the interest of curtailment (managing the output for the grid). So all the ingredients were already there – all we had to do was to intelligently combine the available building blocks.”
Usable for new parks
Multiple additional wind parks will be added in the Netherlands in the coming years. The wind in the North Sea area is an attractive source of sustainable energy. The bird radar helps us ensure that sustainable energy doesn't come at the cost of ecology. The lessons learned from the first implementation at Maasvlakte 2 will be used to develop a standard solution for other existing and new parks.
Real-time data processing at the heart of decisions
Frank Schutrops, IoT Architect at AMIS Conclusion, said: “It is also in the ecological interest to have timely access to accurate data that allows us to make well-considered decisions. Our platform facilitates real-time data processing and can take automated decisions for individual turbines within seconds. This enables us to offer optimal protection to birds, without making significant concessions to electricity production for the Netherlands. It is a valuable addition to the existing IoT platform, which has already demonstrated a significant positive impact.”
Combining data opens up endless possibilities
Peter Dreschler said: “The bird protection system demonstrates our ability to realise new applications quickly with the available data and IoT links: even applications that we could not previously have imagined, like this ecological protection system. Thanks to the practical, component-based architecture realised by AMIS Conclusion and Conclusion Mission Critical, these kinds of concepts are now well within the realm of possibility. We are already looking at new opportunities – the possibilities are endless.”