Resource Documents: U.S. (141 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: 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.
Author: Petrie, Scott; and Chouinard, Matt
As per your letter of engagement dated March 2, 2018, Delta Waterfowl has provided an assessment of the potential impacts of the Sharp Hills Wind Farm (SHWF) on breeding and migrating/staging (hereafter staging) waterfowl. We have reviewed all of the documents that you provided and have mapped the locations and extent of the proposed industrial wind development (Figure 1), proposed industrial wind turbine (IWT) locations in relation to wetlands in the region (Figure 2), breeding waterfowl densities (Figure 3), land-cover types (Figure 4), and a figure showing the waterfowl exclusion zones, avoidance zones (based on European literature – see below) and potential barrier effects if the proposed IWTs are constructed (Figure 5).
Based on our assessment, we have concerns that the proposed wind farm will adversely impact a number of avian (displacement and direct mortality) and bat (mortality) species. Unlike many species of passerines, birds of prey and bats that are killed by IWTs, waterfowl generally avoid industrial wind developments (Larsen and Madsen 2000; Desholm and Kahlert 2005, Stewart et al. 2005, Larsen and Guillemette 2007, Masden et al. 2009, Fijn et al. 2012, Rees 2012) which is problematic when IWTs are placed in and close to important waterfowl habitats, and/or across migratory or feeding flight corridors. This review pertains to the potential barrier effects and habitat loss (due to avoidance) that would be imposed on ducks, geese and swans if the proposed IWT development was constructed. It is our professional opinion that if the proposed industrial wind development is constructed, it will adversely impact breeding as well as spring and fall staging waterfowl. …
Scott Petrie, Ph.D., CEO, Delta Waterfowl
Matt Chouinard, M.Sc., Senior Waterfowl Programs Manager, Delta Waterfowl
12 April, 2018
Download original document: “Sharp Hills Wind Farm: Assessment by Delta Waterfowl”
Author: Deever, Donald
As a public commentator on this highly disturbing environmental issue, I willingly preface these submitted comments by stating that my personal information should be included in this document for public view. Moreover, it is necessary to state up front that I am strongly opposed to this misguided and destructive project and that I will not cease to play a lawful part in preventing one of the country’s greatest ecological tragedies from occurring. Moreover, I share the objections of every like-minded individual and environmental organization who recognizes the priceless ecological, recreational, historical, cultural, and scenic value of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree and South McCullough wilderness areas, Castle Mountain National Monument, and Mojave National Preserve areas that will be drastically and irrevocably devastated if the proposed industrial wind turbine project by Crescent Peak Renewables is unlawfully allowed to take place in the form of hundreds of industrial wind turbine towers that will stand 400 to 700 feet high.
The subsections below concisely summarize the grounds for my opposition based on harm to biological resources, visual resources, cultural resources, tribal interests, recreational potentials, and human health. It should be noted that these objections stem from far more than personal opinion but represent scholarly research consisting of more than 1,000 pages of online documents on the topic. It should also be noted that while each of the 50 numbered passages in this public comment submission represents an objection to the aforementioned industrial wind turbine project, these numerous objections do not represent the entirety of my objections, which grow with each day that I conduct further research into this highly disturbing plan.
I. Objections Based on the Potential Harms to Irreplaceable Biological Resources
VULNERABILITY OF A VERY SMALL WILDERNESS AREA
AUDUBON IMPORTANT BIRDING AREA
RARE NESTING CAVITIES
DANGEROUS INCREASE IN PREDATORS
DECIMATION OF HERBIVORE POPULATIONS
FEDERAL, STATE, & COUNTY PROTECTED SPECIES
THOUSANDS OF COURT CASES
FEDERALLY-PROTECTED ANIMALS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
COMPLETE REVERSAL OF ROAD POLICIES
GROUND DISTURBING ACTIVITIES
BYE BYE FEDERALLY PROTECTED GILA MONSTER POPULATIONS
WHERE HAVE ALL THE BIRDLIFE GONE?
FRAUDULENT GOLDEN EAGLE DENSITY SURVEY
VIOLATION OF THE TORTOISE RECOVERY PLAN
POLLUTION OF CRITICAL SPRINGS
GOODBYE TO SOLITUDE DEPENDENT SPECIES
LOW FREQUENCY SOUND DAMAGE
BLM DOUBLE-STANDARD ON NOISE DEGRADATION
II. Objections Based on the Potential Harms to Visual Resources
UNFOUNDED ATTEMPT TO REDUCE VISUAL RESOURCE STATUS
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK OF JOSHUA TREES
STUNNING BEAUTY COMMENTS THROUGH THE EYES OF THE WORLD
III. Objections Based on the Potential Harms to Cultural Resources
NO PROPER CULTURAL INVENTORY TAKEN
HISTORIC WAGON TRAIL
IV. Objections Based on the Potential Harms to Tribal Interests
SACRED TRIBAL VALUE
GOOD BYE DARK NIGHT SKIES
V. Objections Based on the Potential Harms to Recreation
WORLDWIDE RECREATIONAL INTEREST COULD BE LOST
VIOLATION OF WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES
INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINE FIRE HAZARDS
SOUTH MCCULLOUGH WILDERNESS RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
SOLITUDE & WELL-BEING DO NOT COINCIDE WITH TURBINES
PRIVATE RECOGNITION OF RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
IRREPLACEABLE VALUE OF SOLITUDE
VI. Concluding Remarks, Concerns, and Objections
CONTRADICTING EVERYTHING AN EIS STANDS FOR
VIOLATION OF NATIONAL WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT GOALS
GOING BACK ON THE PROMISE TO PROTECT SURROUNDING LANDS
TAKING THE WILDERNESS QUALIFICATION OUT OF THE WILDERNESS
THEFT OF AN ENDURING RESOURCE OF WILDERNESS
BREACH OF PROMISE / BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST
COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES ARE PROHIBITED
DEFIANCE OF A PRESIDENTIAL AND CONGRESSIONAL ACT
NEVADA’S FIRST WILDERNESS
MORE THAN JUST THE SPIRIT OF SOUTHERN NEVADA
LOOMING GREATEST HUMAN HEALTH HAZARD OF ALL TIME [asbestos]
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
Download original document: “50 Reasons for Opposing the Crescent Peak Wind Project”
Author: Newman, David; and Fisher, Brian
Abstract: Atlantic Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of the renewable energy company Avangrid Renewables of Portland Oregon, is proposing to construct a state-of-the-art large-scale wind turbine energy farm (LSWF) of approximately 88 Gamesa G-132 wind turbines in the heart of the rural Tug Hill region at the intersection of Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties in upstate New York. The proposal, entitled the “Mad River Wind Farm,” would have a nameplate capacity generate [electricity at a rate of] up to 350 MW (megawatts, or million watts), enough to provide power for 60,000 typical households over the course of the 20-30 year life span of the project (however, the actual power produced may be substantially less). The project is to be sited under a new, unified review and approval process for electrical facilities generating in excess of 25 MW, according to provisions of Art. 10 of the NYS Public Service Law. Traditionally, forested landscapes were considered as “no-go” locations for siting LSWFs, [owing] to their inaccessibility and problems with airflow turbulence in potentially uneven forested canopies. However, as technology has improved and turbines have increased in height (400 to 600+ feet), forests are receiving new attention as large-scale landscapes to site wind farms. Only a handful of LSWFs have been constructed in forested landscapes in the US. While wind farms are often considered as beneficial, renewable forms of “green energy” and are increasingly favored by the environmental community for their important contributions to sustainable energy development and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, they may not always have benign impacts to the environment where they are sited. This white paper, prepared for the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, examines the potential ecological and environmental impacts from the proposed Mad River project, and focuses on direct and indirect impacts from both the construction and operational phases of the project.
The bio-physical ecological impacts addressed include:
- micro-climate and air quality;
- noise and visual impacts;
- riparian water quality and palustrine wetlands;
- timber stand dynamics and the potential for forest fragmentation;
- invasive species;
- bat and bird mortality;
- recreational impacts;
- transportation, road building, and ancillary energy facilities construction;
- the potential impact on DOD radar and electronic facilities;
- safety and security issues; and
- connectivity issues related to the existing structure and assimilative capacity of the electric grid network of the region,
Prepared for Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust by Dr. David H. Newman (Principal Investigator), and Prof. Brian L. Fisher, M.S. (PhD Student; Primary Author), Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, April 2018
Download original document: “Mad River Wind Farm Impact Assessment Study in the Tug Hill Region of New York State”