Vattenfall launches expanded trial for bird-tracking technology

Sept. 18, 2023
Four cameras with AI technology deployed on offshore wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen.

Offshore staff

SOLNA, Sweden – A new collaborative innovation project tracking seabirds with AI technology has started at Vattenfall’s offshore wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Working with Spoor, a Norwegian pioneering AI start-up, the project will trial new technology to document how seabirds interact with offshore wind turbines. The project is a collaboration between Vattenfall, Spoor and the British Trust for Ornithology.

Using the latest AI technology, the project will record the 3D flight behavior of seabirds in the immediate vicinity of the turbine blades of Vattenfall’s offshore wind farm, off the coast of Aberdeen. Four cameras have been installed and have started collecting data, with the trial expected to conclude and findings announced in June 2024. 

Spoor’s AI technology is said to have been developed to track a bird’s 3D flight path throughout a wind farm and in the immediate vicinity of the turbine blades, providing insights on bird flight patterns and behavior, as well as potentially detecting collisions. 

Being able to document avoidance behavior accurately is vital for providing more realistic collision-risk modeling. The information and data can then be used as a basis for establishing collision rates more directly, which will help in the planning of new offshore wind farms. 

This new trial follows on from Vattenfall’s previous research project using a combination of radar and camera technology, documenting seabird flight behavior at a larger scale around the turbines. 

A stakeholder advisory panel has been formed to provide advice and input during the course of the project, including experts from the RSPB, Marine Scotland Science, NatureScot, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. 

The companies say that progress has already been made with significant data on seabird movements coming in and validation trials successfully completed both offshore, with an observer present; and onshore, with a drone. Final results on the project are expected early next summer.