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Resource Documents: Environment (211 items)

RSSEnvironment

Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  September 9, 2017
Environment, U.S.Print storyE-mail story

Footprint of Energy: Land Use of U.S. Electricity Production

Author:  Stevens, Landon

Modern society requires a tremendous amount of electricity to function, and one of this generation’s greatest challenges is generating and distributing energy efficiently. Electricity generation is energy intensive, and each source leaves its own environmental and ecological footprint. Although many studies have considered how electricity generation impacts other aspects of the environment, few have looked specifically at how much land different energy sources require.

This report considers the various direct and indirect land requirements for coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar electricity generation in the United States in 2015. For each source, it approximates the land used during resource production, by energy plants, for transport and transmission, and to store waste materials. Both one-time and continuous land-use requirements are considered. Land is measured in acres and the final assessment is given in acres per megawatt.

Specifically, this report finds that coal, natural gas, and nuclear power all feature the smallest physical footprint: about 12.5 acres per megawatt produced. Solar and wind are much more land-intensive technologies, using 43.5 and 70.6 acres per megawatt, respectively. Hydroelectricity generated by large dams has a significantly larger footprint than any other generation technology, using 315.2 acres per megawatt.

While this report does not attempt to comprehensively quantify land requirements across the entire production and distribution chain, it does cover major land components and offers a valuable starting point to further compare various energy sources and facilitates a deeper conversation surrounding the necessary trade-offs when crafting energy policy.

June 2017, Strata

Download original document: “The Footprint of Energy: Land Use of U.S. Electricity Production

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Date added:  September 6, 2017
Economics, Environment, New YorkPrint storyE-mail story

New York’s Clean Energy Programs: The High Cost of Symbolic Environmentalism

Author:  Lesser, Jonathan

Abstract: In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission enacted the Clean Energy Standard (CES), under which 50% of all electricity sold by the state’s utilities must come from renewable generating resources by 2030, and emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) must be reduced by 40%. The CES also incorporates New York’s previous emissions reduction mandate, which requires that the state’s GHG emissions be reduced 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (the “80 by 50” mandate).

Key Findings:

Jonathan A. Lesser, president of Continental Economics, has more than 30 years of experience working for regulated utilities, for government, and as an economic consultant. He has addressed numerous economic and regulatory issues affecting the energy industry in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. His areas of expertise include cost-benefit analysis applied to both energy and environmental policy, rate regulation, market structure, and antitrust. Lesser has provided expert testimony on energy-related matters before utility commissions in numerous states; before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; before international regulators; and in state and federal courts. He has also testified before Congress and many state legislative committees on energy policy and regulatory issues. Lesser is the author of numerous academic and trade-press articles and is an editorial board member of Natural Gas & Electricity. He earned a B.S. in mathematics and economics from the University of New Mexico and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington.

Download original document: “New York’s Clean Energy Programs: The High Cost of Symbolic Environmentalism

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Date added:  September 4, 2017
California, Environment, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Revisiting Ocotillo

Author:  Hales, Roy

Ocotillo, in Imperial County, has been inflicted by massive dust storms ever since 112 turbines were built around it. The desert surface was scraped clean of vegetation as a preparation for the project. Now there is nothing to hold the dust down.

Dust storm descending on Ocotillo – Jim Pelley photo

That’s not the only complaint. Since the project went online, less than two years ago:

  • 3 turbines have had their gear boxes replaced,
  • 9 turbines have had blade replacements
  • a 173-foot-long-blade flew off one turbine
  • Ocotillo residents have also documented oil leaks in 40% of the turbines. The Department of Toxic substance control subsequently gave the project a summary of violations.

Two Ocotillo residents, Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing, have documented this project on the web. There are hundreds of videos on Pelley’s Youtube site “Save Ocotillo” and Ewing’s Facebook page Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction is a visual chronicle of this project and related materials.



(October 23, 2014)

The Ocotillo wind farm went online almost five years ago. Were they not documented in such meticulous detail, some of the reports coming from the tiny desert community this project surrounds would be difficult to believe. I once received a constant stream of YouTube videos and reports from this project. It was one of the sites that shaped my perception of the energy sector. To some extent, I’ve moved on from this story since then, but I always knew I would be revisiting Ocotillo.

Revisiting Ocotillo

Parke Ewing has not been able to move on.

Last May, I asked him for an update.

Ewing replied, “It’s about 9:30 – 10:00 o’clock in the morning. Not one wind turbine is spinning. There is no wind. Their capacity factor, since they became operational, is only about 21.3%. Pattern Energy stated the wind farm would be 34% and they also said it would produce 891 gigawatts (GW) per year. So far, the most they’ve ever generated is 536 GW. So it is substantially less than what they proposed to get approval on this project …”

Ocotillo Wind Capacity by Parke Ewing

Update On Mechanical Failures

Turbine T126 after the collapse – Parke Ewing photo

This is the beginning of a four minute clip, which you can listen to on the podcast. Some of the details include:

These are just the latest in a litany of problems.

Six months after the project officially went online, a 173 foot-long-blade flew off one of the turbines.



There was a turbine fire in 2015.

Since this project went online:

Contacting The Developers

Attempts to contact the turbine manufacturer, developer and local utility have been futile.

Ewing says, “We’ve tried to talk to Pattern Energy [the developer], of course we always get a generic reply that they’re working on this or checking on that, but we never get an answer on the noise, or the lights, or anything. They really just write us off. They don’t talk to us. We get an email reply sometimes, that’s about it.”

I phoned Jeff Grappone, of Siemens USA after the turbine caught fire in 2015. He suggested I send an email. I did this, asking:

Grappone never replied.

Maybe I asked too many questions.

Dust Storms

I recently tried a different tactic, when asking Pattern Energy about the dust storms that have plagued Ocotillo since the site was built. I sent them the video you see below and asked for an explanation.



Matt Dallas emailed back, “Ocotillo Wind operates its equipment in accordance with our permits. The dust in the video was created by the wind, not by the turbines. You’ll see many of the turbines are not operating in the video because the wind speeds that day were so high they exceeded our maximum operating capacity.”

He was not aware that I had previously interviewed a site developer about dust storms on utility scale wind and solar sites.

According to Harvey Stephens, Vice President of Operations at World Wind & Solar, fugitive dust problems are caused by scraping large areas of the desert crust clean of vegetation. This leaves the underlaying soil exposed to the wind. There are remedies, such as planting grasses, windflowers and other materials as a protective blanket to stabilize areas disturbed by grading operations. When developers follow these procedures, the dust storms normally cease after a year or so.

Ocotillo has been inflicted by dust storms since construction began. In the video below, you can see one from August 2012.



I pointed this out to Matt Dallas, who did not reply.

The Noise

Ewing and his wife suspect, but can not prove, that infrasound noise from the turbines might be the reason that are “tired all the time.”

He describes the sound made by the turbines, when they are turning, as “… the most irritating sound I have ever heard.”

(There is a recording on the podcast.)

“One of Pattern’s project managers came by and listened to the sound once and said he would take it back to whoever is in charge. We never heard another word about it,” says Ewing.

“We like to be outside. That’s why we are here in the desert. We have a fairly nice place here, with a lot of trees and stuff that we need to keep watered. It is difficult to do when they are making noise. It is kind of like a noise trespassing, that really shouldn’t be happening on your property.”

What’s The Problem?

Workers washing the leaked oil off turbine 162 – courtesy Parke Ewing

Parke Ewing believes the problem is wind technology.

I agreed with him, until I saw some German sites in 2014. [NWW still agrees with Ewing.]

The problem at Ocotillo does not appear to be so much with the technology, as how it was used. This is not a good location for wind turbines. The site was politically expedient and there were massive tax credits in 2012, but should never have been built. Now the manufacturer and developer have made their money, and people like Parke Ewing are left with the mess.

September 3, 2017, Roy L Hales, theecoreport.com

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Date added:  August 26, 2017
Environment, Northern IrelandPrint storyE-mail story

Wind farms and groundwater impacts: A practice guide to EIA and Planning considerations

Author:  Northern Ireland Environment Agency

What impact can a wind farm have on groundwater?

The development of a wind farm has the potential to impact on groundwater quality, groundwater quantity and/or the established groundwater flow regime. Figure 1 shows the scale and extent of the foundation of a single wind turbine which could potentially impact on the aquatic environment. Changes to the local water environment can affect receptors such as wells/boreholes, springs, wetlands and waterways, and can also have implications for groundwater dependent ecology and/or land stability.

Figure 1: Construction of the foundation of a single wind turbine.

The key impacts to groundwater that can result from the construction, operational and decommissioning stages of wind farms are summarised in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Potential impacts on groundwater from wind farms

Construction Phase Operational Phase Decommissioning Phase
Groundwater Flow Regime Earthworks and site drainage:
• Reduction in water table if dewatering is required for turbine foundation construction or borrow pits;
• Changes to groundwater distribution and flow.
Physical presence of turbines and tracks:
• Possible changes to groundwater distribution;
• Reduction in groundwater storage.
Reduction of forestry in site area:
• Changes to infiltration and surface runoff patterns, thereby influencing groundwater flow and distribution.
Physical presence of former turbines and tracks:
• Possible changes to groundwater distribution;
• Reduction in groundwater storage.
Groundwater Quality Earthworks:
• Disturbance of contaminated soil and subsequent groundwater pollution.
Materials Management:
• Pollution from spills or leaks of fuel, oil and building materials.
Materials Management:
• Pollution from spills or leaks of fuel or oil.
Use of vehicles and machinery to remove infrastructure:
• Pollution from spills or leaks of fuel or oil.

Download original document: “Wind farms and groundwater impacts

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