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Contextualizing avian mortality: A preliminary appraisal of bird and bat fatalities from wind, fossil-fuel, and nuclear electricity

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  • Sovacool, Benjamin K.

Abstract

This article explores the threats that wind farms pose to birds and bats before briefly surveying the recent literature on avian mortality and summarizing some of the problems with it. Based on operating performance in the United States and Europe, this study offers an approximate calculation for the number of birds killed per kWh generated for wind electricity, fossil-fuel, and nuclear power systems. The study estimates that wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh. While this paper should be respected as a preliminary assessment, the estimate means that wind farms killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fueled power plants 14.5 million. The paper concludes that further study is needed, but also that fossil-fueled power stations appear to pose a much greater threat to avian wildlife than wind and nuclear power technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2009. "Contextualizing avian mortality: A preliminary appraisal of bird and bat fatalities from wind, fossil-fuel, and nuclear electricity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2241-2248, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:6:p:2241-2248
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Lindboe, Hans H. & Odgaard, Ole, 2008. "Is the Danish Wind Energy Model Replicable for Other Countries?," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 27-38, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kaldellis, J.K. & Apostolou, D. & Kapsali, M. & Kondili, E., 2016. "Environmental and social footprint of offshore wind energy. Comparison with onshore counterpart," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 543-556.
    2. Dai, Kaoshan & Bergot, Anthony & Liang, Chao & Xiang, Wei-Ning & Huang, Zhenhua, 2015. "Environmental issues associated with wind energy – A review," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 911-921.
    3. Levitt, Andrew C. & Kempton, Willett & Smith, Aaron P. & Musial, Walt & Firestone, Jeremy, 2011. "Pricing offshore wind power," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 6408-6421, October.
    4. Sumper, Andreas & Boix-Aragonès, Oriol & Villafáfila-Robles, Roberto & Bergas-Jané, Joan & Ramírez-Pisco, Rodrigo, 2010. "Methodology for the assessment of the impact of existing high voltage lines in urban areas," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6036-6044, October.
    5. Kaldellis, John K. & Zafirakis, D., 2011. "The wind energy (r)evolution: A short review of a long history," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1887-1901.
    6. Enevoldsen, Peter, 2016. "Onshore wind energy in Northern European forests: Reviewing the risks," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1251-1262.
    7. Jennifer C. Wilson & Mike Elliott & Nick D. Cutts & Lucas Mander & Vera Mendão & Rafael Perez-Dominguez & Anna Phelps, 2010. "Coastal and Offshore Wind Energy Generation: Is It Environmentally Benign?," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(7), pages 1-40, July.
    8. McCubbin, Donald & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2013. "Quantifying the health and environmental benefits of wind power to natural gas," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 429-441.
    9. Shafiullah, G.M. & M.T. Oo, Amanullah & Shawkat Ali, A.B.M. & Wolfs, Peter, 2013. "Potential challenges of integrating large-scale wind energy into the power grid–A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 306-321.
    10. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:245-260 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Gorsevski, Pece V. & Cathcart, Steven C. & Mirzaei, Golrokh & Jamali, Mohsin M. & Ye, Xinyue & Gomezdelcampo, Enrique, 2013. "A group-based spatial decision support system for wind farm site selection in Northwest Ohio," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 374-385.
    12. Pfenninger, Stefan & Keirstead, James, 2015. "Comparing concentrating solar and nuclear power as baseload providers using the example of South Africa," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 303-314.
    13. Siyal, Shahid Hussain & Mörtberg, Ulla & Mentis, Dimitris & Welsch, Manuel & Babelon, Ian & Howells, Mark, 2015. "Wind energy assessment considering geographic and environmental restrictions in Sweden: A GIS-based approach," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 447-461.
    14. Tabatabaei, Sharareh Majdzadeh & Hadian, Ebrahim & Marzban, Hossein & Zibaei, Mansour, 2017. "Economic, welfare and environmental impact of feed-in tariff policy: A case study in Iran," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 164-169.
    15. Sascha Samadi, 2017. "The Social Costs of Electricity Generation—Categorising Different Types of Costs and Evaluating Their Respective Relevance," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(3), pages 1-37, March.
    16. Walston, Leroy J. & Rollins, Katherine E. & LaGory, Kirk E. & Smith, Karen P. & Meyers, Stephanie A., 2016. "A preliminary assessment of avian mortality at utility-scale solar energy facilities in the United States," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 405-414.
    17. Gasparatos, Alexandros & Doll, Christopher N.H. & Esteban, Miguel & Ahmed, Abubakari & Olang, Tabitha A., 2017. "Renewable energy and biodiversity: Implications for transitioning to a Green Economy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 161-184.
    18. Saidur, R. & Rahim, N.A. & Islam, M.R. & Solangi, K.H., 2011. "Environmental impact of wind energy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 2423-2430, June.

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