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Resource Documents: Environment (238 items)

RSSEnvironment

Unless indicated otherwise, documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are shared here 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. • The copyrights reside with the sources indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations.


Renewables, land use, and local opposition in the United States

Author:  Gross, Samantha; and Brookings Institution

Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector is crucial to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. The American public overwhelmingly favors renewable power, and the costs of wind and solar power have declined rapidly in recent years. However, inherent attributes of wind and solar generation make conflicts over land use and project siting more likely. Power plants and transmission lines will be located in areas not accustomed to industrial development, potentially creating opposition.

Wind and solar generation require at least 10 times as much land per unit of power produced than coal- or natural gas-fired power plants, including land disturbed to produce and transport the fossil fuels. Additionally, wind and solar generation are located where the resource availability is best instead of where is most convenient for people and infrastructure, since their “fuel” can’t be transported like fossil fuels. Siting of wind facilities is especially challenging. Modern wind turbines are huge; most new turbines being installed in the United States today are the height of a 35-story building. Wind resources are best in open plains and on ridgetops, locations where the turbines can be seen for long distances.

Even though people like wind and solar power in the abstract, some object to large projects near their homes, especially if they don’t financially benefit from the project. Transmission for renewable power can also be unpopular, and even more difficult to site when the power is just passing through an area, rather than directly benefiting local residents. This is an issue today building transmission to move wind power from the Great Plains and Upper Midwest states to cities in the east.

Technological and policy solutions can lessen the land use impact of renewable power and the resulting public opposition. Offshore wind eliminates land use, but it raises opposition among those concerned with the impact on the environment and scenic views. Building on previously disturbed land and combining renewable power with other land uses, like agriculture or building solar on rooftops, can minimize land use conflicts. Community involvement in project planning and regulations for land use and zoning can help to alleviate concerns. Nevertheless, there is no perfect way to produce electricity on an industrial scale. Policymakers must recognize these challenges and face them head-on as the nation transitions to a lower-carbon energy system.

Download original document: “Renewables, land use, and local opposition in the United States

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Date added:  August 27, 2019
EnvironmentPrint storyE-mail story

Toward understanding the physical link between turbines and microclimate impacts from in situ measurements in a large wind farm

Author:  Rajewski, Daniel; et al.

Abstract:
Recent wind farm studies have revealed elevated nighttime surface temperatures but have not validated physical mechanisms that create the observed effects. We report measurements of concurrent differences in surface wind speed, temperature, fluxes, and turbulence upwind and downwind of two turbine lines at the windward edge of a utility‐scale wind farm. On the basis of these measurements, we offer a conceptual model based on physical mechanisms of how wind farms affect their own microclimate. Periods of documented curtailment and zero‐power production of the wind farm offer useful opportunities to rigorously evaluate the microclimate impact of both stationary and operating turbines. During an 80 min nighttime wind farm curtailment, we measured abrupt and large changes in turbulent fluxes of momentum and heat leeward of the turbines. At night, wind speed decreases in the near wake when turbines are off but abruptly increases when turbine operation is resumed. Our measurements are compared with Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Terra and Aqua satellite measurements reporting wind farms to have higher nighttime surface temperatures. We demonstrate that turbine wakes modify surface fluxes continuously through the night, with similar magnitudes during the Terra and Aqua transit periods. Cooling occurs in the near wake and warming in the far wake when turbines are on, but cooling is negligible when turbines are off. Wind speed and surface stratification have a regulating effect of enhancing or decreasing the impact on surface microclimate due to turbine wake effects.

Daniel A. Rajewski
Eugene S. Takle
Russell K. Doorenbos

Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames
John H. Prueger
National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Ames, Iowa

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume 121, Issue 22, 27 November 2016, Pages 13,392–13,414
doi: 10.1002/2016JD025297

Download original document: “Toward understanding the physical link between turbines and microclimate impacts from in situ measurements in a large wind farm

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Date added:  August 23, 2019
EnvironmentPrint storyE-mail story

Impacts of wind farms on surface air temperatures

Author:  Baidya Roy, Somnath; and Traiteur, Justin

Abstract:
Utility-scale large wind farms are rapidly growing in size and numbers all over the world. Data from a meteorological field campaign show that such wind farms can significantly affect near-surface air temperatures. These effects result from enhanced vertical mixing due to turbulence generated by wind turbine rotors. The impacts of wind farms on local weather can be minimized by changing rotor design or by siting wind farms in regions with high natural turbulence. Using a 25-y-long climate dataset, we identified such regions in the world. Many of these regions, such as the Midwest and Great Plains in the United States, are also rich in wind resources, making them ideal candidates for low-impact wind farms.

Somnath Baidya Roy and Justin J. Traiteur
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana

PNAS October 19, 2010 107 (42) 17899-17904; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1000493107

Download original document: “Impacts of wind farms on surface air temperatures

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Date added:  July 8, 2019
Environment, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Impact of wind energy on wildife and the environment

Author:  Henderson, Peter; Krüger, Oliver; Richarz, Klaus; and Byrne, Paula

This publication focuses on a topic that has previously been a taboo for policymakers, but also for nature conservation organisations in Germany. The environmentally destructive effects of renewable energies has never been widely discussed – mainly because they are seen as reducing carbon dioxide emissions. … The German Wildlife Foundation is not generally against wind energy. We are not opposed to any technology. But we are opposed to the unbridled expansion of energy projects in natural environments and natural spaces, a process that is increasingly happening today, especially in Germany. … The papers in this publication show what threats nature and wildlife now face from this expansion.

Fritz Vahrenholt, German Wildlife Foundation

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, an educational think tank based in London, does not have a position on wind energy or renewable energy. We neither oppose nor promote it. However, we are in favour of weighing up the pros and cons. Any form of energy production, whether conventional or renewable, has its costs and benefits, and many environmental problems come with every form of energy generation.

One of the big problems that confronts us today is that we live in an age where some of these issues are taboo; where particular topics cannot be openly discussed. Throughout history, whenever societies were faced with a lack of openness or censorship, grave mistakes have been inevitable. After all, you can only learn from mistakes if you are allowed to talk about problems openly. It is in this context that it is eminently important that the pros and cons of all forms of energy generation are openly addressed. Only by weighing up the pros and cons can politicians and the wider public get a better idea of what is reasonable and what is unreasonable.

We are not opponents of wind energy. Where wind energy makes sense it should be used. Wherever it is unreasonable and destructive, it should be avoided. The problem, of course, is that we often don’t fully understand the positive and negative impacts. I hope that this booklet will allow readers to have a better understanding of both German and international developments, so that the interested public can get a better picture of these particular problems of conservation.

Benny Peiser, Global Warming Policy Foundation

This paper, produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the German Wildlife Foundation, takes a Europe-wide look at the conflict between wind energy and nature conservation. In many European countries, people are opposing wind energy projects that are destroying wildlife habitats. … In particular, the consequences of wind turbines in forests are serious for many types of wildlife. We observe with great concern the massive expansion of wind power in Germany’s forest areas. … An open and constructive debate on the consequences that wind energy can have on wildlife – from insects to black storks to wildcats – is more than overdue.

The German Wildlife Foundation regards wind energy as an important contributor to the energy mix of the future. Its further expansion in Germany, Europe and also worldwide, however, should not be promoted at any price. For Germany, at least for the construction of wind turbines in the forest, we demand a moratorium. This would allow us to reconsider the future course of action and, on the basis of scientific findings and national and European nature conservation laws, to adopt a far-sighted course in line with the precautionary principle that is enshrined in environmental policy.

Hilmar Freiherr von Münchhausen, German Wildlife Foundation

Contents:
Ecological impacts of wind turbines – Peter Henderson, Pisces Conservation and University of Oxford
Wind power and birds of prey: problems and possible solutions – Oliver Krüger, University of Bielefeld
Wind energy in forests and species conservation: vision and reality – Klaus Richarz, Bundesverband Wissenschaftlicher Vogelschutz
Wind energy in Ireland – Paula Byrne, Wind Aware Ireland

© Copyright 2019 The Global Warming Policy Foundation

Download original document: “The impact of wind energy on wildife and the environment

See also: 
Green killing machines: The impact of renewable energy on wildlife and nature”, by Andrew Montford
Truly Green? How Germany’s ‘Energy Transition’ is destroying nature”, by Michael Miersch, director of the German Wildlife Foundation (Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung)
Grüne Energie? Wie ökologisch sind Windkraft und Biogas?

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