Bird monitoring in offshore wind farms

Spoor's computer vision software used for seabird monitoring at Baltic Eagle

Interviews R&D Biodiversity PERSEO


March 2023.    Reading Time: 5 minutes.

Norwegian start-up Spoor will test its artificial intelligence solution for integrating offshore wind farms and nature for a year at the Baltic Eagle site. Thanks to computer vision, Spoor will help us to better understand the impact of our project in the Baltic Sea on the behaviour of migratory birds.

Tecnología de monitorización de aves de Spoor
Tecnología de monitorización de aves de Spoor

Spoor uses AI for bird monitoring in offshore wind farms

The Norwegian company Spoor – winner of the PERSEO Start-up challenge Introducing nature-inclusive solutions in offshore wind farm design – will have the opportunity to test its innovative solution for migratory bird monitoring at our Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm in Germany.  

Using artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning and computer vision – a step beyond machine vision – the technology aims to collect information on the presence of birds around the facilities through five cameras over a period of twelve months. The data obtained will shed light on any potential effects of the park on their behaviour, providing us with valuable information and thus supporting Iberdrola in our firm commitment to respect nature and care for biodiversity

Ask Helseth, Spoor CEO

"Our aim is to enable the coexistence of nature and industry and thus accelerate the deployment of sustainable and biodiversity-friendly energy production"

Ask Helseth

CEO of Spoor

In an interview, Spoor's Enlace externo, se abre en ventana nueva. CEO, Ask Helseth, tells us more about the work of the start-up specialising in artificial intelligence, its experience in the renewables sector and its innovation project with an international group such as Iberdrola. A collaboration structured through the PERSEO start-up programme and framed within the company's commitment to innovation as a way of creating sustainable value in society

What kind of innovative solution did you propose to win the Start-up challenge on nature-inclusive wind farm design?

Our proposal involved the use of enhanced surveillance cameras and AI computer vision software to monitor the desired area of the wind farm. By using computer vision AI models to analyse the video footage from the cameras we are able to collect data on bird counts, species, flight height and direction, as well as behaviour in the wind farm area.  

These data can then be used for statistical analyses on the impact of wind farms on local avifauna and, if necessary, to support decision-making on mitigation measures.  

What led you as a company to specialise in the offshore wind farm niche?

We saw a great need for new technologies in the offshore wind market. We see that many projects are delayed due to permit allocation or other environmental issues, which leades to many bottlenecks. At Spoor we want to help and accelerate the energy transition, which is why we decided to focus on offshore wind for now.  

It is certainly a big challenge to introduce a new technology in a heavily regulated market. It takes time and a deep understanding of the market. 

What motivated you the most to participate in the PERSEO start-up challenge?

As a young company, it is key for us to partner with pioneers in the field of innovation to validate our technology, develop it faster and take it further. Participating in a challenge set by PERSEO will allow us to install our system in an operational offshore wind farm, while receiving support to further develop our product and learning directly from the market. 

How is the computer vision and AI technology you use to track, monitor and classify birds in the wind farms?

We use the latest advances in deep learning and computer vision technology. Our proprietary technology, developed in-house, allows us to detect and track very small objects from super-high resolution images using specialised surveillance camera technology. This allows us to monitor large areas and effectively monitor wind farms, as required by our clients in the energy sector.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the pilot that is going to be launched at Baltic Eagle? 

At Baltic Eagle, Spoor will install 5 cameras that will monitor the birds and collect data on their behaviour. We will focus particularly on migratory birds and try to determine whether the wind farm has changed their behaviour in any way. The cameras will be up and running for a minimum period of 12 months in order to collect a full year's worth of data.

How do companies that invest in fauna monitoring and control around their wind turbines make a difference? 

The data and statistics generated with Spoor's system are key to understand the impact of a wind farm on the area's birdlife and complete environmental impact assessments, ensuring compliance with licensing conditions and helping operators achieve their biodiversity targets.

As such, the impact is twofold: it ensures that wind farms are built and operated with minimal impact on birdlife and it enables the construction of much-needed renewable energy that is also nature-friendly.

"The data and statistics generated with Spoor's system are key to understand the impact of a wind farm on the birdlife in the area, ensuring compliance with licensing conditions"

Ask Helseth

CEO of Spoor

Your company's vision is "Helping industry and nature to coexist". Is more innovation and investment needed to achieve this?

No doubt about it. Constant innovation and investment are key to achieve this. Our goal is to continuously evolve and develop a more powerful algorithm every day.  

Like many issues related to biodiversity conservation and innovation technology, lack of awareness is a major challenge that needs to be addressed. We see increasing awareness of these issues, but we still believe that more can and should be done to achieve our vision.

Finally, what is Spoor's business goal and what are your medium-term projects in that direction?

Our aim is to enable the coexistence of nature and industry and thus accelerate the deployment of sustainable and biodiversity-friendly energy production. To do this at scale, we partner with companies like Iberdrola that are building a large number of wind farms. Together we can contribute to accelerate the green transition.

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