As the sun rises over a grassy field, birds begin to chirp and call. By recording these sounds, scientists can help developers determine if that field is a good site to build a new solar farm.
Solar farms can take up a lot of land. By 2030, utility-scale solar could cover more than 2.5 million acres across the U.S.
“One of our top concerns with utility-scale solar development is that footprint impact on habitat or sensitive areas,” says ornithologist Aaron Boone of Environmental Solutions and Innovations, a consulting company.
To help solar developers evaluate a potential site, his group looks at how it’s used by migratory birds and threatened species.
They rely on existing data, aerial images, and field studies. And now audio recorders have also become a useful tool.
These recorders can be deployed across a large area and left to collect data for a long time – “as opposed to sending a survey crew to collect data the more traditional way with pen and paper and binoculars sort of thing,” Boone says.
Audio recorders can detect birds that are hard to see or that use the site infrequently, so the data they provide helps solar farm developers avoid critical bird habitat.
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media