ZwijndrechtWhile energy prices are rising, two brand-new wind turbines at dredging company DEME’s sites have been out of business for four months. Reason: The spoon beak died after the bird flew into the wings. Because they are a protected species, windmills are no longer allowed to operate during the migration season.
The wind turbines were ceremonially opened only in June last year And it’s still brand new. Due to its proximity to Deurne Airport, its tip height is a little less than 150 meters, but this is compensated by the good location along the Scheldt: for example, both provide 3.5 megawatts. The wind turbines must ensure that the dredging company DEME can achieve its ambition to become climate neutral.
However, the company will have to put this ambition aside for some time, because in recent months DEME has had to buy much more expensive electricity from the grid. The turbines were up for four months. Operator Wind aan de Stroom explains why: “Due to the proximity of a number of nature reserves such as Groot Rietveld, a number of restrictive clauses are included in this permit,” CEO Giovanni Verkamen says. “Unfortunately, these conditions came into play after the spoon beak flew into the blades shortly after opening.”
The spoon beak is a protected species, so the Nature and Forestry Agency has imposed a number of restrictions. During the migration season, windmills are not allowed to operate during the day. “Obviously this is difficult for us financially, and as a result the profitability of the turbines is at risk,” Verkammen admits. “It also has consequences for DEME, because the company now has to get electricity from the grid at much higher rates.”
In Wind aan de Stroom, they hope this is an “unlucky bird”. “Migration of spoonbills has been closely monitored in recent months and we will soon meet with the Nature and Forestry Agency to discuss the findings,” Verkamin continues. We are crossing our fingers and hope the restrictions will be lifted next year. We have a total of 29 wind turbines and have been operating for seven years. This is the first time a protected bird species has fallen victim. By the way, it is rare for a bird to fly against the wings. The accident happened here right after the windmills were installed.”
If the Nature and Forestry Agency does not allow relaxation, technological intervention is required. In the meantime, we are already looking over the wall at our northern neighbors. There they had a similar accident with a bald eagle at Krammer Wind Farm in Zeeland, and a detection system consisting of cameras is now being used in conjunction with artificial intelligence. The birds have already been spotted from a distance of one kilometer and their trajectory has been calculated. If a danger threatens, the mill ceases to be in control. A slightly cheaper alternative might be a sound system where birds are frightened by making a sound.”
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