September 24, 2007

Wind turbines and noise

From abstracts of papers presented at the Wind Turbine Noise 2007 conference, Sept. 20-21, Lyon, France:

"In wind turbines the drive train, especially the gear box, is a significant source of noise. Significant contributions come from the gear mesh and from resonances of the structure like the main frame or the torque arm. The structure-borne noise from these sources is transferred either to the rotor or to the tower and radiated to the environment. The contributions to the noise spectrum from these sources are single tones in the frequency range from about 100 Hz to about 600 Hz."

--paper describing passive and active vibration absorbers manufactured by the German company ESM

"The larger proportion of the general population who live far from them think wind turbines are great -- while the smaller proportion representing people with homes near where wind turbines were subsequently erected have concerns, particularly about noise. On a popular vote basis, as seen by elected officials, the choice is clear, but on a justice basis, who looks out for the impacted few? ...

"The results for one wind farm, the Kingsbridge wind farm near Goderich Ontario, which has the closest distance between the wind turbines and the Environment Canada weather office monitoring station, show that about 31% of the hours of the year show an unmasked noise output above the Ontario Standard, and for nearly 10% of the hours of the year, the noise is significantly above the provincial standard (over 3 dBA), in many cases about 10 dBA above the background level produced by the wind at the receptor. In the 6 months from October 2006 to March 2007, on 64% of the days, there were hours of unmasked noise. This demonstrated the problem to be chronic and significant in nature. For another Ontario wind farm, the results in the summer period between May 1st and August 31st, 2006 showed 59% of the days demonstrated the problem, with it occurring 48% of the nights, and 33% of the nights showing the condition sustained for 3 or more hours. ...

"The presentation will go through the results in detail. They will show that the current Ontario interpretation by the Ministry of the Environment is not adequate to protect the public from excessive annoyance."

--William K. G. Palmer, Canada

"Previous studies have shown that wind turbine noise could be annoying at sound pressure levels lower than those known to be annoying for other community noise sources, such as road traffic. This could be due to the special characteristics of wind turbine noise (amplitude modulation) that make the sound easily perceptible. It could furthermore be due to atmospheric situations influencing large modern wind turbines more than older ones, leading to higher sound exposure than accounted for in the planning process."

--Eja Pedersen, Sweden, and Jelte Bouma, Roel Bakker, and Frits van den Berg, the Netherlands

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, human rights, animal rights

September 22, 2007

Save the Rupert River from hydro and wind power

To members of the Save the Rupert coalition:

I am in complete solidarity with your opposition to yet more destruction of the James Bay region by Hydro-Québec.

I must, however, note that wind power, although it certainly should have been mentioned in the EIA, is not a viable or desirable alternative.

And like big hydro, which was initially considered to be green and turned out not to be, big wind is not green, either.

At $1.5 million per installed megawatt, the alternative wind projects represent perhaps 3,000 megawatts of nameplate capacity. The American Wind Energy Association's "rule of thumb" for onshore wind turbines is that they require 60 acres of clearance for every installed megawatt.

So the alternative to a 135-square-mile hydro reservoir would be 280 square miles of wind turbines.

Along with the impacts of clearing, heavy-duty roads, and massive steel and concrete platforms, the environmental toll would continue with a broad spectrum of noise that disturbs wildlife (and people), and blades sweeping up to 2 acres of vertical airspace at tip speeds of 150-200 mph that kill substantial numbers of birds, bats, and insects.

The adverse impacts of large-scale wind power are increasingly documented, including by some of the groups in the Save The Rupert coalition. Again, like big hydro, big wind can no longer be thought of as green.

Furthermore, wind is an intermittent and variable energy source, which requires balancing by other sources. The ideal partner for wind is hydro. In fact, wind is likely the reason for the Rupert River project. Hydro-Québec recently called for offers to provide 2,000 megawatts of wind power (they received almost 8,000 MW of proposals). If those projects were to be built, adding to the hundreds of megawatts already installed in Québec, they would need new balancing power from another source.

Thus the company's need for new hydro capacity -- not to provide needed electricity (which, as you say, is not in fact necessary), but to make wind viable so that they can profit from the unwarranted perception that it is a green alternative.

Again, wind is not an alternative to the Rupert River project but the reason for it.

I join you in opposing this latest assault on wilderness. And hope that you also oppose the same assault by wind power projects.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

September 21, 2007

Sibylline gesture

The first image is from 1473 Ulm, Germany. The second is a painting by Dirck van Baburen from the 1600s. They are both found in From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, by Marina Warner (1994).

September 19, 2007

Around the world: two days of the wind energy depredation news

India: Vultures hounded by windmills

Suthari village in Abrasa Taluka, Kutch, used to have 10 to 15 nests of the white backed vultures till a couple of years ago. This year, just a lone nest has been found. Where once there were more than 70 birds, now only 10 to 15 remain. When birdwatchers got together to look for a possible reason for the sudden drop in number of these birds, they attributed it to the wind farms that have come up in the area in the last year. ... In India, no Environmental Impact Assessment is done before setting up windmills as they are [presumed to be] a source of clean energy.

California: Riverside County supervisors doubt necessity of bird-safety rules

Two supervisors in Riverside County, one of California’s top producers of wind energy, want the region to be exempt from new statewide guidelines aimed at reducing the deaths of hawks, bats, owls, and other animals from windmills.

Illinois: Study puts focus on bird deaths by wind turbines

Despite proof that birds and bats are being killed by the rotating blades of wind turbines, a new state report says more studies are needed to determine if anything should be done about it.

Scotland: Council accused of ripping up rulebook over windmills plan

Wind turbines will be built close to a road and a stone circle after councillors over-ruled policies set out to prevent their construction on sensitive sites. The decision paves the way for a Turriff pig farmer to diversify his business with income from three 262ft-high windmills.

Iowa: Wind turbines raise some legal questions for landowners

Roger McEowen, an extension specialist at Iowa State University, says wind energy farming presents legal issues landowners need to carefully consider before entering into an agreement with developers.

India: Maharashtra ignoring tribal rights over forest land

Senior leaders of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and the Janata Dal, N. D. Patil and Mrinal Gore on Tuesday alleged that the Maharashtra government was favouring companies over the rights of poor Adivasis in Dhule district. ... Since January, there have been several protests in Dhule over the allotment of forest land for wind energy projects. Earlier this month the government issued notices to extern five activists championing the cause of the Adivasis and ban their entry into Dhule and four other districts.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism

Wind energy on the grid is not green

An associate has written to the Climate Trust's, regarding their support of wind energy green tags from Bonneville Environmental Foundation:

"The electricity generated by the co-funded wind facility displaced electricity that otherwise would have been generated by burning fossil fuel at other power plants."

That may or may not be the case (if the amount of wind is a small enough percentage, the grid most likely just allows the line voltage to rise withing tolerable limits). Isn't the true measure, however, the amount of fuel burning that is reduced? The calculation of displacement has to account for: 1) the preference of hydro to balance wind; 2) switching thermal plants to standby, in which they still burn fuel to stay warmed up and ready to switch back to generation; 3) the extra fuel necessary for more frequent ramping or less efficient operation of those plants that are able to switch more quickly; and 4) the likelihood that the addition of wind energy is simply absorbed as a tolerable rise in line voltage.

These factors may explain why there is no evidence from anywhere in the world that wind energy on the grid actually reduces fossil fuel use or emissions, despite more than a decade of extensive experience, and casts serious doubt on wind's green credentials.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

September 18, 2007

A couple wind energy quotes from insiders

"We have three windmill parks in Norway, and we have pinpointed two countries to look for building more wind parks, that's the U.K. and Sweden. That's mainly because of the green certificate market they have there." --Ragnvald Nærø, executive vice president of communications, Statkraft (Sweden)

"The US Department of Energy said that you would need to cover four states with wind farms to supply America's energy needs." --Jim Dehlsen, chairman and CEO, Clipper (U.S.)

wind power, wind energy

September 14, 2007

Threat to fungi, worms, and insects from wind turbines

A Scottish news story yesterday publicized concerns being raised about the effect of industrial wind turbine noise and vibration might have on "our tiniest and rarest creatures". Click the title of this post for the article archived at National Wind Watch.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism

September 11, 2007

Disappearance of wildlife around wind turbines

At most wind energy projects, people have noticed a decline in wildlife, presumably because of the noise disturbance. Don Woods continues:

I have also noticed a steep decline of almost all other wildlife in this area. Deer and turkey populations have declined by about 80% since the turbine installation. I firmly believe they are having adverse health effects on the local citizens, myself included. There are many, many unknowns about the problems of wind farms that definitely need to be addressed by the proper authorities before it becomes impossible to stop them, if it isn't already! Specifically, the problems associated with low frequency vibrations. If the moth decline is due to wind turbines it is very serious. This could cause a total collapse of the ecosystem to include the whole food chain. It is definitely worthy of further study.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont

September 9, 2007

Disappearance of moths around wind turbines

Don Woods writes:

I live in the Appalachian mts. of West Virginia. My property borders the vast Monongehela natl. forest. Each year we delight in the hundreds of different moth species we observe here. For some unknown reason they seem to be on a serious decline over the past 5 years or so, to the point of near extinction this year. Last weekend after 4 hrs with the outside lights on not a single moth of any kind was seen! We do not know if the forest service has possibly been spraying for gypsy moth infestation and killed all moth species. Is that possible or might there be some other reason for their disappearance? Recently giant wind turbines have been erected in this area at about the same time the moths started to disappear.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights,