1. In the last paragraph, I believe you meant to “It’s a major concern and is one reason we _stress_ the point by claiming wind is…” As written, I read it as nuclear advocates bias against wind when the remainder of the article indicates exactly the opposite.

    1. I might not have said it that well, but my point was it is a “stretch” to call wind “clean”, a word we use with no metric — it has impacts, bird kills being just one. Wind does have advantages — it also has big problems – frankly the visual and land use, as well as integration into the grid are the biggies IMO. But nuclear has its issues too. My whole point here was to expose and critique the mis-use of science in the public dialogue.

        1. Well, I find it interesting that in Paul’s attempt for “dialogue” he never once reached out to the actual authors of these studies (that’s me, by the way). What’s more, I wanted to let Atomic Insights readers know that Paul commits a series of factual errors and omissions in his own piece. I’ve written Rod Adams about writing a response, and if he lets me, I’ll look forward to engaging many of the readers below who seem to have decided they hate me without ever actually taking the time to read what I write …

          1. I’m writing this months after your above comment. I’ve read your rebuttal and the comments from readers about it, as well as the rebuttal to your rebuttal, and the comments from readers about it, and your rebuttal fared even worse than your original article.

            The internet is a powerful thing. All blog authors quickly learn from the well-informed intelligent commenters, to tell the truth or risk being called out for it. Your paper has simply been exposed to the light of day on the internet.

            Your many attempts to bias the results are now exposed. No big deal. You will not likely repeat the mistake.

  2. It looks like the 2012 publication is in published at http://www.tandfonline.com/ Their submission policy states that peer-review is at the discretion of the editors so we could not ascertain the peer-review status for this particular article. They do have a class of submission for “Review Article” which this blog post could possibly be massaged into and submitted to them for future publication. It would be interesting how their review process would be applied to that submission.

    1. Hi Robin, in the future you can always email the editors of any journal, or even the author himself, and simply ask if the piece was peer reviewed. In this case, it was. No need to “speculate” when you can just find out for real.

      1. If it was peer reviewed, you should have been crucified from what I gather. By lack of scientific methodology and while in the dark, you simply go straight to causality.

        What a joke.

    1. According to Paul’s research, Sovacool is currently working for the same people who fund Arjun Makhijani, Mark Cooper, and Peter Bradford

      1. It’s pretty clear that many, if not most 501(c)(3) organizations are in business to support revenue streams of various for profit enterprises. It should be a requirement that to hold the tax exempt status of a 501(c)(3) enterprise that their revenue sources be public.

        1. What?! Am I now funded by organizations I didn’t even know about? @ George, I am funded by my own ingenuity (or lack thereof). Unlike many members of this blog, I have no stake in the nuclear industry, or in the renewables or efficiency industry. I have received some research grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy, but in every instance this is money to do independent research. @ Rod, just because somebody takes a stance you don’t like does not mean they are suddenly funded by groups that you hate.

  3. Superb exposé!

    What immediate direct action, both personal and professional, can be done to “correct” such flawed or biased assertions? Wiki has a bad habit of “dumping” such.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. Hi James, well, to start, I’d avoid making flawed and biased assertions like those made by Paul, unless he was going for some level of existential irony. More on that if Rod lets me write a response.

  4. This whole issue seems a bit skewed when viewed within the larger context. How many birds die each year by colliding with buildings? Should we stop building skyscrapers and tear down all tall towers now?
    There is a price to pay for our civilization, yet this type of analysis ignores the bigger picture. I’m glad we as humans pay more attention to previously overlooked details, but it seems like these details are becoming the driving factors in policy making.

    1. Chris,

      I don’t think anyone would dispute that. But, the point is, we have, yet again, anti-nukes making completely false claims based on JUNK Science, and that getting picked up and run with by people. You’re correct that there are other sources of bird kills, that are far more significant than either nuclear power or wind turbines, but we can’t let stand a bogus claim that nuclear kills *more* birds per unit-energy.

  5. The bird kill number for Davis-Besse is false, it should be zero. I was the NRC Resident Inspector at Davis-Besse from 1984 to 1991. During that time, the plant licensee requested permission to end the required count of birds killed by collisions with the cooling tower. Permission was granted by the NRC because the evidence showed that there were no birds ever killed by collisions with the cooling tower. As for buildings, one of the bigger culprits for bird kills are the mirror-glass windows that are used for energy conservation. Birds flying toward the glass see no hazard, only their reflection in the glass. The reflection is assumed to be another bird that can be easily avoided. They hit the glass at full speed. When I worked at Fluor in Irvine, California I always saw at least one dead bird on the ground when I walked around the buildings at lunch time. Regular glass is probably less deadly to birds, but it doesn’t conserve energy.

    1. Interesting info. The only citation Sovacool gives for the Davis-Besse numbers is this testimony by Biewald. Biewald says after safety lights were installed in 1978, bird deaths decreased. By 1979 the bird deaths were reduced 79%. In other plants Biewald reported on, there were zero bird deaths. Apparently Davis Besse had zero bird deaths by the time you were there.

      Beiwald (who by the way was testifying for wind and against nuclear power) concluded “avian mortality resulting from collision with cooling towers is of small significance. A potential method of mitigating avian morality would be to illuminate natural draft cooling towers at night.” Sovacool ignored the evidence and conclusions in the source he cited.

    2. “As for buildings, one of the bigger culprits for bird kills are the mirror-glass windows that are used for energy conservation.”

      So in other words, to coin a phrase, “Green energy, black death.”

    3. @Donald Kosloff :

      I tried to locate a NRC document confirming what you say here, but couldn’t locate one that definitively confirm the mortality was lower after 1979 that the 51 killed birds identified then.

      I located amendment n°133 to the operating license issued in 1989 that removed the requirement to monitor bird collision : http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0212/ML021200273.pdf

      But it only specifically reference documents dating from 1979, 1980, 1981 about this, including a report entitled, “Cooling Towers as Obstacles in Bird Migrations” which confirms the Biewald testimony : http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=icwdmbirdcontrol

      Still if there actually was no kill at all after the latest light change, I’d like to find a reference about it, especially since it could serve as a reference for other plants about how efficient this can be to handle this problem.
      Do you believe the no kill report should be in some document released by the NRC ? Which on then ? I found references to the “Annual Environmental Operating Report” but can’t locate them on-line.

      I however did find some interesting references to the plant efficiently protecting local wildlife from human interference and helping it prosper : http://www.examiner.com/article/navarre-marsh-sits-protected-by-davis-besse-nuclear-power-station

      1. Actually I was excessively cautious here. The NRC amendment confirms there was no problem at that time, and the report shows two successive waves of improvement in the lighting to avoid kills, which had no yet had full impact at start of 1979, explaining why there was still a few death that year.

    4. Thanks Paul Lorenzini for this very interesting article, and Rod for hosting it. I’ve learned a lot.

      I also see dead birds at the foot of my place of work regularly – at least twice a year – which is also a reflective glass building. However, regardless of windturbines or reflective windows, I know that in the Netherlands the number one bird killer is domestic cats, as in many urbanised cat-loving countries.

      However, the large number of bat kills of wind turbines is worrying. We have a number of policies in my country to protect and encourage specifically bats, who have been dropping in numbers and are therefore now being stimulated, for example by adding architectural features to building that attract bats. I wonder what effect putting-up more on-shore windturbines (and rooftop mini-turbines) will have on the policies stimulating bats in my country. I’ve not found any literature evaluating the Dutch situation, yet.

    5. Hi Donald, these numbers are not my own, and come from Bruce Biewald. Here is the original source:

      “At Davis-Besse, extensive surveys for dead birds were conducted from fall 1972 to fall
      1979. Early morning surveys at the 152-m (499-ft-) tall cooling tower were made almost
      daily from mid-April to mid-June and from the first of September to late October. After
      the tower began operating in the fall of 1976, some dead birds were lost through the
      water outlets of the tower basin. A total of 1554 dead birds were found, an average of 196
      per year. The dead birds included 1222 at the cooling tower, 222 around Unit 1
      structures, and 110 at the meteorological tower. Most were night-migrating passerines,
      particularly warblers, vireos, and kinglets. Waterfowl that were abundant in nearby
      marshes and ponds suffered little collision mortality. Most collision mortalities at the
      cooling tower occurred during years when the cooling tower was not well illuminated
      (1974 to spring 1978).”

      1. The numbers were not your own? What does that mean? You didn’t count the birds yourself? Not to mention, those numbers should not have been used in the study when lighting resolved the problem.

  6. And what about the oil-for-ape scandal with palm oil to produce ‘bio diesel’ ?

    The result has been the destruction of habitat for dwindling species such as the orangutan.

    Bio fuel IS the most ridiculous idea mankind ever had.

    1. Yes it is. And it’s a good example of how some so-called green policies can quickly take on a life of their own, ignoring all evidence against them. In the EU, biofuels policy really started advancing ten years ago, and even at that time there was ample literature showing how it could never really pack much punch, which basically meant that it was going to demand far more and better (foreign) land to grow it than predicted. After the EU biofuels directive really started kicking in, an expected stream of negative reports about indirect land-use effects, high costs, low efficiency, biodiversity loss, food prices, etc, started coming in of course, but these were mostly ignored, for years. Only recently has EU biofuels policy started to be toned down and the negatives of the policy started to openly be debated.

      Even parties like Greenpeace have distanced themselves from supporting biofuels, while they were a firm supporter earlier on. Nowadays, Greenpeace only supports biofuels for stationary applications, and only if it is ‘really green’. This was surprising to me, because if we realise that biofuels are expensive and scarce, then why not reserve them for applications that really demand liquid fuels, such as air transport and defence? Using such a valuable and costly energy form for stationary applications seams exactly the *wrong* thing to do. However, the Greenpeace choice is based on the assumption that all transport will be electrified and that air flight will be minimised or phased out, which perhaps explains why they advocate that biofuels should be reserved for stationary power generation.

  7. I would not call this junk science.

    Using a Copper Mine, and a Fossil Fuel Plant as examples, and calling them Nuclear is plain and simple Fraud.

    Junk Science implies that there was simply bad methods used.

    Fraud implies that there was a direct intention to deceive on the part of the author.

    This I think has all the hall marks of the type of Fraud that major Eco Organizations have admitted to using in order to push their agenda.

  8. “In 2007 Sovacool co-edited Energy and American Society: Thirteen Myths”.

    Make that Fourteen.

  9. Birds? What about the planet !

    For the first time in history, we may cross the CO2 barrier of 400 ppm (parts par million) very very soon. Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief called for urgency yesterday.

    Machiavelli, who’s work is misunderstood by most, once said ‘As the physicians say it happens in hectic fever, that in the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time, not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult ot cure.’

    Needless to say at this point that Christina Figueres in encouraging countries to develop renewables on the fast track. (yeap! solar and wind and bio fuels)

    Like Christina will soon learn, in certain medical terms again, the operation was a complete success but the patient died.

    1. Fortunately for Mother Earth, Dr. Ben is riding to the rescue with more of his insightful research and analysis:
      “In 2012, Sovacool was invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be a contributing author to its Working Group II, which deals with climate change mitigation, to work on the forthcoming Fifth Assessment chapter “Rural Poverty and Livelihoods”

      If he gets his way, any surviving raptors will find the planet nuclear-free, but having to dodge the windustrial sprawl from legions of lethal diffuse-energy harvesting structures.
      See the latest YesVY.blogspot.com

      1. Not to mention the 200-300% increase in HV power lines req’d to connect all these diffuse-energy harvesting structures to the load.

    2. *Please …wind farms make effective bat filters, removing those pointy-eared disgusting bug-eating creatures from the night sky. Biofuel farms convert tangled, disorderly ecosystems into aesthetically pleasing biodiversity-free landscapes. Let’s put the biosphere out of its misery instead of letting it die a slow death from global warming.

      * Sarcasm alert

    1. Dan. what do you think the New York Times review on it will be?

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  10. If nuclear advocates were as unethical as Sovacool we could apply the bird kill rate of the BP blowout to all oil and gas production and “prove” that birds will soon become extinct.

    1. Also using Sovacools methods:

      Understanding that Birds Fly & that there is a species of Fish called the Flying Fish we can then logically deduce that all Fish are birds and that the number of fish killed during the BP Blow out can be taken as the average yearly Bird Kill Rate for all Coal Mines on the Planet.

  11. One way to study the relative frequency of bird and bat kills from various causes would be to attach gps tracking devices to samples birds and bats. This would help to solve the problem of the evidence disappearing after the kills as a result of the bodies being carried away. The devices themselves could have some effect of the outcome, however the effect should become less as the devices become smaller as a result of improved technology. The main question is how expensive would it be to carry out the studies?

    1. @Bill Chaffee

      I think you might have missed the real reason that Paul wrote this piece. I don’t think it is about bird kills, but about the invalid science that has been used as a weapon against nuclear energy. It is just an example of poor assumptions, invalid sources, and incorrect analysis that underlies such work. Though it would be a lot of work, similar exposes could be written about Storm-Smith, the 100% renewables models of Mark Z. Jacobson, and the massive body of “negawatts” work done by Amory Lovins and his minions over the past 40 years.

      1. Well Armory and his minions from Friends of the Earth are outraged at the land that’s being taken away from Orangoutan apes in Borneo to grow palm oil.

        Well who was behind growing food for fuel in the first place ?

        Enough said.

      2. Thanks Rod — you got it right. This is not about bird kills — it is about calling out those who make false claims and distort the debate.

      3. “[…]and the massive body of “negawatts” work done by Amory Lovins and his minions over the past 40 years.”

        Don’t you mean negawork?

  12. Who needs brained birds to create a stacked deck of anti responses to a nuclear article — whose comments are now closed (from any pro nuclear responses?). check out the gallery of mass fear in the feedback below! Care to tally up the pros and cons — and imagine if it were a petition! Then of course this is the rabidly anti-nuclear Times — where all that’s FUD and scary is fit to print!


    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. I just read the same article in the Dutch paper Volkskrant. Interesting (and disappointing) that they just translated it. No need for journalism, copy-paste is all that’s required. Joris, have you ever been successful in getting a comment on an article in the printed edition? My efforts have been ignored by them, other than a ‘thank you but no thanks’ e-mail.

  13. Errrrr @#$@#$!!!!!

    Wow…what a topic. Most in the pro-nuclear community early on stopped using the ‘wind turbines = bird mills”. Not because they didn’t kill birds…the build out of wind turbines has killed hundreds of thousands of birds a year. So what? There are 300,000,000 birds in the US and only a few are endangered.

    The issue ARE those endangered species, such as the California Condor and, bats, which are endangered. But by and large, we got bigger things to worry about than…I can NOT believe I’m writing this…birds crashing into cooling towers. Amazing.

    1. I watched the vidio bird vs wind turbine again and then I read the comment “he was just trying to ride the same thermals coming up the hill the wind turbine was” and then I watched the vidio again.
      I didn’t see the eagle flap it’s wings a single time.

  14. Sovacool’s other work regarding the CO2 grams per kWh from nuclear also deserve scrutiny. He comes from the same crowd as Storm van Leeuwen, Vermont Law school, et al.

  15. Sovacool has built his career lying about nuclear. I remember him from years ago, writing antinuclear columns in the Asian press while he was a professor in Singapore.

    For example:

    To their credit, the newspapers that ran his columns would also print letters
    and rebuttals.

    You can find many more that document his bias, such as:


  16. Here are a few interesting details in the Sovacool meta study on LCAs for CO2 from nuclear power (2008):
    * A common misunderstanding is that out of the 103 LCAs considered, Sovacool only uses 19 of them after various levels of scrutiny (one may questions how he makes the scrutiny).
    * The approach to divide the fuel cycle emissions into categories such as “Frontend”, “Construction”, “Operation”, etc is a quite nice one in order to be able to use the results from different LCAs with different boundary conditions. Too bad that he didn’t follow it through correctly, there are several examples where he seems to have put the number in different categories quite arbitrarily.
    * 3 of the 19 studies are different versions of the criticized Storm van Leeuwen, whose analyses tend to be much higher than anybody elses.
    * The study by Barnaby and Kemp is a 56 page booklet with the title “SECURE ENERGY?
    CIVIL NUCLEAR POWER, SECURITY AND GLOBAL WARMING”. One chapter in it is written by Storm van Leeuwen and is in fact the same study as one of the other 3 already included by Sovacool. So 4 of the 19 studies are by Storm van Leeuwen…
    * The study by Fritsche & Lim has CO2 emissions at 31 g/kWh. It also reports CO2e where other greenhouse gases have been included. Together with CO2 the total for CO2e is 33 g/kWh. Sovacool must have been quite exhausted by now, having to come up with ways how to discard so many LCAs and how to include some other LCAs several times, that he added the numbers for CO2 and CO2e together, resulting in 64 g/kWh instead of 33.
    * The study by Tokimatsu reports CO2 emissions and how they have varied over time, mainly due to different mining and enriching methods. Sovacool, by now very tired, does not have the energy to read the paper carefully, and decides to take an average of the value from the 1960s (200 g/kWh) and the present value (10 g/kWh) instead of doing a reality check.

    There are probably more interesting details to discover in the paper.

  17. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and France’s Areva have won the no 2 reactor in Turkey.

    I cannot find out what model it is ? Is it the Areva EPR or a M’bishi model ?

  18. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and France’s Areva have won a bid for a nuclear plant in Turkey.

    I cannot find what the proposed reactor model is. Would anyone know ?

    1. If it ‘s AREVA and Mitsubishi, then the design has to be the APWR.

        1. That particular design hasn’t been built anywhere, as far as I can recall, but it’s based on proven technology. This is one of the “new” designs that doesn’t push the technology envelope. It’s basically a beefed-up version of a late Gen-2 PWR, if my memory serves correctly.

          1. Brian,

            I know that with the waste confidence issue, the NRC postponed some reactor certifications that were imminent a year ago.

            I think 2 are overdue and still I cannot find a target date for their approval on the NRC site.

            I am referring to the EPR for Areva and the ESBWR from Hitachi. I am hearing that everything is basically finished.

            Is MacFarlane a staller as well ?

          2. I don’t know, since I’m not involved with either project, but the best advice I can give is don’t hold your breath.

      1. It’s actually the ATMEA :

        See description here : http://www.atmea-sas.com/scripts/ATMEA/publigen/content/templates/Show.asp?P=57&L=EN

        I’ve seen it frequently described as a scaled down version of the EPR in France, and it uses a similar core catcher mechanism for security, but actually I don’t know how much of the Mitsubishi APWR heritage it has in it’s genes.

        1. Rod – I must have been tired when I wrote that comment. I knew the name, but tripped up on two names that begin with “a.”

          Anyhow, one problem is that AREVA keeps changing the names of its products. The PWR is based on Mitsubishi’s APWR (scaled down, with some features from the EPR thrown in). The BWR used to be called the “SWR,” and I’m still not used to the new name.

      2. Brian,

        More on this today :

        Turkey stands to be the first country to use the Atmea1 reactor design by Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). An accord signed today could see four of the units deployed at Sinop in the early 2020s.

        Never heard of an Atmea1 …

  19. Advocates of wind always argue that there are billions of birds deaths each year from human causes and that the number added by windmills are insignificant. Mother Jones recently ran a snide article comparing the 440,000 birds killed annually by windmills to the 2.4 billion killed by household cats. [http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/01/chart-cats-vs-turbines] But cats are killing sparrows and chickadees and other birds that are common. Windmills are killing large, migratory birds such as hawks, condors and eagles. You’d think people who are concerned about endangered species would be able to make such a distinction.

    1. I’ve heard of the 2.4 billion birds killed by cats figure before so I was curious about how accurate that figure could be. There are around 60 million cats in the USA so if that bird kill figure is correct that comes to 200 birds per cat per year. That seems like an awfully prolific bird kill rate, at least 4 per week.

      1. Wind Turbines kill eagles, passerines, and bats. species that cats, feral or otherwise won’t go near. One wind project in Pennsylvania shuts down its turbines at night after it was determined that it was killing an endangered species of bat. Bat populations in the US are currently being devastated by the “white nose” fungus. Bats are Nature’s pesticide, it has been calculated the one bat is equivalent to $74 of chemical pesticide over the course of a growing season. 80% of the nesting Red Tail eagle population in the Atamont Pass where killed by the turbines.

  20. After 10 years of dithering the offshore Massachusetts’ Cape Wind project has gotten the green light.
    Bottom line 2.6 Billion dollars begets 468 megawatts before capacity factor considerations while 311 Million dollars invested in a Combined Cycle Natural Gas plant generates 570 megawatts. It doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to come to the conclusion that the Cape Wind project is untenable. This is a Son of Solyndra project. It gets better, if you plug in capacity factor, a measure of the percentage of time the project is actually producing electricity, Cape Wind will actually produce 143 megawatts compared to 485 megawatts for the CCNG plant. Absent subsidies and mandates commercial sized wind and solar installations would be built

    1. @John

      The context of your comment indicates to me that there is a word missing in your last sentence. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think you really meant to say:

      “Absent subsidies and mandates NO commercial sized wind and solar installations would be built.”

      1. Correct, I still am floundering with the text edit function on the MAC. I’ve read a very detailed article in the New York Times Science and Environment section which outlines the subsidies that are applied to a major solar installation in California. It’s mind boggling. Look up “Stacking Energy Subsidies…” NY Times Nov. 2011 and read the attending article.

  21. “Wind Turbines kill eagles, passerines, and bats, species that cats, feral or otherwise won’t go near.”

    Most of the birds that cats kill are passerines such as sparrows, chickadees, warblers and other small birds found in gardens.

    I don’t know what the figures are for different groups of birds killed by wind turbines. It would be difficult to measure the deaths of sea birds from off-shore turbines.

    1. Wind turbines kill avians and bats just like the banning and curtailing of DDT usage has murdered 100 million inhabitants of the Sub Sahara a la “The Silent Spring”. The point is not only is your modern environmentalist inhuman they are also economically illiterate.

      1. Depending on definition, we are all environmentalists, so who exactly it is you are calling inhumane is rather vague. Many who promote nuclear energy do so because of it is less environmentally destructive than most other energy sources.

        Also, DDT use was never banned in Sub Sahara Africa.



  22. There is a de facto ban on people with disablities running for public office. See my posts on Friends for Fullerton’s Future.

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