Avian Solar Work Group (ASWG)

July 22, 2019

Dr. Yuki Hamada, Ph.D.
EVS – Building 240
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Avenue
Lemont, IL  60439

 Re: Letter of Commitment in response to DE-FOA-0002064 Topic Area 3.2

 Dear Dr. Hamada:

The Avian-Solar Working Group (ASWG) is pleased to participate in a proposal submitted by Dr. Yuki Hamada and other researchers at Argonne National Laboratory titled “Developing a Deep Learning-Computer Vision Framework to Monitor Avian Interactions with Solar Energy Facility Infrastructure,” in response to the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy solicitation DE-FOA-0002064.

 The Avian Solar Work Group (ASWG) is a collaborative group of environmental organizations, academics, utilities, solar companies, and solar industry representatives that will advance coordinated scientific research to better understand how birds interact with solar facilities. 

 The ASWG has compiled a comprehensive list of research priorities, available at www.aviansolar.org. If successful, development of the proposed computer vision system for detecting avian activities around solar PV panels would generally support the following ASWG research priorities:

 Research around facility siting effects on avian mortality – an automated monitoring system would allow real-time detection of avian activities around solar panels (including fly-overs, perching, and collisions) at facilities with diverse locations and landscape features, allowing comparisons between facilities with respect to numbers and types of avian activities.
Research on feather spots – the automated system could potentially be used in conjunction with conventional monitoring, to either confirm the source of an identified feather spot as being from a panel collision, or discount a panel collision as the source (because real time video could show whether a collision had occurred). This work will require partnership with a facility conducting conventional monitoring in the same location that the automated system is collecting data.
Research on lake effect – The automated system could help to answer questions on whether water or other birds are attracted to solar facilities in two ways:1. the data collected on types of birds interacting with solar panels can be analyzed with respect to distance of the facility from water bodies; 2. Upward facing cameras at facilities near water bodies could collect data on whether birds show changes in flight direction or behavior as they approach arrays. 

 Because of the potential for the proposed system to address ASWG research priorities, ASWG will specifically commit to supporting the proposed project by encouraging our members to contribute expert knowledge about avian monitoring needed to address outstanding research questions and thus promote avian conservation. ASWG support would be available throughout the 36‑month period covered by the research proposal and would include facilitating participation of our members in several webinar workshops specifically related to Argonne’s development of the automated avian monitoring system, and participation in a symposium related more generally to ongoing avian-solar issues and research. Additionally, ASWG might facilitate discussions on potential partnerships with member solar companies for field testing of the system.

 As time and technical expertise permit, we estimate that approximately 15 to 25 ASWG members and colleagues would participate in these activities, with staff spending approximately 15 total hours for participation in webinar workshops, and approximately 24 hours for participation in the symposium. We estimate that the average compensation rate for ASWG members is $200/hr. Potentially, ASWG could provide resources to co-host the symposium.  ASWG members could provide comments on the monitoring system as it is being developed, assist with understanding needs and challenges of monitoring of avian interactions with solar facility infrastructure, and provide insights into how the automated technology could be successfully applied at solar facilities. Details regarding this in-kind commitment for the proposed project would be finalized following additional discussions.

 If you need additional information, please contact us through Ms. Gina Bartlett, Consensus Building Institute, at Gina@cbi.org, telephone 415-271-0049.



Avian Solar Work Group

Avian Solar Work Group