RTE is installing and producing live videos of ospreys living in nests located on top of RTE pylons in order to conduct ornithological studies.
Collisions of birds with power cables are a relevant cause of biodiversity loss as well as a cause of grid disruptions. In the past, RTE perceived bird nests on pylons as threats because of the weight which had to be supported and the short circuits they could cause. Today, ospreys are welcome on RTE pylons and the company has committed to a dedicated protection plan.
The protection of ospreys is a major issue since ospreys are “umbrella” species whose presence demonstrates the quality of the whole ecosystem in a defined region. While ospreys have almost disappeared from France a few decades ago, today 31 couples live in continental France, 20% of them as tenants of RTE pylons. The first initiative regarding osprey protection was to move the nests onto platforms located on top of the pylons. This allowed RTE to protect the quality of its electricity supply. RTE has led a task force with some partners (the Museum of Orleans for Biodiversity and Environment, a regional environmental NGO and ONF, the French National Forest Office) in order to choose the sites and the camera system, which had to be both non-intrusive for the ospreys and compatible with the pylon environment. RTE bought and installed the camera systems (powered by solar panels) on the pylons in winter during osprey migration. The ospreys came back from their migration in March 2016 and have started to mate. RTE’s partners have since then started to conduct ornithological studies on ospreys thanks to the camera system images, which allow them to observe the birds from their office at any time. The live images of the ospreys contribute also to the educational programmes put in place locally for the protection of ospreys and can be viewed by anyone online. The observations made thanks to the camera already raised RTE’s awareness on the need to adapt its pylon maintenance plan (painting, periodical patrol) to the osprey habits.
RTE is the French electricity transmission system operator. Its mission includes the operation, maintenance and development of the high and extra high voltage network. RTE also guarantees the smooth operation and security of the grid.