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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 22, 2017
Aesthetics, Impacts, IowaPrint storyE-mail story

Rural Iowans Reject Industrial Wind

Author:  Swanson, Janna

For over 4 years now I have been working every day to protect rural Iowa from the onslaught of Industrial Wind Turbines. Beginning with the day our family received a certified letter that the Rock Island “Clean” Line, a 500 mile wind energy power line, was seeking a 200 foot easement by the threat of eminent domain through our farm. Now I and many other Iowa residents are seeking to halt the hundreds and hundreds of Industrial Wind Turbines being proposed throughout our communities. I am a member of the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance, a grassroots organization started in Clay County Iowa that stopped the Rock Island Clean Line and now I am a board member of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights started in Palo Alto that seeks to stop MidAmerican’s and Alliant’s wind energy goals because those goals are destroying the land and the peace of our homes.

Everyone loves wind turbines you say? Iowa’s government supports Industrial Wind? The farmers love the land payments? No, the closer you get to wind installations the more you will find out how much industrial turbines are losing favor. This last year I have received phone calls from all over the Midwest. People are distraught. People have been going door to door talking to neighbors, putting up signs, writing letters to newspapers, holding meeting, starting groups, starting webpages and talking with their County governments.

For the most part the people that support Industrial Wind live in town or don’t live here at all. In Palo Alto and Clay Counties an average of 4 residences per affected townships have signed up to have Industrial Turbines on land parcels where they live. In Sac County only 12% of the landowners that have signed contracts for industrial turbines actually live on the land. In Blackhawk, Poweshiek, Mahaska, Ida, Greene and Boone Counties it is all the same story. The rural residents don’t want the installations, have no vote yet will have to live with the negative impacts every day for as long as the turbines last.

The people who live in the footprint stand to make the most money but they refuse to sign because they have heard the testimonies of others that signed before they knew of the negative impacts. Many of these people would not sign if they had to do it all over again.

There are many, many reasons why people do not want Industrial Wind and none of those reasons have anything to do with the turbines being renewable energy.

Industrial Wind Turbines can be loud. In rural areas we generally have a nighttime decibel reading of 25 dBA. Wind turbine companies in our state have been seeking to raise that level to 45-60 dBA. Many times people have not just one turbine, but multiple turbines surrounding their homes. The noise is likened the sound to a jet plane that never lands.

Wind turbines create wakes and turbulence for miles. The pressure changes in the air from wind turbines can cause some people to feel dizzy or have headaches, vertigo. Between the pressure and the noise, sleep can be difficult. A growing number of experts are studying these claims and finding that the people with these claims are indeed not “making it up” as the wind industry claims.

Shadow flicker sounds innocuous enough but often it is allowed for rural residents to have to put up with the large shadows that are thrown by the blades for every day for weeks on end all within their homes and on their property. It is like a strobe light you cannot turn off. This can also make people feel ill.

The look of the turbines. Maybe a few are not horrible but when hundreds are shoved in one area it clutters the whole landscape and the night sky is filled with blinking red lights. It can ruin the beauty of the entire countryside for 30 miles in every direction from an area half the size of Des Moines for one installation. The largest reason why we have only 5 offshore wind turbines (these were built behind an island) in the US is because people do not want turbines in their coastal views. Iowans love their views as well. Town and city residents want to have attractive surroundings and so do rural residents.

Wind turbines complicate farming. Gone is any hope of straight rows and that decreases efficiency. Gone is efficient aerial applications. Gone is the soil that is world class and the staple of our economy. Many Ag pilots refuse to fly within half a mile of turbines. Ground rigs don’t work if the ground is soggy or the crops are leaning. The large equipment used to build turbines can damage tile and often it is not fixed in a timely manner or not at all when the wind company disagrees that the damage is their fault.

Turbine failures are inevitable. Failures are also far more common than the wind industry claims. GCube Insurance is a renewable energy insurance provider. On their website they claim “there are an estimated 3,800 incidences annually of blade failure – a rate of 1 in 184, or, put more simply, 1 incident per 61 turbines in operation.” Turbines that throw blades or fall over could harm people working the fields. Turbine fires burn for days and local fire crews are not equipped to fight them.

Wind turbines kill birds. The wind companies like to say that they only kill a small fraction of our birds. They cite buildings, cats and cars as other things that kill birds. How many of those things are there compared with the relatively small amount of turbines? We have 261.8 million cars and 86 million cats compared to 50,000 or so turbines yet the last administration felt the need to give wind companies the right to kill 4,200 eagles each year. That number does not include the rest of the birds or bats.

Our communities are fighting. The local town-based governments that have control over the rural areas want the money. That money, provided by the Production Tax Credit, is driving this whole mess. Even Warren Buffett is quoted saying “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The American Wind Energy Association has done a great job of telling about how much the rural areas love Industrial Wind and the farmers love their payments. That is likely how they got our legislators to agree to this debacle. Now that the offers have been made and the numbers are in it looks like Iowans would rather preserve and protect our land and landscapes instead of giving MidAmerican or Alliant, that are planning to buy these projects from the wind companies, easement over thousands and thousands of our acres to control.

Many other communities across the US and around the world are voting Industrial Wind out of their communities or instilling restrictive zoning that makes installations unprofitable. Iowa is lagging far behind in protecting its people. They are allowing our utility monopolies to run over our rural communities to satisfy their own back-patting goals.

Wind companies often say that the mountain of evidence in the form of testimony and studies that speak to the problems people have living near industrial Wind turbines are all lies. Even we will admit that not everyone has these problems. I would respect the Industry more if they admitted the problems though they do list them in their contracts. Here is an excerpt from an Invenergy Neighbor Agreement contract that they offer non-participating residents within half a mile of their projects. For a small one-time payment their contract gives the developer an “exclusive easement on, over, under and across all of the Owner’s Property to permit Generating Units or other wind energy conversion systems on adjacent property or elsewhere to cast shadows or flicker onto the Owner’s Property; impact view or visual effects from the Owner’s Property; and cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference.” If a company feels the need to offer these contracts then their turbines are too close. If a neighbor does not sign one of these contracts they will still receive the negative impacts. When communities instill zoning that protects homes and properties, there is not enough room for these 50–70-story-tall turbines.

People may say that farmers don’t like progress. If that were true many of us would still be farming with horses instead of machines with 250 horsepower. Farmers understand the cost of restoring our world-class soils after the turbines and the PTC have expired. The US does not make 4% of its energy from wind, only 4% of its electricity. That 4% has cost us billions. What we cut in greenhouse gases according to AWEA is 159 million metric tons of CO₂ worldwide. That is less CO₂ than the 290 million metric tons US forest fires release annually, just a tiny fraction of the 40 billion tons of CO₂ humans are responsible for every year. When you count the cost to our peace in our homes, loss of property values, harm to our wildlife, the harm to the land and agricultural businesses, the price of decommissioning, the loss of community relationships, the cost has been and will continue to be staggering.

Janna Swanson
Ayrshire, IA
Coalition for Rural Property Rights

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Date added:  September 13, 2017
WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Large-Scale Mitigation Experiment to Reduce Bat Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities

Author:  Baerwald, Erin; Edworthy, Jason; Barclay, Robert; and Holder, Matt

ABSTRACT: Until large numbers of bat fatalities began to be reported at certain North American wind energy facilities, wildlife concerns regarding wind energy focused primarily on bird fatalities. Due in part to mitigation to reduce bird fatalities, bat fatalities now outnumber those of birds. To test one mitigation option aimed at reducing bat fatalities at wind energy facilities, we altered the operational parameters of 21 turbines at a site with high bat fatalities in southwestern Alberta, Canada, during the peak fatality period. By altering when turbine rotors begin turning in low winds, either by changing the wind-speed trigger at which the turbine rotors are allowed to begin turning or by altering blade angles to reduce rotor speed, blades were near motionless in low wind speeds, which resulted in a significant reduction in bat fatalities (by 60.0% or 57.5%, respectively). Although these are promising mitigation techniques, further experiments are needed to assess costs and benefits at other locations.

Erin F. Baerwald and Robert M. R. Barclay, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary
Jason Edworthy and Matt Holder, Transalta Wind, Calgary, Canada

Journal of Wildlife Management 73(7):1077–1081; 2009
DOI: 10.2193/2008-233

Download original document: “A Large-Scale Mitigation Experiment to Reduce Bat Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities

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Date added:  September 12, 2017
Economics, Germany, GridPrint storyE-mail story

Hidden consequences of intermittent electricity production

Author:  Ongena, Jozef; István Markó; Koch, Raymond; and Debeil, Anne

If the aim is to decarbonize the electricity sector and phase out nuclear power, then renewable energy remains as the only source of electricity. As wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) are a major fraction (in Germany about 65% of the total renewable electricity production) one then must cope with strong intermittency. The consequences show up most prominently during dark and cloudy periods without wind.

The reality of this last statement is illustrated in Fig. 1, showing the evolution of the electricity production in Germany for January 2017. Due to lack of wind and sunshine in the second half of January most of the German electricity during that whole period was produced by conventional power sources – lignite, coal, gas and nuclear power. On the morning of the 24th of January 2017 a nearly total collapse of the German electricity supply took place. It could have had consequences throughout Europe and was only avoided by putting into operation all possible fossil power plants in Germany, including the oldest and dirtiest ones.

Fig. 1: Electrical power consumption and production in Germany (in MW) by various sources for January 2017: grid load (brown), sum of onshore and offshore wind (blue), solar PV (yellow), installed iRES [intermittent renewable energy sources] capacity (light green background color). Although the iRES capacity is exceeding the grid load, it could only provide a fraction of the German electrical power needs during this dark period without sufficient wind and most of the power was produced by conventional power sources (fossil and nuclear). Especially the period 16-25 January 2017 demonstrates the need for large additional backup power systems (that are evidently non-renewable) or storage.

This graph also leaves no doubt about the storage problem. During the 10 days between 16 and 25 January, equivalent to 240h, the difference between the iRES produced electrical power and the electrical power needs of Germany varied between 50 and 60GW, i.e. between 12000 and 14400 GWh of electrical energy was missing. German electrical storage systems could not have supplied this large amount of energy, as the total storage capacity in Germany is about 40GWh (mainly hydro). The missing electrical energy represents thus 300-360 times the German electrical storage capacity. Including also the 12 dark and wind still days in December 2016, the missing energy would increase to about 32TWh, i.e. about 800 times the currently existing storage capacity in Germany. Note that such long low iRES power production intervals are not an exception; similarly, long periods of low combined solar PV and wind power production were observed regularly in the past years, not only in Germany but in several EU countries and predominantly simultaneously, see also below. …

The electricity production from renewable systems is characterized by a low capacity factor. In Germany with its large fleet of wind and solar PV systems, this is ~15%, resulting from ~11% for solar PV and ~18% for wind (sum of offshore and onshore wind). The consequences are shown in Fig. 2, documenting the evolution in Germany of the installed capacity and power production from solar PV and wind; also indicated are the minimum and maximum power load of the grid. It is clear (i) that although the iRES installed capacity is huge (exceeding at the moment already the maximum power load on the German grid), its contribution to the German electrical energy needs is limited and (ii) that the peaks of the iRES production increasingly cross the lines of minimum load, thus leading to more and more excess production. For the moment export to neighboring countries is still a solution. But this will have to change when the iRES production in other EU countries also will increase in the near future.

Fig. 2: Electrical power production (in GW) by wind (blue) and the sum of solar PV and wind (red) compared with maximum and miminum grid load. As the installed renewable capacity increases, the minimum grid load is increasingly exceeded, leading to overcapacity and export of surplus energy, often at negative prices. …

Export of electricity is needed not only on days with a large iRES power production, but paradoxically also on days with a minimal iRES power production. Indeed, on such days the backup production is maximal and cannot be easily regulated in the short time intervals, which characterize the intermittency of the renewable power from sun and wind. At low iRES production most of the iRES power serves only to increase the export (in several cases at negative prices) as illustrated in Figs. 4a and b and discussed in detail in D. Ahlborn, H. Jacobi, World of Mining, Surface and Underground 68, 2-6 (2016). Thus it comes as no surprise that there is a clear correlation between iRES power production (low or high) and export of electricity from Germany, as illustrated in Fig. 4b. This power is not totally lost, as it can help other countries to reduce their CO₂ output. However, the German taxpayer pays for this, and such a solution can only be temporary. Contrary to what one would expect, these massive and rather unpredictable imports are not really welcomed in the concerned neighboring countries as (i) local power plants have to reduce or shut down, reducing their profitability, and (ii) it increasingly causes overloads in the national grids of those countries. For such reasons Poland and the Czech Republic are installing phase shift transformers at their borders (paid by Germany) to reflect any dangerously high excess electrical energy imports back to Germany.

Fig. 4a: Example of the time evolution of iRES renewable electricity production during a dark and wind still period and compared to the electricity export for Germany (16-25 Jan 2017)

Fig. 4b: Hourly correlation between electricity production from renewable sources (wind + PV) and electricity export in Germany (February 2015)

These exports can only be a temporary solution because the same weather patterns often cover large surfaces of Europe. The consequence thereof is illustrated in Fig. 5, showing a comparison between the instantaneous wind power production from Germany and the sum of the wind production in 15 other EU countries: except for Spain, the correlation in the electricity production between the different countries is clearly visible. Excess wind power in Germany signifies thus also excess wind power in neighbouring countries. The difference in the timing of the maxima and minima in wind production in Spain compared to the rest of Europe, can help to average the fluctuations to a certain, albeit limited extent. One could wonder if the averaging effect of solar photovoltaic power could contribute. In fact, such an effect is nearly absent, as shown by a recent study. The same study shows that if one would use a EU wide 100% iRES electrical network, able to transport excess electrical energy production between the various European countries, typical German grid fluctuations could be reduced by 35% and the maximal storage capacity by 28% (with a 30% fluctuation level on those numbers due the varying weather conditions from year to year). Interconnector lines with a capacity of tens to hundreds of GW will then be needed throughout Europe. The export (and storage) problem can thus indeed be somewhat reduced but they will be far from totally eliminated. Other solutions to avoid the enormous excess energy will have to be found.

Fig. 5: Instantaneous wind power production in MW in Germany (dark blue) compared to the wind power production from 15 EU countries (various colors), illustrating the close correlation between wind power Europe wide. This graph clearly shows consequences for export of excess intermittent electrical power between EU countries in the future, and the very limited extent of possible ‘averaging’ of excesses throughout Europe. …

A large fraction of the produced iRES power in Germany is exported. The export was nearly stable and negligible in the years before the massive introduction of renewable power and has increased ever since, with a rapid increase in the last 5 years up to about 25% of the produced renewable energy or about 55TWh (Fig. 8). The exported energy matches the yearly produced photovoltaic energy or 2/3 of the produced wind power. However, export of excess energy can only be temporary if renewable energy is to be deployed in all EU countries, given the strong correlation between the weather in neighboring countries as already discussed in Section 2.

Fig. 8. Evolution of the total iRES electrical energy production and net electrical energy export (in TWh) over the last 26 years in Germany. The total photovoltaic production (dotted orange curve) or 66% of the total wind energy production (dashed blue curve) follows remarkably close the export curve.

Go to original document: “Hidden consequences of intermittent electricity production

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Date added:  September 11, 2017
Emissions, GridPrint storyE-mail story

How does intermittent wind power interact with controllable power?

Author:  Deroover, Marc

This article considers a typical load supplied by a set of identical controllable units. More and more wind power is then added to the production system, and the simulation shows how the system behaves and how the wind power is used.

The analysis considers only the energy and power balances at system level, using the Load Duration Curve representation of the load. No consideration is given to the network constraints, power prices and other similar topics. It is basically a theoretical exercise that uses simple hypothesis and modelling techniques to simulate the injection of intermittent power into a classical thermal system, and tries to illustrate what intermittent power is, how it works and what are its intrinsic limitations.

When a wind turbine begins to produce power, some running mirror controllable unit must reduce its output: this is backdown power. The amount of reduced power must remain ready to be produced again if the wind stops blowing: this is backup power. The wind turbine is so tightly coupled with its mirror controllable unit that from the point of view of the network operator they cannot be treated separately. Using this approach, it is possible to describe the way the wind power is inserted into the system, and to calculate the expected resulting output of the various units.

The model shows that the intermittent power is not “added” to the controllable power but is rather “merged” with it, partly replacing the controllable power and energy by its own. It explains why installation of wind power could not result in a reduction of installed conventional power. It describes how wind power destroys the power system by forcing controllable units to run in base. It shows the limits on installed wind power, and that these limits are mainly related to the availability of storage capacity. It asserts that the lack of storage capacity becomes critical when the total installed wind power exceeds some identified thresholds. Finally it describes how we could quantify the savings of CO₂ emissions due to wind power – and shows that there are probably no savings at all.

How does intermittent wind power interact with controllable power? The Dual IC model

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