Protection of birds
Protection of birds on extra-high-voltage lines
Network installations, and in this case above all overhead lines, are facilities welcomed by birds in their habitats. Where high trees are lacking, for instance, birds use pylons as a perch or to nest in. Especially in the migration periods in spring and autumn, the lines form popular resting and rendezvous points. But overhead lines can also be detrimental to the world of birds. This was recognised by the predecessor companies of Amprion GmbH over twenty years ago and appropriate action was taken.
There is no risk of injury to birds by electrocution on extra-high-voltage power lines as the distance between the phases and earthed components is so great that it cannot be bridged by birds. However, some species have difficulty recognising thin horizontal obstacles, including conductor cables of extra-high-voltage power lines. Here there is the risk that birds cannot avoid the line in time and collide with the conductor.
Therefore the company asked bird protection specialists in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, the Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Baden-Württemberg to take over the scientific leadership of a three-year research project to thoroughly investigate the issue and develop solutions.
The plan proved to be very complex. The habitat needs, the migration and resting behaviour, but also behavioural-biology aspects of various bird species as well as climatic conditions needed to be considered. The results of the study are documented in a special edition of the ornithological journal 'Vogel und Umwelt'.
Fortunately the risk is confined to a few, small-scale areas in the Amprion GmbH grid. The focal points of bird migration and life, such as lowlands, coastal areas, lakes and rivers need special attention. Potential small-scale and regional risks can be effectively eliminated by marking the lightning protection line running between the tips of pylons.
The analysis of the grid presently being carried out by ornithologists on behalf of the company to identify bird-critical line sections has produced the first results for approximately a quarter of the extra-high-voltage network in the states of Hesse, the Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. Of the 10,000 line sections (line section = distance from pylon to pylon), 253 were graded as potentially hazardous to birds.
These areas have been equipped with markers that have also been developed as part of the research. Effectiveness tests - carried out by the centre for nature conservation in Kleve on the lower Rhine - proved that the markers are highly effective so that further hazards for the world of birds can be practically ruled out.