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Reply #29: Birds and windpower (some science) [View All]

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Celefin Donating Member (256 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-17-09 08:02 AM
Response to Reply #3
29. Birds and windpower (some science)
Article by Sovacool, B.K. (2009), journal source: Energy Policy

I am only posting the abstract, as it is not a freely available article and thus under copright, sorry.

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.

It has to be said that he factors in habitat loss from climate change at 4.98 fatalities per GWh for fossil fuel plants. This is an estimate based on other scientific papers and not observed fact - still I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.

He cites survey data from the US GAO (2005) on bird mortality and on wind development in California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming (the 10 states with more than 90% of total installed wind power capacity) and concludes that sources for avian mortality can be ranked as follows:
collision with windows: 97-976 million
feral cats: 110 million
pesticides: 72 million
collision with communication towers: 4-50 million

The National Academy of Sciences (2007) put the estimate of wind farms' share in anthropogenic bird deaths at 0.003%.


So whatever valid argument you want to use against windpower (and there are quite a few, but this is the same for any energysource), avian mortality shouldn't be used. Go down that road and you'd have to prohibit fx the use of mobile phones or electricity generation in general. Or driving. Or agriculture.

As for windpower beeing just another money-spinning scheme... you're most likely right on that, sadly.

Have a nice day ;)
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