State-of-the-Art Monitoring Systems Protects Birds from Collision with Turbine Blades
AES is best known in Bulgaria as the largest foreign investor in the country’s energy sector. The first association with the company’s name is AES Galabovo, the country’s newest and most environmentally friendly thermal power station which supplies around 7% of the country’s total electricity needs.
But AES Bulgaria also built and operates Bulgaria’s largest wind farm, St Nikola. AES is the majority owner of the farm in partnership with the Bulgarian-German company Geo Power. The wind farm is located in the Kavarna region near the Black Sea in north-eastern Bulgaria and has 52 wind turbines. With an installed capacity of 156 MW, St Nikola has around 22% of the total wind generation in the country. Thanks to St Nikola, Bulgaria is already exceeding its 2020 target of having 16% share of energy generated from renewable energy sources. Currently 19% of electricity produced in Bulgaria comes from renewables.
In 2018, the St Nikola Wind Farm supplied 318,000 MWh to the country’s electricity system. This helped save more than 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
AES monitors and operates the wind farm from its control room at AES Galabovo located 350 km away from Kavarna. A small local team is present at the site for maintenance or for any necessary physical intervention outside of regular working hours.
St Nikola also pioneered the use of state-of-the-art bird monitoring technology to protect birds in the Kaliakra region. The integrated early warning system minimizes the risk of bird collisions with the turbine blades by stopping single turbines or the entire wind farm, if needed. In 2018, turbines at the wind farm were halted for a total of 59 hours to minimize the risks of collisions.
The system uses information from several high-tech radar systems and meteorological data while local ornithologists also provide regular physical monitoring on-site. They monitor birds in the area on a daily basis, assess potential hazards and, where necessary, issue orders to shut down turbines.
St Nikola’s bird monitoring system has been so effective that it has now been replicated by all the other wind farms in the area.
AES Bulgaria is also investing 160,000 BGN (€80,000) annually in local community programs in Kavarna, mainly in education and health.
Together with AES Galabovo and St Nikola wind farm, AES Bulgaria provides approximately 7% of Bulgaria’s electricity capacity, enough to power roughly 1,000,000 households for one year.
Using state-of-the-art technology and diverse local energy sources, AES is proud to contribute to Bulgaria’s energy independence and security of supply.