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Bats are remarkable creatures. They are mammals that fly, navigate with uncanny precision using sonar, and keep the bug population in check by eating their body weight in insects each night. Bats are some of the most helpful and fascinating animals found in the wild, which is why the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is serious about finding ways to keep them safe.
EERE’s Wind Program supports environmentally sustainable development of wind power in the United States and invests in projects that seek to understand and mitigate the impacts of wind energy on wildlife both on land and offshore. Last year, DOE awarded $1.75 million to five separate projects to support the development and testing of deterrent technologies to reduce the interactions between wind farms and sensitive bat species.
The program also facilitates interagency cooperation on wind energy impacts and siting research; these partnerships make effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars and the environment possible. The program has funded peer-reviewed research for more than 15 years, in part through collaborations with the wind industry and environmental organizations, such as the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC). Since its formation in 2003, BWEC has been engaged in numerous research activities funded by EERE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, including studies assessing the impact of altering the cut-in speed of wind turbines (the minimum wind speed at which wind turbines begin producing power), and the use of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents aimed at reducing bat activity near wind turbines. All of these aligned efforts ensure that we’re moving forward to a clean energy future with fewer and fewer impacts to our ecosystem.
This Sunday, April 17, is National Bat Appreciation Day. At DOE, we appreciate our unique flying friends, and look for ways to protect these amazing animals each and every day.