Resource Documents: Environment (219 items)
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.
Author: Stolp, Nils
National Fisherman has been covering the first baby steps being taken by offshore energy producers and their allies/supporters in government and the environmental industry to turn our offshore waters into obstacle courses made up of wind turbines that, in their first stage of development, will rival the Eiffel Tower in height, with blades that sweep almost half a million square feet of air per revolution and with blade tip velocities of up to 200 miles per hour (see Kirk Moore’s “Fisheries science needs to catch up with offshore wind power”. Whether they are mounted on massive “foundations” on the sea floor or floated in place and moored to the bottom, their construction and their operation is going to have more of an impact on our continental shelf – and on our fisheries – than most of us could imagine just a few years ago. …
Download original document: “Wind turbines and offshore energy development”
Author: Ramirez-Tejeda, Katerin; et al.
Abstract: Finding ways to manage the waste from the expected high number of wind turbine blades in need of disposal is crucial to harvest wind energy in a truly sustainable manner. Landfilling is the most cost-effective disposal method in the United States, but it imposes significant environmental impacts. Thermal, mechanical, and chemical processes allow for some energy and/or material recovery, but they also carry potential negative externalities. This article explores the main economic and environmental issues with various wind turbine blade disposal methods. We argue for the necessity of policy intervention that encourages industry to develop better technologies to make wind turbine blade disposal sustainable, both environmentally and economically. We present some of the technological initiatives being researched, such as the use of bio-derived resins and thermoplastic composites in the manufacturing process of the blades.
Globally, more than seventy thousand wind turbine blades were deployed in 2012 and there were 433 gigawatts (GW) of wind installed capacity worldwide at the end of 2015. Moreover, the United States’ installed wind power capacity will need to increase from 74GWto 300GW to achieve its 20% wind production goal by 2030. To meet the increasing demand, not only are more blades being manufactured, but also blades of up to 100 meters long are being designed and produced. The wind turbine blades are designed to have a lifespan of about twenty years, after which they would have to be dismantled due to physical degradation or damage beyond repair. Furthermore, constant development of more efficient blades with higher power generation capacity is resulting in blade replacement well before the twenty-year life span. Estimations have suggested that between 330,000 tons/year by 2028 and 418,000 tons/year by 2040 of composite material from blades will need to be disposed worldwide. That would be equivalent to the amount of plastics waste generated by four million people in the United States in 2013. This anticipated increase in blade manufacturing and disposal will likely lead to adverse environmental consequences, as well as potential occupational exposures, especially because available technologies and key economic constraints result in undesirable disposal methods as the only feasible options.
The material in the shells of the wind turbine blades is typically glass fiberreinforced polymer (GFRP), a resin-matrix material reinforced with fiberglass. In particular, the shells are commonly made from a combination of epoxy resin and glass fiber reinforcement. The blades also contain sandwiched core materials such as polyvinyl chloride foam, polyethylene terephthalate foam, or balsa wood, as well as bonded joints, coatings (polyurethane), and lightning conductors. Conventional epoxy resins are thermosetting materials usually produced by a reaction of epichlorohydrin and bisphenol A in the presence of sodium hydroxide. Both bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin are derived from petrochemicals. Contrary to other types, once cured, thermoset polymers cannot be melted and reshaped by applying heat at high temperatures. As a result, thermoset composites cannot be reformed by any means other than machining, which risks compromising the properties of the material through damage or destruction of the reinforcing fibers. Therefore, the GFRP found in the blades poses a challenge to find or develop more sustainable end-of-life alternatives. …
Katerin Ramirez-Tejeda, David A. Turcotte, Center for Wind Energy, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Mass.
Sarah Pike, Political Science and International Relations Department, University of San Diego, Cal.
NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Volume 26 issue 4 pages 581-598
Analysis of near-surface relative humidity in a wind turbine array boundary layer using an instrumented unmanned aerial system and large-eddy simulation
Author: Adkins, Kevin; and Sescu, Adrian
Simulation and modeling have shown that wind farms have an impact on the near‐surface atmospheric boundary layer as turbulent wakes generated by the turbines enhance vertical mixing. While a few observational data sets that focus on near‐surface temperature changes exist, these studies lack high spatial resolution and neglect the combined effect of these temperature changes with an altered humidity profile. With a large portion of wind farms hosted within an agricultural context, changes to relative humidity can potentially have secondary impacts, such as to the productivity of crops. The goal of this study is to gather high‐resolution in situ field measurements in the wake of a single wind turbine in order to differentially map downstream changes to relative humidity. These measurements, obtained by an instrumented unmanned aerial system, are complemented by numerical experiments conducted using large‐eddy simulation. Observations and numerical results are in good general agreement around a single wind turbine and show that downstream relative humidity is differentially altered in all directions, specifically decreased below the turbine hub height. Large‐eddy simulation is then used to determine the effect of a large 7 × 4 turbine array on the relative humidity distribution in compounding wakes. It is found that the region of relative humidity decrease below the turbine hub height and the region of increase above the hub height both intensify, differentially extend in the lateral directions, and moves lightly upward with downstream distance.
Kevin A. Adkins, Department of Aeronautical Science, Embry‐Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida
Adrian Sescu, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State
Wind Energy. DOI: 10.1002/we.2220
Author: False Progress
Go to original: “Windschmerz: Can The Planet Survive Industrial Wind Energy?”
“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” – Edward Abbey
Instead of saving the planet, utilitarian zombies are sTaving it with carbon-dependent mega sprawl. This is profoundly depressing to people who haven’t sold out to the modern grind.
Windschmerz, a newly coined word*, describes the sinking feeling of witnessing a huge industrial plague being spun as good for the environment despite its obvious negative impacts. Instead of constraining the human footprint with conservation and rooftop solar, Man decided to turn the countryside into industrial parks. If this urban mega-sprawl is the new environmentalism, nature has a slim chance of remaining intact anywhere the wind blows and power lines can reach. Wind power is so absurdly large that one can only look at it with profound disappointment or concoct stories about its “beauty” and “installed capacity” to distract from the obvious. Mainstream environmental groups have done exactly that. The Sierra Club, NRDC, The Union of “Concerned” Scientists, and even Audubon have sold out to platitudes like “wind is a vital part of our energy mix” (despite its futility as a fossil fuel replacement) and “they can be carefully sited” (despite growing protests as unsullied views run out). Something is rotten in Windmark when self-proclaimed environmentalists chide people for lamenting the replacement of natural horizons with spiky machines.
Even though it’s the environmental equivalent of trying to prevent arson with vandalism, wind power has a momentum that’s hard to control because an Environmental-Industrial Complex has grown around it, propped up with slick cover stories. When thousands or millions of jobs depend on something, moral objectivity becomes nearly impossible. Germany has been a test-case for this misguided form of progress with its Energiewende mandate that caused alarm decades ago with only a fraction of today’s turbines. The landscape desecration is so blindingly obvious that many people apparently can’t perceive what they’re seeing, especially if incomes depend on it. A whole government/industry PR machine is dedicated to pretending these giants are midgets.
Windschmerz is a variant of weltschmerz (world pain or sadness) focused on a specific technology that’s destroying nature while claiming to save the planet. Are there any safe vistas now? Even if remote areas are spared, millions of acres of “near wilderness” on the outskirts of cities must remain intact to avoid a world that feels completely urbanized. Such lands are under constant threat as UGB zoning laws are weakened for utilitarian purposes. The industry seems happy to keep trashing scenery and wildlife until these eyesores are too thick for even the most deluded Greens. It used to be conservatives who didn’t respect landscapes but liberals have been successfully brainwashed by these scenery-eaters. It happened on the sly without adequate warning, mainly in Europe at first. Machine overpopulation gets similar reactions to denials of human overpopulation. “Isn’t this how modern life is supposed to be?” But, like the frog in a pot of water analogy, the masses will someday wake up and ask “What the hell happened to all the scenery?”
There are several ways people create unnatural landscapes:
- Gouging or drilling, e.g. mining, blasting, roads and wells.
- Removing plant cover with logging, farmland plowing, etc.
- Building structures for cities, factories and energy production.
Wind energy projects do all of the above except for deep drilling, and they are now the tallest structures in rural areas, especially on mountaintops which amplify their long-range visibility. The starkness of their contrast to natural surroundings is not just about size. Nothing else on that scale catches the eye with rotation, plus the shadow-flicker it creates. Mandatory red lights also intrude on skies that never had them. Wind power advocates downplay those obvious impacts, and ride on the psychological notion that anything (appearing to) fight carbon must not be causing harm. It’s a very narrow definition of harm, convenient to the industry’s agenda of grabbing subsidies for new construction projects.
No matter how many zealots call them “beautiful,” wind turbines will always impact millions of people and animals in negative ways. The industry wants to expand what we see today by orders of magnitude if they can get away with it. These machines are a colossal aesthetic blunder that doesn’t require number-crunching to analyze. All you need is eyes, ears and environmental awareness. They aren’t replacing older industrial scars like coal mines; they’re just adding to the total human impact. The moment wind turbines began expanding beyond their experimental beginnings and corporations got involved, it was inevitable that this would happen. The goal is to make them as tall as possible to catch elusive winds, which means they will never become less visible. It’s also a pipe dream that they can be made quiet or safe for flying animals. Most people in the industry must know this, which makes them doubly full of it.
The 2018 Kilauea eruption generated publicity for “damaging” Hawaii even though it’s a natural force. Much more attention should be paid to relentless man-made destruction of tropical landscapes. The image below shows Maui’s Kaheawa Wind Power project occupying a significant piece of the island, with the smaller Auwahi project to the south (yellow ovals). The Kahuku project on Oahu was initially more ambitious but ran into problems, including a battery storage fire. Later, proposed 650-foot wind turbines in the same area prompted outcries over bat kills and further losses of scenery. Wind power sprawl on small land masses makes a clear case for their limits. The Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is another example of construction overshoot, protested by those who still respect nature’s integrity.
Compounding the bleakness of this hypocritical sprawl, a sizable number of wind energy opponents are global warming deniers who think wind turbines were invented expressly to fight climate change and must be part of a Green/NWO cabal to infringe on their property rights. Donald Trump is a famous critic and UK writer James Delingpole is another example. A promising book by an “ecologist,” called “The Wind Farm Scam” is tainted by climate denial and it’s common in other books like “Paradise Destroyed…” These people make good points about the economic & environmental hypocrisy of wind sprawl, yet foolishly question the existence of gaseous atmosphere sprawl (it’s really all the same bloat). Some otherwise clever sites like stopthesethings.com are strewn with climate “skepticism” and get blacklisted on sites like sourcewatch.org as fossil fuel shills. Both sides of the wind power debate favor vilifying an enemy instead of tackling intrinsic flaws in growth-based capitalism and human nature.
Lesser-educated rural people are often caught in siting battles, so they add their base ignorance to the debate. Some see corrupt officials like Scott Pruitt as righteous warriors against “unfair” EPA carbon regulations. Even though their suffering is very real, these yokels are hurting their own cause. They should treat wind power as one of many rural threats, like deforestation (major component of wind projects), noise pollution from boom cars in rural drug ghettos, and homes sprawling into wild areas. It’s unclear how many rural anti-wind activists are OK with coal mining mountaintop removal but they should realize it’s all part of the pillaging continuum, regardless of whether it pays their bills (where wisdom ends and greed prevails). Their mindset of “us against city-slickers” distracts from everything the wind business has in common with fossil fuel, mining and logging interests.
Wind energy is the opposite of small-footprint thinking that real environmentalists should favor. It thrives on a single-action bias that fails to consider total environmental impact. It’s part of the same engineering mindset that destroys nature for money in the fossil fuel business. The standard ploy is that carbon is THE environmental demon and must be fought at any cost, though many wind farm workers are interchangeable with frackers. They are industrial mercenaries who do what they’re told and cash their checks. At least the old environmental villains weren’t overtly trying to fool people.
The next time you look at a horizon full of mutant pinwheels and windschmerz hits you, just let it happen. Then get angry and join the fight to stop them. Here are some links to help with that.
“In some way or other, the human race has to learn how to leave the world alone.” – Alan Watts
Disclaimer: This blog has been referenced on some anti-wind-power sites that promote global warming denial, which is definitely not the angle here. The real solution (if any) to environmental problems is economic growth cessation and a stable population size.
This page will be updated and reworded at random with new information. If you cite it, please post the link instead of a pasted snapshot. The word “windschmerz” (with no spaces) may have been first used here, but nobody owns the definition.
[NWW note: As with everything we reproduce, NWW does not necessarily agree in every part.]