Texas State researchers lead test of pioneering Bat Deterrent System

Sandy Pantlik & Jayme Blaschke | December 13, 2018


Wind Turbine
Wind Turbine

Texas State University researchers, in partnership with Bat Conservation International (BCI), have completed a trial of an ultrasonic acoustic Bat Deterrent System that reduced overall bat fatalities at the Los Vientos Wind Energy Facility in Starr County by 54 percent.

The Bat Deterrent System, from NRG Systems, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of smart technologies for a range of wind, solar and meteorological applications, was installed on 16 of the facility’s 255 turbines. Test results indicate that NRG Systems’ technology is an effective tool for reducing mortality of certain species of bats caused by wind turbines.

"Our results from a robust, two-year study at an operational wind energy facility in Texas indicate NRG’s acoustic deterrents significantly reduce Brazilian free-tailed bat and hoary bat fatalities," said Sara Weaver, a doctoral candidate at Texas State and biology lecturer at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, who led the Los Vientos study. "Based on these results, the technology is a promising tool for reducing bat fatalities at wind turbines."

The Bat Deterrent System is based on "jamming" the echolocation capabilities of bats, which they rely on for orienting, foraging and communication, while causing no harm to wildlife that encounter the treated airspace.

"It is no secret that wind turbines cause mortality to bats. This has become an increasingly critical issue as bat populations across North America continue to decline," said Brogan Morton, senior product manager at NRG Systems. "NRG set out to develop a technology that would allow wind developers and operators to protect bats while creating more energy more of the time. We are incredibly pleased to say that we are well on our way to making this a reality." 

While 2018 marks three years of testing for NRG’s Bat Deterrent System, research around using ultrasonic acoustic deterrents to reduce bat fatalities at wind turbines has been under way for more than a decade. This was led by the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC), an organization that BCI helped launch and continues to coordinate.

"BCI is proud to partner with companies like NRG Systems–entrepreneurs looking to reduce bat fatalities at wind turbine sites," said Mylea Bayless, senior director of network and partnerships at BCI. "We hope that future testing shows continued mortality reduction in additional species and that NRG’s Bat Deterrent System will serve as a highly effective tool for wind developers and operators looking to minimize their impact on bat populations."

NRG’s Bat Deterrent System will be commercially available in 2019.

“Based on these results, the technology is a promising tool for reducing bat fatalities at wind turbines.” – Sara Weaver, Texas State doctoral candidate.

About NRG Systems, Inc.

NRG Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of ESCO Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ESE), revolutionized the way wind resource assessment was done more than 36 years ago. Today, this heritage of innovation drives everything they do. The company is dedicated to designing and manufacturing smart technologies for a more sustainable planet–that means more renewable energy, cleaner air and a safer environment for all. Their measurement systems, turbine control sensors and Lidar remote sensors can be found in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit nrgsystems.com.  

About Bat Conservation International

The mission of Bat Conservation International is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet. BCI works with experts from government agencies, private industry, academic institutions and other NGO’s through the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (batsandwind.org) to develop and disseminate solutions to prevent mortality of bats at wind turbines. For more information, visit batcon.org.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922