New technology keeps birds off big rooftop solar arrays

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Principal consultant Heath Waldorf said: Bird control recommendations

Imagine all the calculations about productivity, the value of that energy in both sellable electricity and green energy production credits (SRECs/TRECs) over the next 15 years. The number of panels that will fit on the roof, the type of racks to secure everything, the quality of the inverters you plan to use, the expected maintenance costs, etc. will all be put together in a report and presented to the investor. did you get it? good. Now imagine a flock of seagulls flying in through an open window and pooping all over your well-crafted document.

Pest birds can cause the following problems for rooftop solar arrays:

  • 10%, 20%, or even 50% reduction in production
  • Extra cost for cleaning
  • Permanent damage from hotspots
  • Panel shattered from falling debris
  • Workers unable to perform maintenance
  • Clogged drains and roof leaks

Bird problems are most frequent geographically in coastal areas of the United States and near the Great Lakes. High-risk locations include urban environments, locations along migration routes, and locations near small bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

Food sources that are sometimes tied to bodies of water include landfills and waste transfer stations, food manufacturers, and even garbage-rich cities and commercial areas.

Birds are attracted to the warmth the panels generate, often to nests and shelter under the arrays that protect the chicks (babies) from the elements. The panel warms up over the course of the day. Birds return to their evening roosts to find a cozy spot.

Birds are also often drawn to certain places. site not solar cells. When surveying a rooftop site for potential development of a photovoltaic system, be fed up with sites that have evidence of bird problems. Birds may avoid the site during construction/installation activities. No, but when the hustle and bustle of activity subsides, they quickly return to their longtime residences.

How to remove fouling of panels by birds

The cheap and easy way doesn’t work. Propane cannons, spinning shiny discs, iridescent streamers, and audio systems (both ultrasonic and audible) have all proven ineffective in the long run.

For a long time there was only one solution to bird soaring in large flat roof situations — poles, hardware, and artificial ceilings above the roof using either stainless steel cables or monofilament. The gull wire elevated grid system you create is erected as a grid at any interval from 10. ‘center to 25’. It is based on the principle of bird behavior that soaring birds do not like to fly under objects. Using poles to lift the gull wire grids provides better access and eliminates tripping hazards for maintenance.

However, new options for protection are now available.

Laser technology has been used for years to scare migratory birds in fields and food production facilities. Only recently has this technology been applied to commercial roofs with solar arrays.

A device that looks like a surveillance camera is installed in the sky above the disaster area. Each custom-programmed unit patrols the roof with a green laser beam that birds see as a threat. Birds perceive the entire beam as a solid object coming towards them and move to safety. The system operates in user-determined patterns at defined times to maximize safety in response to bird behavior.

Lasers have been shown to reduce bird populations by up to 90% silently and at a fraction of the cost of gull-wire grid systems.

When should action be taken?

If your site already has bird problems, now is the time to take action. The longer the problem persists, the more difficult it will be to move the population. There are caveats when dealing with protected species with specific legislation governing when and how remedies can be applied. Also, do not take any measures during the bird’s nesting or parenting period. They are territorial, aggressive about their space, and unresponsive to threats to deter their existence.

Birds should be an important part of a project’s fouling abatement plan. In high-risk areas, deploy solutions proactively as insurance against the risk of reduced production and cleaning costs. Without the right solution, the risk of equipment damage and cleaning costs increase.

Can mitigation systems be built into initial development and incorporated into government incentives and tax rebates? It would be better if there were no bird problems in the first place — especially if costs could be discounted. SREC/TREC Producers In a fixed and limited amount of time, the power lost by bird droppings cannot be recovered.

Heath Waldorf is a bird mitigation consultant with 20 years of experience protecting buildings and structures from bird pest problems. He has worked on projects for major architects and engineers around the world, property developers, power companies, and his O&M companies in solar power.he can reach through him website.

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