ISSUES/LOCATIONS

View titles only
(by date)
List all documents, ordered…

By Title

By Author

View PDF, DOC, PPT, and XLS files on line
RSS

Add NWW documents to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

News Watch

Selected Documents

Research Links

Alerts

Press Releases

FAQs

Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics

Videos

Allied Groups

Resource Documents — latest additions

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:  October 12, 2017
Economics, EmissionsPrint storyE-mail story

Impossibility of 100 percent renewables

Author:  Hayward, Steven; and Nelson, Peter

Some observers suggest that the United States can source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2050, and can easily replace not only coal but also nuclear power plants and even natural gas plants with renewable energy alone. The most frequently cited analysis in support of this proposition comes from Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson, who has published a series of papers that purport to establish the feasibility of 100 percent renewable power. This is the kind of work that generates enthusiastic headlines and news stories, and becomes a rote talking point for environmental advocacy and special interest lobbies. A closer look shows the superficiality of this claim. Twenty-one prominent academic energy experts, all of whom generally support renewable energy, recently published (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610381114) a harsh critique of Jacobson’s influential work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluding that:

‘[Jacobson’s] work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. … If one reaches a new conclusion by not addressing factors considered by others, making a large set of unsupported assumptions, using simpler models that do not consider important features, and then performing an analysis that contains critical mistakes, the anomalous conclusion cannot be heralded as a new discovery. The conclusions reached by the study about the performance and cost of a system of “100% penetration of intermittent wind, water and solar for all purposes” are not supported by adequate and realistic analysis and do not provide a reliable guide to whether and at what cost such a transition might be achieved. … A policy prescription that overpromises on the benefits of relying on a narrower portfolio of technologies options could be counterproductive.’

How much more expensive and counterproductive? A recent study (doi: 10.1016/j.tej.2016.03.001) in The Electricity Journal of decarbonization through reliance on renewables in Germany, California, and Wisconsin (a state closely analogous to Minnesota in many ways) would require an investment in wind and solar power much larger than in conventional energy supplies, chiefly because the intermittency of the wind and solar power would require massive amounts of surplus capacity. A power mix in Wisconsin that retained nuclear and natural gas electricity would achieve a 15 percent greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than a system with 80 percent wind and solar power, and at less than half the cost. As Brick and Thernstrom note:

‘[T]he intermittency of wind and solar PV [photovoltaics] means that systems that are heavily reliant on them must be significantly larger than conventional systems; this increases their cost and capital requirements dramatically. … Efforts to promote an all- (or nearly all-) renewables future are, in effect, a commitment to building the largest electric power system possible. It might be better to start from the presumption that the smallest power system that meets our needs is likely to be the most efficient, and have the least social and environmental impact.’

The study does not attempt to estimate the land area requirements for such an extensive renewable energy system, but given the examples contained in Figure 14, they are likely to be substantial. Minnesota’s government ought to do a credible estimate of future land area needs for its renewable targets.

Bookmark and Share


Date added:  October 12, 2017
Economics, Emissions, MinnesotaPrint storyE-mail story

Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure

Author:  Hayward, Steven; and Nelson, Peter

Executive Summary:

In recent years, the state of Minnesota has pursued a series of increasingly aggressive renewable energy and “clean energy” policies that cost electricity consumers billions of dollars, without achieving its ambitious environmental protection goals.

Minnesota law sets out ambitious state energy policy goals. The primary goal would have the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050. State law incorporates a number of additional energy policy goals aimed largely at supporting these greenhouse gas reduction targets. In particular, the state’s renewable energy standard requires utilities to generate a substantial portion (25 to 30 percent) of electricity from renewable sources, mostly wind.

Historically, Minnesota enjoyed the advantage of relatively cheap electricity, with rates typically 18 percent less than the national average. However, since spending an estimated $10 billion on building wind farms and billions more on new and upgraded transmission lines, Minnesota has lost this competitive advantage with little to show for it, except higher electric bills. As electricity generation from carbon free wind approaches 20 percent of total generation, Minnesota has not experienced any appreciable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to the U.S. average.

This report evaluates Minnesota’s energy policy and reaches five main findings that buttress one conclusion: Minnesota’s aspirational energy policy is a grand exercise in virtue signaling that does little to reduce either conventional pollution or greenhouse gas emissions.

Minnesota has lost its advantage on electricity pricing. Between 1990 and 2009, the retail price of electricity in Minnesota was, on average, 18.2 percent lower than the national average. However, in just seven years, this price advantage has completely disappeared. February 2017 marked the first month the average retail price of electricity in Minnesota rose above the U.S. price. (Data are available dating back to 1990.) If in the past seven years Minnesota would have maintained its historic price advantage versus the rest of the country, the state’s consumers would have paid nearly $4.4 billion less than what the actual cost of electricity turned out to be.

Minnesota’s energy policy primarily promotes wind power. Minnesota’s energy policy emphasizing renewable energy is mostly an electricity policy, which represents only about 40 percent of the state’s total energy consumption. Because Minnesota’s geography is not suitable for large-scale solar power, it aims, to date, for only modest increases in solar. As such, Minnesota’s energy policy is primarily a wind-energy policy.

Minnesota’s energy policy is failing on its own terms, as it has not achieved a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. While Minnesota was losing its advantage on electricity pricing, it did not see any significant decreases in CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions in Minnesota declined by 6.6 percent from 2005 (the peak year for CO2 emissions in both the U.S. and Minnesota) to 2014 (before starting to rise again). This decline is one-third less than the decline experienced by the nation as a whole, which saw greenhouse gas emissions drop 9.3 percent during the same time period. Looking at just emissions from the electric power sector, emissions in Minnesota dropped by slightly more than the U.S. However, since 2009, the state has made little to no progress on emissions even as electricity generation by wind increased by 92 percent.

To satisfy Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, an estimated $10 billion dollars has been spent on building wind farms and billions more on transmission. In the past five years, Minnesota utilities have reported using wind power from wind farms totaling 5,000 megawatts of nameplate capacity to meet the requirements of the state’s renewable energy standard. Based on industry cost estimates for building new generating capacity, ratepayers are committed to covering an estimated $10 billion for constructing these wind farms and billions more for the transmission needed to move this new power to market. On top of these upfront costs, ratepayers are on the hook for ongoing wind energy maintenance costs, property taxes, and replacement power needed when the wind doesn’t blow.

October 2017

Steven F. Hayward, Ph.D., senior resident scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, University
of California at Berkeley, and author of the 2011 Almanac of Environmental Trends.

Peter J. Nelson, J.D., vice president and senior policy fellow, Center of the American Experiment

Download original document: “Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure

Bookmark and Share


Date added:  September 27, 2017
WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Understanding bird collisions at wind farms: An updated review on the causes and possible mitigation strategies

Author:  Marques, Ana Teresa; et al.

Highlights:

Abstract:

Bird mortality due to collisions with wind turbines is one of the major ecological concerns associated with wind farms. Data on the factors influencing collision risk and bird fatality are sparse and lack integration. This baseline information is critical to the development and implementation of effective mitigation measures and, therefore, is considered a priority research topic. Through an extensive literature review (we compiled 217 documents and include 111 in this paper), we identify and summarize the wide range of factors influencing bird collisions with wind turbines and the available mitigation strategies. Factors contributing to collision risk are grouped according to species characteristics (morphology, sensorial perception, phenology, behavior or abundance), site (landscape, flight paths, food availability and weather) and wind farm features (turbine type and configuration, and lighting). Bird collision risk results from complex interactions between these factors. Due to this complexity, no simple formula can be broadly applied in terms of mitigation strategies. The best mitigation option may involve a combination of more than one measure, adapted to the specificities of each site, wind farm and target species. Assessments during project development and turbine curtailment during operation have been presented as promising strategies in the literature, but need further investigation. Priority areas for future research are: (1) further development of the methodologies used to predict impacts when planning a new facility; (2) assessment of the effectiveness of existing minimization techniques; and (3) identification of new mitigation approaches.

Ana Teresa Marques, Helena Batalha, Sandra Rodrigues, Hugo Costa, Maria João Ramos Pereira, Carlos Fonseca, Miguel Mascarenhas, and Joana Bernardino
Bio3 – Estudos e Projetos em Biologia e Valorização de Recursos Naturais, Almada, Portugal

Biological Conservation, Volume 179, November 2014, Pages 40-52
doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.08.017

Download original document: “Understanding bird collisions at wind farms: An updated review on the causes and possible mitigation strategies

Bookmark and Share


Date added:  September 26, 2017
U.S., WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Factors associated with bat mortality at wind energy facilities in the United States

Author:  Thompson, M.; et al.

Description: Hundreds of thousands of bats are killed annually by colliding with wind turbines in the U.S., yet little is known about factors causing variation in mortality across wind energy facilities. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of bat collision mortality with wind turbines by reviewing 218 North American studies representing 100 wind energy facilities. This data set, the largest compiled to date, provides further support that collision mortality is greatest for migratory tree-roosting species (Hoary Bat [Lasiurus cinereus], Eastern Red Bat [Lasiurus borealis], Silver-haired Bat [Lasionycteris noctivagans]) and from July to October. Based on 40 studies meeting inclusion criteria and analyzed under a common statistical framework to account for methodological variation, we found support for an inverse relationship between bat mortality and percent grassland cover surrounding wind energy facilities. At a national scale, grassland cover may best reflect openness of the landscape, a factor generally associated with reduced bat activity and abundance that may also reduce turbine collisions. Ecologically informed decisions regarding placement of wind facilities involves multiple considerations, including not only factors associated with bat mortality, but also factors associated with bird collision mortality, indirect habitat-related impacts to all species, and overall ecosystem impacts.

Purpose/Objective: Wind energy development is a rapidly growing technology within the U.S. economy and energy sector. However, wind turbines have been shown to kill both birds and bats. Thus, as wind energy continues to develop, proper understanding of the risks of turbines is critical for ecological risk assessment. This manuscript provides a meta-analysis of bat mortality at wind energy facilities across geographic regions of the US. The analysis and results will prove useful for local communities, ecological risk assessors and scientists interested in collision mortality.

Thompson, M., J. Beston, M. Etterson, J. Diffendorfer, and S. Loss
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory

Biological Conservation, 215:241-245 (2017)
doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.014

Bookmark and Share


Earlier Documents »

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook

Share

CONTACT DONATE PRIVACY ABOUT SEARCH
© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.
Share

Wind Watch on Facebook

Follow Wind Watch on Twitter