Do onshore wind turbines pose a threat to birds?

Well-sited wind farms have limited effects on birds. Onshore wind farms can pose potential risks to birds, but Ørsted does in-depth environmental assessments before building any new wind farms and uses cutting-edge technology to better understand the interaction between birds and turbines so that wind farms can be optimally sited.


Do onshore wind turbines pose a threat to birds?



Well-sited wind farms have limited effects on birds. To find out more about how turbines impact birds, we do extensive multi-year environmental surveys before we develop new wind farm sites. We have also started deploying new innovative technology to gather more and better bird life data at our windfarms.

Climate change the biggest threat

While wind turbines can present potential risks to birds, climate change, which threatens many species with extinction, poses a far greater threat.

One in five of Europe’s bird species are at risk of extinction due to a combination of factors, including habitat loss and climate change, according to a 2021 analysis by BirdLife International.1

The transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is one of the biggest steps we can take to limit these changes – but we must do it right, in balance with nature.

Why we study environmental impact assessments 

That means doing everything we can to study, analyse and better understand the habitat and activity of birds at a site ahead of any potential project. 

Wind farms can present three potential risks to birds: Collision or interaction with turbine blades, habitat loss through wind farm construction and operation or displacement of migratory routes.   

Through close collaboration between governments, conservation agencies, and renewable energy developers, rigorous guidelines have been set for bird surveys to look for those potential risks at proposed wind farm sites.

In Ireland that means adherence to a set of standards for bird survey methods established by Scottish Natural Heritage. 2

As a result, before we even apply for planning permission for a new wind farm in Ireland, we undertake two-year bird surveys of the proposed site as an essential part of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report. 

The comprehensive study of the site observes breeding and wintering seasons and helps identify potential protected species and flight paths. 

The surveys inform the spatial planning and design of the potential project, with a particular focus on making sure wind turbines are not in the middle of flight paths. 

We then submit this assessment to the relevant planning authorities and take action to mitigate predicted impacts as much as possible. 

Following construction of our onshore wind farms, we continue monitoring bird activity throughout the operational lifetime of the project. This involves continued vantage point surveys and fatality monitoring to assure bird species are not negatively affected.

Investing in innovative technology to improve our understanding 

We have also invested in Spoor, a new technology aimed at collecting more and better birdlife data at our windfarms around the world. 

The technology uses a specially designed artificial intelligence system to monitor and track birdlife near wind power installations, particularly offshore. 

We hope that the new technology will help Ørsted, and the broader industry, get a better understanding of the interaction between birds and wind turbines – which will allow for better spatial planning of wind farms and improved biodiversity in the long run.

What is offshore wind power?

What is onshore wind power?

Onshore wind power explained