Resource Documents: Impacts (125 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.
Association between self-reported and objective measures of health and aggregate annoyance scores toward wind turbine installations
Author: Michaud, David; et al.
Objective: An aggregate annoyance construct has been developed to account for annoyance that ranges from not at all annoyed to extremely annoyed, toward multiple wind turbine features. The practical value associated with aggregate annoyance would be strengthened if it was related to health. The objective of the current paper was to assess the association between aggregate annoyance and multiple measures of health.
Methods: The analysis was based on data originally collected as part of Health Canada’s Community Noise and Health Study (CNHS). One adult participant per dwelling (18–79 years), randomly selected from Ontario (ON) (n = 1011) and Prince Edward Island (PEI) (n = 227), completed an in-person questionnaire.
Results: The average aggregate annoyance score for participants who indicated they had a health condition (e.g., chronic pain, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) > 5, tinnitus, migraines/headaches, dizziness, highly sensitive to noise, and reported a high sleep disturbance) ranged from 2.53 to 3.72; the mean score for those who did not report these same conditions ranged between 0.96 and 1.41. Household complaints about wind turbine noise had the highest average aggregate annoyance (8.02), compared to an average of 1.39 among those who did not complain.
Conclusion: A mean aggregate annoyance score that could reliably distinguish participants who self-report health effects (or noise complaints) from those who do not could be one of several factors considered by jurisdictions responsible for decisions regarding wind turbine developments. However, the threshold value for acceptable changes and/or levels in aggregate annoyance has not yet been established and could be the focus of future research efforts.
David S. Michaud & James McNamee, Non-Ionizing Radiation Health Sciences Division, Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate, Health Canada
Leonora Marro, Biostatistics Section, Population Studies Division, Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau, Health Canada
Canadian Journal of Public Health (2018) 109:252–260
Author: Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska, Małgorzata; et al.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate the perception and annoyance of noise from wind turbines in populated areas of Poland. A questionnaire inquiry was carried out among 517 subjects, aged 18–88, living within 204–1726 m from the nearest wind turbine. For areas where respondents lived, A-weighted sound pressure levels (SPLs) were calculated as the sum of the contributions from the wind power plants in the specific area. It has been shown that the wind turbine noise at the calculated A-weighted SPL of 33–50 dB was perceived as annoying or highly annoying by 46% and 28% of respondents, respectively. Moreover, 34% and 18% of them said that they were annoyed or highly annoyed indoors, respectively. The perception of high annoyance was associated with the A-weighted sound pressure level or the distance from the nearest wind turbine, general attitude to wind farms, noise sensitivity and terrain shape (annoyance outdoors) or road-traffic intensity (annoyance indoors). About 48–66% of variance in noise annoyance rating might be explained by the aforesaid factors. It was estimated that at the distance of 1000 m the wind turbine noise might be perceived as highly annoying outdoors by 43% and 2% of people with negative and positive attitude towards wind turbines, respectively. There was no significant association between noise level (or distance) and various health and well-being aspects. However, all variables measuring health and well-being aspects, including stress symptoms, were positively associated with annoyance related to wind turbine noise.
Małgorzata Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska, Kamil Zaborowski, Adam Dudarewicz, Małgorzata Zamojska-Daniszewska, Department of Physical Hazards
Małgorzata Waszkowska, Department of Work Psychology
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Lodz, Poland
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2018, 15, 1575; doi: 10.3390/ijerph15081575
Download original document: “Response to Noise Emitted by Wind Farms in People Living in Nearby Areas”
Author: Carlile, Simon; Davy, John; Hillman, David; and Burgemeister, Kym
This review considers the nature of the sound generated by wind turbines focusing on the low-frequency sound (LF) and infrasound (IS) to understand the usefulness of the sound measures where people work and sleep. A second focus concerns the evidence for mechanisms of physiological transduction of LF/IS or the evidence for somatic effects of LF/IS. While the current evidence does not conclusively demonstrate transduction, it does present a strong prima facia case. There are substantial outstanding questions relating to the measurement and propagation of LF and IS and its encoding by the central nervous system relevant to possible perceptual and physiological effects. A range of possible research areas are identified.
Simon Carlile, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Australia, and Starkey Hearing Research Center, Berkeley, CA, USA
John L. Davy, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University and CSIRO Infrastructure Technologies, Clayton South, Australia
David Hillman, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Australia
Kym Burgemeister, Arup, East Melbourne, Australia
Trends in Hearing, Volume 22: 1–10, DOI: 10.1177/2331216518789551
Download original document: “A Review of the Possible Perceptual and Physiological Effects of Wind Turbine Noise”
Author: Temple, James
A pair of 500-foot smokestacks rise from a natural-gas power plant on the harbor of Moss Landing, California, casting an industrial pall over the pretty seaside town.
If state regulators sign off, however, it could be the site of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery project by late 2020, helping to balance fluctuating wind and solar energy on the California grid.
The 300-megawatt facility is one of four giant lithium-ion storage projects that Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, asked the California Public Utilities Commission to approve in late June. Collectively, they would add enough storage capacity to the grid to supply about 2,700 homes for a month (or to store about 0.0009 percent of the electricity the state uses each year).
The California projects are among a growing number of efforts around the world, including Tesla’s 100-megawatt battery array in South Australia, to build ever larger lithium-ion storage systems as prices decline and renewable generation increases. They’re fueling growing optimism that these giant batteries will allow wind and solar power to displace a growing share of fossil-fuel plants.
But there’s a problem with this rosy scenario. These batteries are far too expensive and don’t last nearly long enough, limiting the role they can play on the grid, experts say. If we plan to rely on them for massive amounts of storage as more renewables come online—rather than turning to a broader mix of low-carbon sources like nuclear and natural gas with carbon capture technology—we could be headed down a dangerously unaffordable path.
Today’s battery storage technology works best in a limited role, as a substitute for “peaking” power plants, according to a 2016 analysis by researchers at MIT and Argonne National Lab. These are smaller facilities, frequently fueled by natural gas today, that can afford to operate infrequently, firing up quickly when prices and demand are high.
Lithium-ion batteries could compete economically with these natural-gas peakers within the next five years, says Marco Ferrara, a cofounder of Form Energy, an MIT spinout developing grid storage batteries.
“The gas peaker business is pretty close to ending, and lithium-ion is a great replacement,” he says.
This peaker role is precisely the one that most of the new and forthcoming lithium-ion battery projects are designed to fill. Indeed, the California storage projects could eventually replace three natural-gas facilities in the region, two of which are peaker plants.
But much beyond this role, batteries run into real problems. The authors of the 2016 study found steeply diminishing returns when a lot of battery storage is added to the grid. They concluded that coupling battery storage with renewable plants is a “weak substitute” for large, flexible coal or natural-gas combined-cycle plants, the type that can be tapped at any time, run continuously, and vary output levels to meet shifting demand throughout the day.
Not only is lithium-ion technology too expensive for this role, but limited battery life means it’s not well suited to filling gaps during the days, weeks, and even months when wind and solar generation flags.
This problem is particularly acute in California, where both wind and solar fall off precipitously during the fall and winter months. Here’s what the seasonal pattern looks like:
This leads to a critical problem: when renewables reach high levels on the grid, you need far, far more wind and solar plants to crank out enough excess power during peak times to keep the grid operating through those long seasonal dips, says Jesse Jenkins, a coauthor of the study and an energy systems researcher. That, in turn, requires banks upon banks of batteries that can store it all away until it’s needed.
And that ends up being astronomically expensive.
There are issues California can’t afford to ignore for long. The state is already on track to get 50 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2020, and the legislature is once again considering a bill that would require it to reach 100 percent by 2045. To complicate things, regulators voted in January to close the state’s last nuclear plant, a carbon-free source that provides 24 percent of PG&E’s energy. That will leave California heavily reliant on renewable sources to meet its goals.
The Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy policy think tank, recently found that reaching the 80 percent mark for renewables in California would mean massive amounts of surplus generation during the summer months, requiring 9.6 million megawatt-hours of energy storage. Achieving 100 percent would require 36.3 million.
The state currently has 150,000 megawatt-hours of energy storage in total. (That’s mainly pumped hydroelectric storage, with a small share of batteries.)
Building the level of renewable generation and storage necessary to reach the state’s goals would drive up costs exponentially, from $49 per megawatt-hour of generation at 50 percent to $1,612 at 100 percent.
And that’s assuming lithium-ion batteries will cost roughly a third what they do now.
“The system becomes completely dominated by the cost of storage,” says Steve Brick, a senior advisor for the Clean Air Task Force. “You build this enormous storage machine that you fill up by midyear and then just dissipate it. It’s a massive capital investment that gets utilized very little.”
These forces would dramatically increase electricity costs for consumers.
“You have to pause and ask yourself: ‘Is there any way the public would stand for that?’” Brick says.
Similarly, a study earlier this year in Energy & Environmental Science found that meeting 80 percent of US electricity demand with wind and solar would require either a nationwide high-speed transmission system, which can balance renewable generation over hundreds of miles, or 12 hours of electricity storage for the whole system (see “Relying on renewables alone significantly inflates the cost of overhauling energy”).
At current prices, a battery storage system of that size would cost more than $2.5 trillion.
A scary price tag
Of course, cheaper and better grid storage is possible, and researchers and startups are exploring various possibilities. Form Energy, which recently secured funding from Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is trying to develop aqueous sulfur flow batteries with far longer duration, at a fifth the cost where lithium-ion batteries are likely to land.
Ferrara’s modeling has found that such a battery could make it possible for renewables to provide 90 percent of electricity needs for most grids, for just marginally higher costs than today’s.
But it’s dangerous to bank on those kinds of battery breakthroughs—and even if Form Energy or some other company does pull it off, costs would still rise exponentially beyond the 90 percent threshold, Ferrara says.
“The risk,” Jenkins says, “is we drive up the cost of deep decarbonization in the power sector to the point where the public decides it’s simply unaffordable to continue toward zero carbon.”
James Temple, Senior Editor, Energy
I am the senior editor for energy at MIT Technology Review. I’m focused on renewable energy and the use of technology to combat climate change. Previously, I was a senior director at the Verge, deputy managing editor at Recode, and columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. When I’m not writing about energy and climate change, I’m often hiking with my dog or shooting video of California landscapes.