The avian and wildlife costs of fossil fuels and nuclear power

Journal Article

Title: The avian and wildlife costs of fossil fuels and nuclear power
Authors: Sovacool, B.
Publication Date:
December 12, 2012
Journal: Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
Volume: 9
Issue: 4
Pages: 255-278
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Document Access

Website: External Link


Sovacool, B. (2012). The avian and wildlife costs of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 9(4), 255-278.

Environmentalists and environmental scientists have criticized wind energy in various forums for its negative impacts on wildlife, especially birds. This article highlights that nuclear power and fossil-fuelled power systems have a host of environmental and wildlife costs as well, particularly for birds. Therefore, as a low-emission, low-pollution energy source, the wider use of wind energy can save wildlife and birds as it displaces these more harmful sources of electricity. The paper provides two examples: one relates to a calculation of avian fatalities across wind electricity, fossil-fueled, and nuclear power systems in the entire United States of America. It estimates that wind farms are responsible for roughly 0.27 avian fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while nuclear power plants involve 0.6 fatalities per GWh and fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 9.4 fatalities per GWh. Within the uncertainties of the data used, the estimate means that wind farm-related avian fatalities equated to approximately 46,000 birds in the United States of America in 2009, but nuclear power plants killed about 460,000 and fossil-fueled power plants 24 million. A second example summarizes the wildlife benefits from a 580-MW wind farm at Altamont Pass in California, a facility that some have criticized for its impact on wildlife. The paper lastly highlights other social and environmental benefits to wind farms compared to other sources of electricity and energy.

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