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Funding innovation to support science-based solutions: The Wind Wildlife Research Fund

Funding innovation to support science-based solutions: The Wind Wildlife Research Fund
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This is a guest post from Kyle Boudreaux, NextEra Energy Resources and Chair of the Wind Wildlife Research Fund Advisory Council.

Continuous innovation and creative thinking are characteristics that define American wind power. A prime example of this is the Wind Wildlife Research Fund, a proactive approach led by the wind industry to achieve a sustainable clean energy future.

The Fund is a unique, industry-led initiative managed through the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI). It pools resources to advance collaborative research on wind-wildlife interactions. The goal is to produce scientifically-robust solutions that enable companies to optimize wildlife conservation and wind energy production simultaneously.

The Fund officially launched at the beginning of 2019. Thirty-three leading wind companies have invested in it, and 30 companies supported seven research projects that will help improve collision risk forecasts and evaluation, as well as potentially reducing species impacts. In its first year, the fund raised over $800,000 to invest in species-related research.

By leveraging resources, participating Fund companies advance research projects that address current challenges and produce widely applied results. Studies use a variety of host sites and leverage expertise, data, and technological and financial resources from many collaborators. In addition, the research is conducted by independent third party investigators and is peer-reviewed for publication where appropriate. This process creates the potential for greater efficiency in addressing industry’s needs while reducing overall investment from individual projects or companies.

Through its support for research on critical wind-wildlife topics, the Fund is expanding the body of scientific knowledge and statistically valid data. By potentially decreasing the risks and increasing the certainty associated with wind energy projects, these efforts can reduce wind energy development and operation costs. It can also fill in some existing knowledge gaps in order to inform regulatory and business decision making. In short, these efforts strive to ensure wind energy can continue to expand while achieving species conservation.

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. And we are already seeing results. Findings from 2019 projects are beginning to come in this fall, and we will announce new projects beginning in 2020 in the coming months.

Companies that contribute to the Fund also become AWWI Partners or Friends, and we are now launching a new Supporter category for other types of organizations that would like to support the efforts of the Fund. 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 aarnold@awwi.org.

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