Wind energy & wildlife
Wind energy is a key component of government strategy to decarbonise the Irish economy and reduce the impacts of climate change. It provides environmental benefits over other forms of energy production, including near-zero greenhouse gas emissions, reductions in air pollution, and little or no water use during electricity production. As of 2016, wind energy alone was responsible for a reduction in CO2 emissions of over 2 million tonnes per year in Ireland. However, as with all forms of energy production, poorly sited or badly designed wind energy projects can have adverse impacts on wildlife and habitats.
The initial focus of MKO Research relates to biodiversity and renewable energy, and specifically to the interactions between wildlife and wind energy.
MKO Research conducts research to advance our understanding of wind energy risks to wildlife and develop solutions to avoid, minimise and offset those impacts. Building on existing knowledge in Ireland and developing novel cutting-edge approaches, we contribute to global applied knowledge on wildlife-wind energy interactions through open-access, peer-reviewed scientific studies. MKO Research works collaboratively with conservation organisations, academic institutions, and governmental agencies in Ireland to ensure that efforts to develop wind energy are aligned with national conservation priorities.
RE-Harrier (Renewable energy and hen harriers)
Our current research project focuses on the interactions between hen harriers and wind energy developments. Hen harriers are a species of conservation concern in Ireland and across Europe. Despite their conservation status and ongoing development of wind energy throughout their range, substantial uncertainty still exists regarding the effects of wind farms on this emblematic bird of prey. RE-Harrier studies different aspects of hen harrier spatial ecology in relation to wind farms, to improve our understanding of the effects of these developments on the species and to inform effective conservation strategies and best environmental practice for wind energy developments.
MKO Research Team
MKO Research is led by Dr. Darío Fernández-Bellon. Darío has 15 years’ experience in wildlife conservation and research on projects across Europe, Africa, North and South America. His research is aimed at understanding how wild bird populations respond to different factors of global change (including climate change, land use change and energy developments) and has been published in international peer-reviewed journals. In Ireland, he has worked for BirdWatch Ireland and University College Cork, focusing on the ecology and conservation of different bird species (hen harrier, merlin, curlew and lapwing among others) and has led multiple publications, including several on the interactions between upland birds and wind farms.
Other Research Opportunities
MKO Research are always keen to meet experienced researchers interested in collaborating or joining our group. If you have a research idea in line with our current work or if your academic experience and research ideas have an application for a particular industry or sector, we’ll give you the support needed to turn your idea into an opportunity of its own. We will consider a wide range of research topics that are applicable to the industry sectors that MKO are actively working in.
Your Research Requirements
With the established structure of MKO Research, MKO can build research teams for different sectors of industry to investigate and solve challenges faced by clients. Our broad experience across multiple disciplines and a wide variety of industry sectors provides the ideal starting point to meet your research needs. With our scientific research experience, we can leverage private-sector seed-funding to access more substantial research grant funding from State or European agencies. Contact us to discuss your specific applied research requirements.