Ørsted and Spoor to improve wind farm birdlife data

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Ørsted is set to test and help commercialise Spoor AI’s new technology to improve collection of birdlife data at its wind farms around the world.

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The bird monitoring tool, described by energy company Ørsted as cost-effective and highly scalable, will help support the company’s ambition to deliver net-positive biodiversity impact for all new projects from 2030.

Ørsted and venture capital firms Nysnø Climate Investments (Nysnø), Wiski Capital, Norrsken Foundation, and Antler have invested in Spoor AI via a seed funding round. Spoor is a ‘deeptech’ start-up which has built a specially designed artificial intelligence (AI) system to monitor and track birdlife at offshore wind farms.

Climate change is a big contributor toward biodiversity loss, and rapid energy transition will be key to halting and reversing this. But more new wind infrastructure means more interaction with the natural world, which climate actions seeks to protect.

Ørsted is looking for new ways to further improve its understanding of that interaction, to minimise potential negative impact alongside action to proactively enhance biodiversity.

By working with Spoor, Ørsted hopes to improve its understanding of how birds behave while travelling in the vicinity of its wind farms. With this knowledge, wind farm design can be further optimised in line with Ørsted’s biodiversity ambitions.

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Several recent studies, including one supported by Ørsted, suggest that actual collisions are significantly fewer than currently modelled. The Spoor system aims to increase confidence in those predictions, helping to build robust statistical evidence in the field.

Data from systems like Spoor’s could help the offshore renewables industry refine wind farm project design whilst improving efficiency. In turn, this would allow the industry to build offshore wind projects faster and achieve the pace necessary to mitigate climate change in line with the 1.5°C scenario.

The benefit of Spoor’s system in comparison to available alternatives, like the combination of high-specification cameras, radars and human observers, is that the company’s AI technology has been developed to accurately track and identify birds specifically. 

“Ørsted’s Ventures & Open Innovation team is delighted to invest in Spoor and support their efforts to help the offshore wind sector build robust data on bird behaviour at sea,” said Maria Hoffmann, head of Ventures & Open Innovation at Ørsted.

“This investment also signals our commitment to support innovative start-up companies through our Ventures Programme and to develop knowledge and technologies that can reduce cost and risk, while enhancing sustainability and producing economic benefits.”

Once tested and commercialised, Ørsted said the technology will enable the broader offshore wind industry to access significantly more reliable camera arrays than previously possible. This will enable Ørsted to install many more cameras across a wind farm and get improved spatial and temporal data coverage for better understanding of bird behaviour.

Ørsted will share its knowledge and data from selected offshore wind farms with Spoor plus provide access to several real-world demonstration sites, namely Ørsted’s own wind farms. The renewables company is investigating opportunities to test and demonstrate Spoor’s tech at several locations as part of its global fleet of offshore wind farms and will kickstart the partnership this year. The partnership will also accelerate Spoor’s technology development by training the AI to relevant regional bird species.