Novel computational framework seeks insight into eagle flight at wind plants

Read the full story from the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Golden eagles strike a cutting visage that, to put it mildly, grants the species an aura of regality. Occupying much of the Northern Hemisphere, many cultures view this species as a sacred messenger of the gods and kings and queens of the sky.

Not only are these birds highly revered, but highly protected—receiving protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As a result, their presence must be carefully considered by wind power plant operators and developers working in eagle territory, presenting challenges that can extend permitting timelines, add unanticipated project costs, and constrain energy output.

To address these challenges, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists along with fellow researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, Western EcoSystems Inc., and Conservation Science Global Inc. are developing a state-of-the-art computational framework for modeling golden eagle behavior near wind farms. In all hopes, this tool can help guide wind power plant siting decisions and dynamic curtailment strategies informed by real-time eagle flight path prediction.

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