- To operate wind farms in harmony with the ecosystem, research is underway to show whether painting a wind turbine blade black helps birds to fly more safely between the turbines.
- Seven of RWE’s existing wind turbines in Eemshaven (Westereems wind farm) will get black blades.
- In addition to the effect on birds, the effect on the landscape and the effect on aviation safety as well as the technical effect on the blades are to be examined.
Essen, 29 September 2022
Katja Wünschel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Onshore Wind and Solar Europe & Australia, RWE Renewables
RWE and the Province of Groningen started the research in 2021, in collaboration with the Dutch government (Ministries of EZK and RWS, Provinces of Flevoland, Gelderland, Overijssel, Limburg, South Holland and North Brabant), the nature sector (bird protection) and private parties in the wind sector (Vattenfall, Eneco Energy, Pure Energy, Statkraft Energy and Groningen.nl Energy). The research will continue until 2024.
Effect of black blades on birds
The painting of the blades started in August and was regularly halted due to weather conditions. Painting the blades is an intensive and time-consuming process. First, the turbine has to be shut down, the suspension bridge installation (in which the painters stand) has to be installed, and then the blades have to be sanded, degreased and painted twice. The painting process takes about three to four days per turbine.
Once the paint is on, it is necessary to find out what effect this has on the blade material. Black paint attracts heat, causing the temperature of the blade to rise and possibly overheat on hot, sunny days. With thermometers installed inside the blades and additional inspections, the impact on the material will be monitored. The impact on preventive maintenance and performance of the turbines will also be checked.
In addition to the technical effect, the study also looks at the impact on the landscape . The question here is how people view a turbine when one of its blades is colored black. Pilots who regularly fly over the area are also being consulted about their experiences in the context of aviation safety.
Images of the black blades for media purposes (image rights: RWE) are available in the media library.