In November 2018, the AWEA Board passed a resolution in support of creating the Wind Wildlife Research Fund (WWRF), an innovative initiative to pool industry investment and resources to support research on some of the most critical wind-wildlife issues. The Fund was launched in January, and its first year has been a success.
The Fund now has 33 companies on board. In 2019, it supported seven research projects that will enable wind companies to optimize wildlife conservation and energy production simultaneously by improving collision risk forecasts and evaluation, as well as potentially reducing species impacts. The Fund is managed by the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI).
Fund participants recognize the long-term benefits of investing in research that will reduce risk and permitting costs while helping the wind industry fulfill its carbon reduction potential. With results from the 2019 research projects coming in, Fund participants are looking ahead to address more priority questions in 2020. Some important members have shared their thoughts about the value of this pivotal initiative:
“We are committed to growing sustainably, and understanding how wildlife interacts with wind energy facilities is key to sustainable growth. We have taken a leadership role in collaborative efforts to advance research to minimize potential negative impacts. The WWRF is an innovative mechanism housed within AWWI and created to finance research that advances the understand of technologies and strategies to reduce or avoid negative wind wildlife interaction. With investments from over 30 wind energy companies, research projects are underway and intensive planning is informing projects slated for 2020 and beyond.” — Rene Braud, AWWI Board Member and Director of Environmental Policy & Compliance at Pattern Energy Group
“We have a lot of wind turbines to get in the ground in the next few years to meet customer demands and change the predicted climate change trajectory. Solving wildlife impact issues is mission critical for accelerating more wind energy on the grid. The Wind Wildlife Research Fund is off to a great start, however the wildlife research and resulting solutions that are urgently needed require financial resources. It’s up to everyone in this business to have skin in the game so that we can collectively face this challenge head on and succeed.” —Tim Hayes, AWWI Board Member and Environmental Director for Duke Energy Renewables
“Wildlife issues continue to affect the siting and operations of wind projects. We need robust, scientific data to engage in policy discussions that will allow us to continue to grow. The Wind and Wildlife Research Fund allows us to conduct research at a faster pace than ever before, but we need more financial resources and wider participation from the wind industry to reach our goals.” —Christi Calabrese, AWWI Board Member and Director of Permitting and Environmental Affairs for EDP Renewables
“As a founding member of AWWI, EDF Renewables highly values this unique space where a wide range of wind-wildlife stakeholders come together to exchange knowledge and ideas. We are proud of the work that AWWI has accomplished over the past decade, and the Fund has taken this concept a step further by creating unprecedented opportunities to support research on a given topic to pool resources. We believe in a future where solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing wind and wildlife come to fruition.” — Alyssa Edwards, AWWI Board Member and Director of Environmental Permitting for EDF Renewables
The Fund’s activities and priorities are guided by an Advisory Council comprised of the Fund’s major contributors, and all Fund participants determine their support for individual research projects. Companies that contribute to the Fund also become AWWI Partners or Friends, and the Fund is now launching a new Supporter category for other types of organizations that would like to support these efforts. New research projects have been selected for 2020, and participation by new companies is actively encouraged. If you would like to learn more about the Wind Wildlife Research Fund, please contact AWWI Executive Director Abby Arnold at 202-448-8775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.