Bird protection along EHV overhead lines
In many places, our extra-high-voltage power lines offer birds a substitute for structures that are lacking in nature: birds of prey use them, for example, as a raised vantage point from which to keep a lookout for quarry. Particularly in regions where there are few tall trees, some bird species build their nests on electricity pylons. The animals run little risk of being electrocuted – large insulation distances between EHV lines ensure that. In addition, Amprion has attached nesting aids to some pylons.
However, overhead lines can also pose an obstacle to birds in the air. The main problem here are poorly visible conductor cables with which the animals can collide while in flight. This risk is minimised by the conductor bundles mostly used in the transmission grid, which comprise several conductor cables and are easy for birds to detect than individual cables. Furthermore, at many points in our grid we use bird protection markers to make the lightning protection cables that are strung above the conductor cables more visible to birds. Operating a grid that is as bird-friendly as possible.
Bird protection programme for the EHV grid
Our bird protection programme goes back more than 20 years. Back then, research projects were conducted jointly with ornithological field stations, scientists and ornithologists to investigate how birds behave in vicinity of overhead lines and under which circumstances collisions might occur. One important finding was that there is an increased risk of collision and therefore a need for grid operators to take action only in certain areas of the grid – for example, near stretches of water and the coast or in areas with large bird populations, such as feeding and resting places.
Based on these findings, Amprion launched a comprehensive bird protection programme. Ornithologists identified critical route sections within the entire grid, in which birds were threatened by particular dangers. Along these sections we installed special bird protection markers on the lightning protection cables that are run between the tops of the pylons. Subsequent surveys have shown that the markers attached have reduced the collision risk for various bird species by up to 90 per cent.
Bird protection markers
One of Amprion’s bird protection programme measures has been to install bird protection markers on the lightning protection cables in potential danger areas of the grid. These enable the animals to spot the conductor lines earlier and reduces the risk of collision.
The Bird Portal operated by Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union, NABU; the German branch of BirdLife) and supported by the Renewables Grid Initiative ( RGI) is an initiative that aims to further improve the protection of birds within the power grid network. Since 2017 members of the public can use the online platform to report bird carcasses discovered in the area of overhead power lines. The finds are recorded, evaluated by experts and displayed on an interactive map. Thus, the bird portal helps to identify potential areas along power lines in which grid operators can initiate further bird protection measures if necessary. Another aspect of the initiative is to exchange ideas and best practices on mitigation measures among German network operators. Amprion supports this project together with other transmission and distribution network operators in order to reduce the risks for birds in our own grid area.
Please find the reporting platform here (in German).