Home Manufacturing & Industry Seabird poo problem obliterated by offshore scarecrow

Seabird poo problem obliterated by offshore scarecrow

An innovative scarecrow system designed to prevent the costly issue of seabird droppings on offshore wind farms has proved overwhelmingly successful in a year-long trial with Galloper Wind Farm.

Seabird poo or ‘guano’ is a huge problem for the global offshore wind industry as it poses a serious health risk, due to its highly carcinogenic qualities, and is extremely expensive and unpleasant to remove.

A ‘Scaretech’ system was installed on the substation at Galloper Offshore Wind Farm, 27km off the Suffolk Coast, in July 2019 to address the guano problem. In the last 12 months, Scaretech, has reduced guano on the structure from approximately 50-60% coverage to virtually nothing – an unprecedented result for the industry.
Galloper Offshore Wind Farm, which is operated by RWE Renewables, comprises 56 wind turbines and powers more than 380,000UK homes.

Kieron Drew, Interim Operations & Maintenance Manager at Galloper, said: “There is an abundance of seabass around our Galloper site, which attracts large numbers of seabirds. These in turn generate significant quantities of guano, which poses an unpleasant health and safety hazard for us.

“We were looking for a solution and, after considering more expensive options, decided to trial Scaretech. This is a new innovation for the wind industry and it certainly worked for us. Once we installed the Scaretch device, we saw dramatic reductions in the amount of guano. In fact, the problem is now almost non-existent.

“Scaretech is extremely robust, maintenance-free and solar powered so after installation we were able to just forget about it. It’s been a fantastic asset and has saved us a considerable amount in clean-up costs and technician time.”
This is the second time Scaretech’s guano solution has been successfully trialled, with an initial four-week pilot also showing strong results.

The Scaretech device is based on a traditional scarecrow concept – used successfully for centuries to keep birds off crops – and adapted for the harsh offshore environment of a wind farm or oil platform. Designed to look like an offshore wind worker in full protective clothing, Scaretech is manufactured from steel, flexible foam and PVC and powered by solar panels. It is securely fixed to the offshore structure so it can operate in extreme weather conditions.

As well as simulating a human, Scaretech emits sporadic loud noises and high intensity strobe lights which deters seabirds from landing on the structure.

Scaretech is the brainchild of offshore client representative, Terry Christie. Terry and his team were heading home on a vessel when someone noticed a familiar high visibility PPE colour on the now distant offshore wind turbine they’d been working on. Thinking someone had been left behind, the vessel returned to the wind turbine to find it was a forgotten high-vis protective jacket – not a man.

Interestingly the area around the abandoned jacket was the only place seagulls weren’t landing within the proximity. Using this intelligence and the age-old scarecrow concept, Terry decided to develop the Scaretech device, along with his colleague, offshore engineer, Paddy Armstrong, and assess its effectiveness. He has now joined forces with wind service company, CPower Energy, to promote Scaretech to the global offshore market.

Terry Christie, said: “This trial with Galloper wind farm is a game-changer for us and shows once and for all that Scaretech is an extremely effective, long-standing solution for the guano problem.

“We knew of the systems’ potential from our previous trial but this data now proves that just one Scaretech can protect an area as large as a substation or helideck from guano for 12 months and longer. Over time, the birds never become accustomed to the device and simply stay away from it.

“This is fantastic news for the offshore industry. Any health and safety matrix highlights the need to eliminate hazards if at all possible, and Scaretech certainly does this for guano.

“We’ve taken the simple bird deterrent of a scarecrow- tested over hundreds of years – and updated it with the latest, state-of-the-art technology to enable it to withstand the extreme weather conditions offshore. Scaretech works beyond everyone’s expectations and we now plan to launch a low-cost monthly rental option to enable the offshore sector to benefit from this proven solution.”

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