The Moore Charitable Foundation
Energy Siting Resource Library

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

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.

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