Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
Wind banner


Offshore wind has huge potential to meet the nation's energy needs. Developing just 1 percent of this potential could power nearly 6.5 million homes. However, uncertainty about the effects offshore wind turbines have on bird and bat populations has slowed the widespread deployment of offshore wind. We're working to reduce this uncertainty by developing continuous monitoring technologies. Continuous monitoring of offshore locations is necessary to get a complete picture of the animals that live there. However, monitoring offshore locations is difficult because of limited accessibility, harsh weather conditions, and poor visibility.

A PNNL-developed open-source software package, called ThermalTracker, works by extracting flight tracks of birds and bats from thermal video recordings. It characterizes flight tracks in quantified terms and allows researchers to get a more complete picture of the animals that live in offshore locations. ThermalTracker plug-and-play software can be used with any standard desktop computer, thermal camera, and statistical software to identify species and behaviors of animals in offshore locations.

Offshore wind researchers can use ThermalTracker to better understand the potential effects of offshore wind turbines on bird and bat populations. This cost-effective technology can help developers fulfill environmental monitoring requirements, and regulators can be better equipped with accurate, near real-time data.

ThermalTracker can be downloaded for free here.

Wind Research at PNNL

Research Areas


Core Expertise

Related Programs