wind turbines kill birds - note

People who oppose wind farms often claim wind turbines kill birds, and claim large numbers of birds are killed. They often refer to them as “bird choppers”. Claims of dangers to iconic or rare birds, especially raptors, have attracted a lot of attention. The Conversation published an article in 2017 that wind turbine farms are not the bird shredders many assume. and while it confirmed wind turbine blades do indeed kill birds and bats, their contribution to total bird deaths is extremely low. They reported on 3 studies. Wind turbine farms are an integral part of renewable Energy and offshore wind is part of this.

The impact of wind farms on bird populations has long been a contentious issue and efforts to mitigate it have given rise to a range of preventative technologies, including radar detection systems that monitor bird flight and adjust the operation of wind turbines to help avoid collisions. So what is the causes of bird deaths? Are there solutions to reduce bird deaths more?

Wind Turbines Kill Birds 2000 times less than Fossil Fuel Plants

The Conversation concluded that bird kills from wind turbines do occur, but much less than other causes of bird deaths. One measure is the rate per GWh of electricity generation.

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-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh. (15 times more)

Wind farms killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fuelled power plants 14.5 million. (i.e. nuclear and fossil fuel plants killed 2118 birds more than wind farms)

Sovacool B. 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.ol 2007 https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/enepol/v37y2009i6p2241-2248.html

Black Blade on Wind Turbines Kills Birds 70% less.

In a study conducted over 10 years at a 68MW wind farm on the Norwegian archipelago of Smøla, the research team found an average of nearly 72% reduction in annual bird fatality rate at painted turbines, compared to non-painted control turbines. (From Renew Economy 2022).

Trials are underway in Australia – see https://reneweconomy.com.au/researchers-find-black-and-white-solution-to-wind-turbine-bird-deaths-96526/

Bird deaths caused by humans

CAUSE OF BIRD DEATHALL BIRDSCONTRIBUTION TO
TOTAL HUMAN-RELATED BIRD DEATHS
Cats (feral)79,600,0001 in 2.3
Cats (domestic)54,880,0001 in 3.4
Power line collisions16,810,0001 in 11.1
Buildings (houses)16,390,0001 in 11.4
Road vehicle collisions9,814,0001 in 19
Harvest (game birds)2,817,0001 in 66.2
Buildings (low, mid & high rise)1,317,1301 in 141.5
Commercial forestry887,8351 in 210
Power electrocutions184,3001 in 1,011.6
Agriculture (haying & mowing)135,4001 in 1,376.9
Communication tower collisions101,5001 in 1,836.7
Wind energy collisions13,0601 in 14,275
All other3,479,3281 in 53.6
Total186,429,553100
 Avian Conservation and Ecology in 2013 by scientists from Canada’s Environment Canada, Wildlife Research Division
Quoted in https://theconversation.com/wind-farms-are-hardly-the-bird-slayers-theyre-made-out-to-be-heres-why-79567?

Carbon Brief Data

Carbon Brief infographic is below. Reference https://www.carbonbrief.org/bird-death-and-wind-turbines-a-look-at-the-evidence/

do wind turbines kill birds. Yes and 2000 times less than fossil fuel plants
Source: A. Manville, US Fish and Wildlife Service https://www.fws.gov/library/collections/threats-birds

Bird Protection Societies Support Wind Power

Bird Protection Societies such as the UK Royal Society for Protection of Birds generally supports wind power – not because wind farms pose a lower risk to birds than other energy sources – but because in its view climate change poses the “single greatest long-term threat” to bird species. Climate change is predicted to harm bird populations by affecting breeding or migration patterns, or altering their habitats.

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