- 20th October 2010
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One of the more unfortunate side-effects of the increased use of wind turbines across the country in order to produce renewable energy has been incidents involving birds and bats in the vicinity of the turbines. Until now, there has been little or no explanation as to why this might be occurring, or how to solve the problem, but a team of researchers at Loughborough University think they have found the answer – the white colour of the turbines.
While this seems to be a remarkably simple explanation, the scientists think that the fact that most turbines are painted either pure white or light grey is attracting migrating insects towards them. This leads to those species which feed on the insects (insectivorous birds and mammals) to forage in the vicinity, and as they pursue their prey, occasionally they fly into the path of the turbines.
PhD student Chloe Long and her Loughborough colleagues, Dr James Flint and Dr Paul Lepper, conducted the first empirical study of insect attraction to wind turbines, the results of which are published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research. The study was conducted by laying coloured cards in a random sequence next to a 13m-tall wind turbine, and recording how the insect were attracted to each colour, reports the BBC website.
The most attractive paint colour was found to be yellow, followed by white and light grey. The least attractive colour to the insects was purple, though the researchers stress that this does not mean that all wind turbines should immediately be painted aubergine. Other factors that may attract insects, bats and birds to the turbines include the heat generated as they turn and problems for bats in detecting the blades with echolocation.