Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Predictive environmental understanding

Argonne's avian solar project featured in WIRED magazine

August 28, 2020

While solar energy is billed as clean and environmentally friendly, it has a problem with birds. Utility companies have been finding over 100,000 bird carcasses every year, but no one is quite sure why.

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy, Solar Energy Technology Office awarded a team of Argonne researchers $1.3 million to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) platform implementing technology to study how birds behave at large-scale solar facilities around the United States. “The important thing is to reduce solar's environmental impact in every form,” says Yuki Hamada, a biophysical scientist in EVS who is leading the project. The EVS team is working with Adam Szymanski, a software engineer in the Strategic Security Sciences division, to develop an AI-powered bird watcher.

Read the WIRED magazine article featuring this work: Why Do Solar Farms Kill Birds? Call in the AI Bird Watcher

Bird movement captured in video. A series of small video frames will be used for a computer model to learn what a bird would look like.
Bird movement captured in video. A series of small video frames will be used for a computer model to learn what a bird would look like. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]
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portrait of Yuki Hamada