While doing my research on wind turbines, I’ve come across a number of writers who have produced consistently well-thought-out analyses of different aspects of them. These articles are of course included in the appropriate categories, and in addition I am spotlighting them here on an individual basis.
Grid integration is the study of how the output from the wind turbines can be successfully sent into the grid. Unfortunately it is a topic I don’t have enough knowledge about to even evaluate the papers each side presents. One thing is clear, however, as the penetration of wind energy into the grid continues to increase, the balancing act the grid operators have to do becomes more intensive. Continue reading Grid Integration
How do jurisdictions come up with the rules in the first place? Neither Canada nor the U.S. have any national standards for noise control, so at best it is left up to the states/provinces. Most states have at least basic frameworks for noise limits, but their standards and how rigidly they are pressed onto local governments varies widely. So far it has mostly fallen on local governments to set standards for their communities. Without local standards the state standards (which are typically minimums) are used. Continue reading Noise Regulations Primer
In this section I will zero in on the ways the complexities of the Noise Basics and the looseness of the Noise Regulations allow the wind industry, abetted by the government, to legally destroy people’s homes and health. Some may consider the previous sentence pretty strong, but after all the truly sad stories I’ve read – numbering in the hundreds, from all around the world – I think it is entirely justified. Continue reading Noise Regulations Problems
If you understand, for example, what LCeq10 is you can probably skip this primer on noise. If you don’t you ought to read through this, otherwise you won’t fully appreciate the nature of the issues. I won’t go into that much detail, but some understanding of basic principles is needed to fully appreciate how noise regulations are structured, and where their weaknesses might be. My discussions, being reality and evidence based necessarily become somewhat technical. Continue reading Noise Basic Acoustics
The final word on how well all these rules work must be the experiences of the neighbors. If their sleep is disturbed, or they are physically suffering, or they can no longer have an outdoor barbecue, or they can no longer sever and build – you cannot in good conscience argue that the rules are adequate. You just can’t. Perhaps you could argue that wind turbines represent a greater good and thus this is a price society is willing to pay. If that is so, then that price should fall on society, not on the individuals. After all, their home is very likely a large part of their assets and the loss of it is often is a real life-changing event. Unfortunately, as the number of projects increases and the turbines get closer to people’s houses, the number of complaints keeps rising. Many of these reports are just heart-rending and are referenced below. Continue reading Noise Complaints
In my Emissions Summary I stated my core position was there has been no demonstration, with real numbers off a real grid, that wind energy actually reduces emissions. Further there are good reasons why there may be no reductions at all. This post goes into more details about those good reasons.
First, some background on the operation of the electric grid. For all practical purposes the grid itself has no capability to store electricity in any useful amount. The generation must match, on almost a second-by-second basis, the demand at all times. This matching of supply and demand is critically important to the stability of the grid – if it is done badly, the customers will experience the effects very quickly, in the form of brownouts or worse. Almost needless to say, a steady supply of electricity is one of the fundamentals of an industrialized society; our standard of living takes a very quick drop if the supply isn’t available when we need it. Continue reading Emissions Savings Details
- K. deGroot ,Hidden Fuel Costs of Wind Generated Energy is part one of a well-reasoned critique of the wind industry’s emissions numbers.
- K. deGroot,The impact of wind generated electricity on fossil fuel consumption is part two and proceeds with the facts.
- Kent Hawkins Papers. There are 5 of them in this series, detailing why the savings are much less than the industry says. This is serious stuff, but thankfully Kent is a good writer. The comments are also very worthwhile, and come from some names you might recognize.
- Peter Lang’s paper, 0.2mb, a very well researched study of why CO2 savings are much more expensive and much smaller than other alternatives. Lang’s article led to other interesting discussions and followups.
- Bratby Evidence, 160kb gives a well-reasoned analysis of England’s ongoing efforts to cut its CO2.
- Halkema paper, 1.4mb can serve as a primer, not too technical, of the weaknesses of wind energy.
- Beitzel Letter, 0.1mb, an extremely well-written analysis of carbon “savings” from a Maryland delegate to their power commission. It encapsulates many of the same ideas that I’ve presented here, and mentions Hewson and Lang.
- Tom Adams, 0.1mb, on, paradoxically, the value of coal in keeping emissions down.
- Oswald, 1.4mb, a study of Britain’s energy plans.
- Hewson article, 0.8mb from a power generation trade magazine with another look at CO2 savings.
- IESO Forecastion Paper, 0.3mb, some initial thoughts on how they would handle forecasting discrepencies.
- Hewson paper, references Lang and comes to a similar conclusion.
- Schlesinger and Hirsch, originally in the Washington Post.
- Kent Hawkins Paper, Kent lives in neighboring Prince Edward County and has produced very well-researched papers, this one an analysis of Ontario’s electric system. If you want to dig into the details, even more than I have presented, here’s your chance.
- Howe Commentary, 0.4mb, shows CO2 benefits of wind, but notice how they calculate the savings.
- Ausbel Nuclear Heresies, 0.6mb, pro-nuc, but a review of CO2 issues.
- Estonia CO2 Reductions, 0.3mb, a look at their circumstances.
- Jones Letter, 0.1mb, an engineer’s opinion piece in The Toronto Star.
- REF Paper, 0.5mb Written by David White, it presents the case for CO2 savings being much less than intuition would predict. A major work, referenced often.
- Too Good To Be True, 0.1mb Also written by David White, it presents an analysis of Denmark’s operations.
- EPRI paper, 2007, 1.5mb Complete Portfolio.
- Less is More, 0.5mb Written by Jon Boone.
- A Bill of Goods, 0.5mb Written by Jon Boone.
- Global Wind Energy Council Paper, 3.6mb This is a typical wind energy industry brochure, well written on the surface but if you read carefully you find that everything in here is assertion.
- UK intermittency, 4.1mb, the large and important UKREC study, that reviews the evidence. Unfortunately, just as the U.S.’s NREL is compromised by politics, so is the UKREC. Still, it has valuable information.
- AWEO Article
- Stelling report, 0.3mb, covers many issues, including CO2.
While the proponents tend to emphasize research that was not written by doctors, especially doctors out in the field, opponents point to the reports from neighbors and a relative handful of doctors who have seen enough to be convinced there’s something to the complaints. The earliest major report of medical problems came from Dr. Harry in England. While there are have been other scattered reports of health problems in Europe, recently most of the reports have come from Canada, the U.S., Australia, NZ and Japan. These reports number into the hundreds and are very consistent, to the point where they can’t all be part of some conspiracy. These newer countries seem to be less careful with the health of residents than Europe is, plus Europe was early in the game and the turbines are now much larger. Probably the most notable agitator is Dr. Pierpont from New York, with her book entitled Wind Turbine Syndrome. Other prominent doctors include McMurtry from Canada and Nissenbaum from Maine. First I’ll go through a sampling of complaints and then I’ll dive into the doctors’ papers. Continue reading Health Arguments of Opponents
Proponents steadfastly deny any health effects from wind turbines. I’ll start with a look at some of the papers proponents hold up as proof that there are no health effects of wind turbines. Then I’ll look at a typical “myth” statement on CanWEA’s web site which is typical of “myths” you can find on all the WEA’s sites. Then I’ll segue into a look at a prominent proponent’s pretty scary mind. Continue reading Health Arguments of Proponents
Of all the issues surrounding wind power, the effect of wind turbines on wildlife is one of the most depressing. If we humans want to destroy ourselves, that’s one thing. But to destroy so many other of Nature’s creatures is truly arrogant. Birds and more recently bats have been in the news, but there have been enough reports of all sorts of wildlife abandoning of habitat around wind turbines that I’ve become genuinely concerned we really don’t (again) know what we’re doing. Continue reading Wildlife Summary
While industry-supported property value studies tend to use regression analysis over a large “view shed”, opponent studies tend to use observations from brokers and appraisers. These studies are thus criticized by the industry for not being “scientific” enough. Here are the main opponent-sited studies, and I’ll let you decide where you’d put your money. I know where I’d put mine. Continue reading Property Value Arguments of Opponents
As mentioned elsewhere, wind energy proponents have been eager to show their turbines don’t lower house prices. There have been three major studies sponsored by the industry to make this claim. I say “appear” because to be technical that isn’t the claim they are making. Most of these studies show decreases in value. The claim they are making is that these decreases are not statistically significant, and to the casual reader (which sadly includes most politicians and reporters) it is easy to jump from one assertion to the other. As an example, the REPP Report concludes “…the results point to the same conclusion: the statistical evidence does not support a contention that property values within the view shed of wind developments suffer…” Continue reading Property Value Arguments of Proponents
To simplify it, there are three main ways to analyze house prices, in decreasing accuracy. This is a very quick recap of them. Continue reading Property Valuation Methods
I can still remember my initial looks at the web sites of wind industry proponents like AWEA and CanWEA. Their copy certainly looked impressive, with all that certainty, all those references and my intuitive sense that wind energy was a good thing. Then I made the mistake of actually following through to the references and right away the “wait-a-minute” flags started flying. I may have no experience in the energy industry, but I do have a scientific bent and I’m pretty good at detecting nonsense when I see it. And boy did I see it! I cannot remember when I’ve seen a major industry so consistently present such crappy evidence, regardless of the particular topic. Their talk of “sound science” is truly Orwellian. Intrigued, I dug deeper and the result is this web site. I’ve gathered some of the most egregious examples below.
The issue of wind turbines and their effect upon nearby property values has long been a contentious one, and for good reason. We generally accept the “wisdom of the market”, and if wind turbines are as disruptive as opponents claim, surely this would show up in market prices of nearby properties. Opponents, politicians and wind developers can make all sorts of statements about noise, flicker, birds and so on, but talk is cheap. House prices, on the other hand, can be quite dear, and there’s no easy or cheap way to hide the effect of wind turbines on house prices if in fact there is an effect. Plus house prices can serve as a single and quantitative proxy for all the effects that wind turbines may have on the neighbors. Continue reading Property Values Summary
For me noise is the largest issue, and consequently the one I’ve spent the most time researching. I go into more details below and in additional posts, but if you don’t want to wade into them, experience has shown that wind turbines can be much louder than advertised. In Ontario, for example, when the complaints come in and actual measurements are taken, the projects have always been out of compliance, page 8 with Ontario’s rules. It seems to depend on the conditions, and the unfavorable conditions can be quite common. Generally North American jurisdictions do not provide adequate protection for homeowners, and as new projects are brought online the number of complaints and people being forced out of their houses is growing alarmingly. Continue reading Noise Summary
The issue of health effects of wind turbines is a late addition to my research. I’ve held off because, although the noise, flicker, vibration etc of turbines could conceivably cause health problems, the evidence I’ve seen until recently has not been totally persuasive. A number of people living close to turbines have complained about these various effects, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to health problems. Unfortunately, over time, the evidence is building up. More and more doctors are starting to speak out about the symptoms they’ve noticed and how they seem to be directly related to turbine exposure. Continue reading Health Summary
Aside from carbon emission savings, another intuitive benefit of wind energy would be to improve the performance of the current electrical grid – things like closing fossil fuel plants and improving the security of our supply. As usual, the devil is in the details. I am no expert on the electrical grid, but from my research the ability of wind power to join the current grid has three general aspects: reliable supply (or Capacity Credit), grid integration, and delivery during peak demand. I have separate posts on each of them. If you don’t want to wade into the details, I can safely summarize that wind energy has in practice been a pain for the grid operators, and provides little, if any, benefits. Continue reading Grid Integration Summary
One of the advantages wind energy proponents claim for their industry is “energy security”. Everyone knows we import large amounts of oil, and thus the claim seems plausible. Who wants to be “hostage” to a potentially unfriendly foreign government? But even a cursory look at the energy market shows that there is little connection between wind turbines and oil imports, while there is a big connection between wind turbines and other resources that are controlled almost entirely by China. Continue reading Energy Security Summary