Avian interactions with utility-scale solar facilities have been a much-discussed topic since the latter part of 2013. The ASWG endeavors to investigate issues including but not limited to the extent to which utility-scale solar projects cause avian mortality, and whether potentially causal mortalities could have adverse impacts on bird populations. For example, because little is known about background avian mortality (i.e. mortality in the field, absent development), particularly for non-listed avian species, determining the degree of causality, if any, is a challenge.
The Avian Solar Work Group (ASWG) is a collaborative group of environmental organizations, academics, solar companies, and solar industry representatives that will advance coordinated scientific research to better understand how birds interact with solar facilities. Given the threat that climate change poses to avian species, participants will work with the shared interests of protecting avian species and developing solar projects in an environmentally responsible and a commercially viable manner.
The ASWG is envisioned as a collaborative assembly of companies from the utility-scale solar industry, representatives from environmental non-governmental organizations, interested academics, and other parties who have experience with and are interested in the interaction of avian species with utility-scale solar facilities. The purpose of the ASWG is to better understand and address potential avian interactions with utility-scale solar projects with an approach that blends collaboration, issue identification, and action. The ASWG will have a national scale, while recognizing the location of many solar facilities throughout the 6 southwestern states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico.
1. Identify the fundamental research questions we need to answer.
2. Identify which questions can be answered with existing data, existing and proposed research initiatives, and which require further research.
3. Supplement the most recent Review of Avian Monitoring and Mitigation Information at Existing Utility-Scale Solar Facilities report with existing data, and map all available data on the interactions between birds and solar power facilities to identify information gaps and inform future data collection methods.
4. Develop and implement standardized field methods for near-term data collection to fill information gaps.
5. Continue to refine and improve data collection methods based on findings and conclusions.
6. Explore the implications of the data/research findings on policy
7. Communicate, on an ongoing basis, relevant information and findings to governmental agencies and stakeholders.
8. As appropriate, develop industry best practices to reduce adverse avian impacts.