Optimal design and routing of power lines - OPTIPOL

OPTIPOL will address the impact of power lines on wildlife habitats. Photo:© Kjetil Bevanger/NINA

Optimal design and routing of power lines are important to avoid harmful effects on the habitats of birds and mammals. OPTIPOL will create systems for collecting data about wildlife near power lines and analyze the effects they have on habitats. Furthermore, the project will look at where and how new lines can be built and adapted to ensure optimal ecologic and economic outcomes.

Power lines can be a major threat to some bird populations, and birds short-circuiting power lines and transformers lead to damage and societal costs. Power line corridors can be both harmful barriers and useful habitats for birds and mammals. There is both ecological and economical potential for improved technical and planning solutions in routing and design of power lines. The project will identify high-risk areas for bird collisions, and the infrastructure’s importance as barriers and habitats for animals.

Using this information OPTIPOL will develop new tools for minimizing negative impacts and at the same time utilize the potential for positive effects for wildlife near power lines. The aim is to provide an improved knowledge base and better tools for energy and environment authorities in their efforts to bring climate friendly energy from power plants to consumers.


  • Develop a “least-cost path” GIS-based application for an environmental friendly routing of power lines based on ecological, financial and technological criteria.
  • Assess power-line Rights-of-Way (ROW) as wildlife habitats, and in particular study how habitat selection by moose is influenced.
  • Assess population impact of bird mortality due to power-line collisions, relative to other human related mortality factors (primarily hunting) in gallinaceous birds (with capercaillie and black grouse as model species).
  • Identify ecological high-risk factors for bird collisions, i.e. site-specific factors connected to topographic characteristics, including vegetation structure, season, weather and light conditions.
  • Establish a national web portal for management of dead bird data (including birds recorded as collision and electrocution victims) by developing an online web application enabling the general public to contribute with data on recorded dead birds via Internet.
  • Review available literature to assess 1) the possibilities for increased collision hazard to birds by making power-line structures less visible for humans given the present knowledge on bird vision, and 2) technical properties and constraints of camouflaging techniques on conductors and earth wires.
  • Review available literature on technical modifying solutions and assess their effective-ness to mitigate bird collisions and electrocution.
  • Develop guidelines for technical solutions to mitigate power-line induced mortality to birds.
  • Assess eagle owl mortality and population impact caused by power-line collision and elec-trocution, identify high-hazard collision and electrocution structures and possible mitigating measures.