Scopoli’s shearwater is a bird that spends most of its life at sea, only returning to land to breed. The moment the fledglings make their first flight out to sea is critical, because they typically do so at night, using the stars for guidance, and often get confused by light pollution from cities, causing them to fall, disoriented, from the sky.
Staff at the Candelaria power plant in Tenerife are very familiar with this phenomenon, because they have spent a great deal of time rescuing birds who fall into their installations, having become disoriented by the lights of the power plant. For this reason, they decided to try turning off the lights during the shearwater’s migration season, between mid-October and mid-November.
"In view of the positive results of this initiative, we decided to conduct a study of areas where lighting can be turned off whilst avoiding danger to people and to the installation itself. This programme had excellent results: from accounting for between 25 and 30% of birds rescued in the region (i.e. 30% of the birds that fall to Earth) to only 7% this year", explains José Manuel Martín Zarza, the head of the project at the Candelaria plant.
This initiative, which enables staff at the plant to be involved in an activity different to their day-to-day jobs, whilst also contributing to a positive environmental action, was recognised by the Premio Byem (Busca y encuentra mejoras – Seek and find improvements) as the Best environmental initiative in the CCGT and O&G sector. These awards are held annually by the employees of coal and combined-cycle gas turbine power plants to find initiatives that improve the processes, efficiency and safety at work.
Within the plants, safety is also a vital concern. How can an emergency best be managed? This was the issue that prompted Pablo Gutiérrez Cerezales, Director of the power plant at Alcúdia, to design a mobile app for emergency situations, which won the prize for the Best Safety Initiative (at coal-fired power plants).
"In this type of installations, we have secure and redundant systems such as megaphones, telephone systems and even radio transceivers, but our aim is to take a step further, combining digitisation with safety, and we are determined to have an operational emergency app for the next drill", explains Gutiérrez.