By Paul Lorenzini
In the yin and yang of energy policy debates, we know some can get carried away. Normally we ignore the radical fringe, but sometimes their claims take on a life of their own and need to be addressed. One such charge has found its way as an authoritative reference on Wipikedia, alleging that nuclear power causes more bird kills than wind. There we find a table alleging 0.269 avian deaths per GWh for wind turbines as compared to 0.416 for nuclear power plants. Given all the heat being taken by wind advocates over this issue, one can understand the desire to hit back, but this seemed a bit much. On close checking, it was.
The source is a study by one Benjamin Sovacool. Sovacool first published a report with these claims in 2009 while on the faculty at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Free downloads can be found here and here. In 2012 he published a second version, now being identified as a Visiting Associate Professor at the Vermont Law School and Senior Researcher for Energy Security and Justice at the Institute for Energy and the Environment.
So, how does one arrive at these counter-intuitive conclusions? There are two halves of the analysis, the impacts from nuclear power and the impacts from wind. Take nuclear power first.
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