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Resource Documents: Ireland (21 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.

Date added:  January 25, 2018
Health, Ireland, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Infrasound and low-frequency noise – does it affect human health?

Author:  Alves-Pereira, Marian; Bakker, Huub; Rapley, Bruce; and Summers, Rachel

On the Engineers Ireland website, a search for ‘infrasound’ or ‘low-frequency noise’ yields zero results. A search on ‘noise’, however, yields 44 results. Why is it that infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) is still such a taboo subject? While it is improbable that this particular question will be answered here, an exposé of ILFN will be provided with a brief historical account of how and why ILFN was ultimately deemed irrelevant for human health concerns.

Infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN) are airborne pressure waves that occur at frequencies ≤ 200 Hz. These may, or may not, be felt or heard by human beings. In order to clarify concepts, in this report the following definitions are used:

In the early part of the 20th century, Harvey Fletcher of the Western Electrics Laboratories of AT&T, was tasked with improving the quality of reception in the telephone. To generate the sounds in a telephone earpiece, he used an AC voltage and had some of his colleagues rate the loudness of the sound received compared to the quietest tone heard.

The company was already using a logarithmic scale to describe the power in an electrical cable and it made sense to rate the loudness of the sounds also on a logarithmic scale related to the quietest voltage that could just be heard.

Initially he called this metric a ‘sensation unit’ but later, to commemorate their founder Alexander Graham Bell, they renamed it the ‘Bel’. A tenth of a Bel became known as the deciBel, corrupted to decibel, which has stuck with the scientific community to this day.

Fletcher-Munson curves and the dBA metric

To address the problem of industrial noise in the early 20th century, measurement was essential, as was a metric. At that time, researchers were critically aware that the readings on a sound level meter did not represent how loud or intense the sound was with respect to the subject’s perception of hearing.

From a biomedical perspective, this concept of perception is subjective, and changes between individuals and over timescales from minutes to decades. These serious constraints notwithstanding, it was acknowledged that some average measure of loudness would have some value for medicine and public health.

Harvey continued his research with Wilden Munsen, one of his team, by varying the frequency of the electricity to give pure tones, to which it is understood 23 of his colleagues listened to different levels of loudness, again through a simple telephone earpiece. (It is assumed they all had good hearing). They were then asked to score the sounds for equal loudness to that generated by an alternating current at 1000 cycles per second.

The level of the sound of course depended on the voltage applied, which could be measured. It is important to note two significant constraints here: The sounds were ‘pure’ sine waves, which are not common in nature, and the headphones enclosed the ear of the subject. This is a very unnatural way to listen to a very unnatural sound.

The numerical results of this study are known as the Fletcher-Munsen Curves (Fig 1). The (logarithmic) units of these curves are known as ‘phons’ and the inverse of the 40 phon curve forms the basis of the A-frequency weighting scale used everywhere today (Fig 2).

A-Frequency weighting scale

The minimum pressure required for humans to perceive sound at 1000 Hz is considered to be 20 micropascal, or an intensity of 10−12 watts per square meter. This corresponds to 0 phon on Figure 1, and 0 dBA in Figure 2. For all its shortcomings, the A-weighting has endured for decades and has become the de facto standard for environmental noise measurement. But is the A-weighting sufficient for all circumstances?

The answer is an emphatic ‘No’. It relates to the perception of loudness, which heavily discounts all frequencies below 1000 Hz and ends at 20 Hz. This 20-Hz limit was a consequence of equipment limitations of the 1920s and 30s, but has remained as the lower limit of human hearing to this day. The assumption that harm from excessive noise exposure is directly related to the perception of loudness has also remained to this day.

Observe in Fig 2 that, at 10 Hz, there is a 70-dB difference between what is measured and what is, de facto, present in the environment. In other words, three-and-a-half orders of magnitude of energy are discounted at this frequency.

The implications for public health are considerable, and within this line of reasoning, any event below 20 Hz becomes of no consequence whatsoever – and more so because it is not implicated in the classical effects of excessive noise exposure: hearing loss.

There are also issues of time and frequency resolution. Acoustic phenomena are time-varying events. A 10-minute average of acoustic events can hide more than it reveals. Similarly, segmenting frequencies into octave or 1/3-octave bands for analysis can also hide much that needs to be seen.

Today, affordable and highly portable equipment can record acoustical environments, and allow for post-analysis in sub-second time increments and 1/36-octave resolution. Waveform analysis from the sound file directly can achieve an even better resolution.

Field studies in Ireland

The following results, recently obtained in field-studies conducted in Ireland (July-November 2017), show why such resolution is needed to understand ILFN-rich environments. The classical metric (in dBA, 10-min averages and 1/3-octave bands) will be contrasted with what is needed for human health-related concerns (in dB with no frequency weighting, and resolutions of 0.2s and 1/36-octave bands), and not merely compliance with regulations.

Equipment and methods
Acoustical environments were recorded with a SAM Scribe FS recording system, a 2-channel recorder with sampling rates up to 44.1 kHz at 16-bit resolution and linear response down to almost 0.1 Hz [4-6]. Recordings were saved as uncompressed WAV files including the 1000 Hz/94 dB reference calibration tone prior to and after measurements. Windshields were placed on both microphones during the entire measurement sessions. Microphones were attached to tripods at approximately 1.5 m above the ground.

Five homes located around the same industrial wind turbine (IWT) development have been the object of study. The data presented here refers to Home 1 (Fig 3). Table 1 shows the dates and times of all recordings that have been made to date in this home. The recordings selected for analysis and presentation herein were chosen on their educational value.

Table 1: Dates and times of recordings

Home No. Date Time Blue Channel Red Channel
1 04 Jul 04:05–06:48 In child’s bedroom, 1 In child’s bedroom, 2
05 Jul 15:33–17:50
10 Oct 17:40–18:43

Fig 3: Reconstruction using a Google Earth image and showing the relative position of Home 1 and each of the six industrial wind turbines

The information classically obtained with the dBA metric, 1/3-octave bands and 10-min averaging (on 10 October, 2017, at 18:30) is given in Figs 4 and 5. Weather conditions obtained from Met Éireann for the closest weather tower at this time were as follows: air temperature: 14°C, precipitation: 0.1 mm, mean sea-level pressure: 1006.0 hPa, wind speed: 5.1 m/s (10 kt), wind direction: southwest (200° az).


The values obtained for the sound pressure level and 1/3-octave bands are seen in Figs 4 and 5. The overall dBA metric (red bars labelled ‘Tot’) reflects the sound that humans would hear if they were present in this environment.

The sound pressure level in dBLin metric (grey bars labelled ‘Tot’) reflect the amount of acoustic energy to which humans are concomitantly exposed. The growing discrepancy between the two can be seen as the frequency falls below 1000 Hz.

Fig 4: Data covers a 10-minute interval analysed between 0.5-4000 Hz, in 1/3-octave bands, as recorded in Home 1, on 10 October 2017, at 18:30 (red microphone, i.e. inside child’s bedroom-2). The red bars are A-weighted values, while the gray bars indicate the acoustic energy that is, de facto present, in dBLin. In this environment, the human being would perceive through the ear an overall A-weighted pressure-level of approximately 34 dBA (Tot – red bar), while being concomitantly exposed to an overall acoustic pressure-level of approximately 74 dBLin (Tot – grey bar).

Fig 5: Data covers a 10-minute interval analysed between 0.5-1000 Hz, in 1/3-octave bands, as recorded in Home 1, on 10 October 2017, at 18:30 (red microphone, i.e. inside child’s bedroom-2). The red bars are A-weighted values, while the gray bars indicate the acoustic energy that is, de facto present, in dBLin. In this environment, the human being would perceive through the ear an overall A-weighted pressure-level of approximately 26 dBA (Tot – red bar), while being simultaneously exposed to an overall acoustic pressure-level of approximately 74 dBLin (Tot – grey bar).

Figure 6 shows the sonogram corresponding to the same 10-min period. This visual representation of time- and frequency-varying acoustic events provides much more information than the classical approach (Figs 4 and 5).

Here, short-term events can be seen in the region of 20-50 Hz (Fig 6). Tonal components can be seen at 10 Hz and 20 Hz that are not steady in amplitude and may be amplitude modulated, i.e., where the amplitude of the pressure is not continuous and varies periodically with time. The 10-minute averages, used in almost all legislation, hide these variations and are representative only of tonal components that are essentially unvarying over the 10-minute period in question.

Fig 6: Sonogram that covers the same 10-minute interval (600 s) as in Figs 4 and 5 showing time-varying features. The colour-coded bar on the right indicates sound pressure level values in dB Linear (no weighting). The horizontal line seen at 20 Hz is not a continuous tone because over the 600 s, its pressure level (colour-coded data) varies. A strong (yellow) acoustic phenomenon can be seen to exist at 1.6 Hz and also at 0.8 Hz. Home 1: No weighting, 1/36 octave bands (0.5-1000 Hz), 0.2 s average – Red Channel

The periodogram (Fig 7) over the same 10 minutes shows that there are distinct tonal components that form a harmonic series. When IWTs are the source of ILFN, the rotating blades generate repeated pressure waves as each blade replaces the previous one at any position.

A harmonic series is formed with the ‘blade pass frequency’ as the fundamental frequency (0.8 Hz here). These harmonics constitute what is called the wind turbine signature [7], which is impossible to identify using the classical dBA, 1/3-octave, 10-minute averaging methodology.

Fig 7: Periodogram covering the same 10-minute interval (600 s) as in Figs 4-6, and analyzed between 0.5-1250 Hz. The blade pass frequency of the IWT is 0.8 Hz. Harmonics of this fundamental frequency are shown in the figure. Each frequency band composing the harmonic series has a well-defined peak, e.g., the horizontal line seen in Fig 7 at 20 Hz is represented here as a peak at 20 Hz.

Final thoughts

Health concerns associated with excessive exposure to ILFN in the workplace have been around since the industrial boom in the 1960s [8]. In recent years, however, residential neighbourhoods have also begun to be flooded with ILFN [9-14]. The family living in Home 1, for example, has abandoned their residence due to severe health deterioration in all family members.

Accredited acousticians cannot ascertain compliance levels for ILFN because there are none – the vast majority of regulations worldwide do not cover this part of the acoustic spectrum. Nevertheless, public health officials and agencies should fulfil their job descriptions by becoming aware of the limitations of current noise guidelines and regulations.

Alternatives exist to gather the acoustic information relevant to the protection of human populations, in both occupational and residential settings. Noise regulations and guidelines need urgent updating in order to appropriately reflect ILFN levels that are dangerous to human health.

Mariana Alves-Pereira
School of Economic Sciences and Organizations (ECEO), Lusófona University, Lisbon, Portugal

Huub Bakker
School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Bruce Rapley
Atkinson & Rapley Consulting, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Rachel Summers
School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Engineers Journal, 25 January 2018


[1] Dickinson P (2006). Changes and challenges in environmental noise measurement. Acoustics Australia, 34 (3), 125-129.

[2] Wikicommons (2017). Fletcher-Munson Curves. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lindos4.svg

[3] Dirac (2017). Dirac Delta Science & Engineering Encyclopedia, A-Weighting. http://diracdelta.co.uk/wp/noise-and-vibration/a-weighting/

[4] Atkinson & Rapley Consulting Ltd (2017). Specification sheet for the SAM Scribe FS Mk 1. www.smart-technologies.co.nz

[5] Primo Co, Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) (2017). Specification sheet for the electret condenser microphone, custom-made, model EM246ASS’Y. http://www.primo.com.sg/japan-low-freq-micro

[6] Bakker HHC, Rapley BI, Summers SR, Alves-Pereira M, Dickinson PJ (2017). An affordable recording instrument for the acoustical characterisation of human environments. ICBEN 2017, Zurich, Switzerland, No. 3654, 12 pages.

[7] Cooper S (2014). The Results of an Acoustic Testing Program Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm. Prepared for Energy Pacific (Vic) Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia.


[8] Alves-Pereira M (1999). Noise-induced extra aural pathology. A review and commentary. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 70 (3, Suppl.): A7-A21.

[9] Torres R, Tirado G, Roman A, Ramirez R, Colon H, Araujo A, Pais F, Lopo Tuna JMC, Castelo Branco MSNAA, Alves-Pereira M, Castelo Branco NAA (2001). Vibroacoustic disease induced by long-term exposure to sonic booms. Internoise2001, The Hague, Holland, 2001: 1095-98. (ISBN: 9080655422)

[10] Araujo A, Alves-Pereira M, Joanaz de Melo J, Castelo Branco NAA (2004). Vibroacoustic disease in a ten-year-old male. Internoise2004. Prague, Czech Republic, 2004; No. 634, 7 pages. (ISBN: 80-01-03055-5)

[11] Alves-Pereira M, Castelo Branco, NAA (2007). In-home wind turbine noise is conducive to vibroacoustic disease. Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Lyon, France, Sep 20-21, Paper No. 3, 11 pages.

[12] Castelo Branco NAA, Costa e Curto T, Mendes Jorge L, Cavaco Faísca J, Amaral Dias L, Oliveira P, Martins dos Santos J, Alves-Pereira M (2010). Family with wind turbines in close proximity to home: follow-up of the case presented in 2007. 14th International Meeting on Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Its Control. Aalborg, Denmark, 9-11 June, 2010, 31-40.

[13] Lian J, Wang X, Zhang W, Ma B, Liu D (2017). Multi-source generation mechanisms for low frequency noise induced by flood discharge and energy dissipation from a high dam with a ski-jump type spillway. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (12): 1482.

[14] Rapley BI, Bakker HHC, Alves-Pereira M, Summers SR (2017). Case Report: Cross-sensitisation to infrasound and low frequency noise. ICBEN 2017, Zurich, Switzerland (Paper No. 3872).

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Date added:  February 6, 2016
Aesthetics, Economics, Environment, Ireland, Property valuesPrint storyE-mail story

Refusal/Diúltú: North Meath Wind Farm

Author:  An Bord Pleanála

IARRATAS ar chead faoi alt 37E den Acht um Pleanáil agus Forbairt, 2000, leasaithe, de réir na bpleananna agus na sonraí, lena n-áirítear ráiteas tionchair timpeallachta agus ráiteas tionchair Natura, a thaisc North Meath Wind Farm Limited faoi chúram Fehily Timoney and Company Limited as Core House, Bóthar Pholl an Duibh, Corcaigh leis an mBord Pleanála an 6ú lá de Dheireadh Fómhair, 2014. …

Meastar go mbeadh feirm ghaoithe den scála, den mhéad agus den airde atá beartaithe ina gné thiarnasach sa cheantar tuaithe faoi líon daoine seo, go ndéanfadh sé dochar mór do thaitneamhachtaí na réadmhaoine sa chomharsanacht, go gcuirfeadh sé isteach ar charachtar an tírdhreacha agus nach mbeadh sé de réir chuspóirí forbartha iomlána Phlean Forbartha Chontae na Mí 2013-2019. Ina theannta sin, meastar nach mbeadh an fhorbairt bheartaithe ag teacht leis na Treoirlínte um Fhorbairt Fuinneamh Gaoithe de bhrí nár samhlaíodh sa doiciméad treorach seo go dtógfaí tuirbíní gaoithe a bheadh ar scála chomh mór sin i gceantar atá tréithrithe go príomha mar thírdhreach thalamh feirme cnocach agus réidh agus atá chomh cóngarach sin do líon mór áiteanna cónaithe. Mar sin bheadh an fhorbairt bheartaithe contrártha le pleanáil chuí agus forbairt inbhuanaithe an cheantair.

APPLICATION for permission under section 37E of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended, in accordance with plans and particulars, including an environmental impact statement and a Natura impact statement, lodged with An Bord Pleanála on the 6th day of October, 2014 by North Meath Wind Farm Limited care of Fehily Timoney and Company Limited of Core House, Pouladuff Road, Cork. …

It is considered that a wind farm of the scale, extent and height proposed would visually dominate this populated rural area, would seriously injure the amenities of property in the vicinity, would interfere with the character of the landscape and would not be in accordance with the overall development objectives of the Meath County Development Plan 2013-2019. Furthermore, it is considered that the proposed development would not align with the Wind Energy Development Guidelines as this guidance document did not envisage the construction of such extensive large scale turbines in an area primarily characterised as a hilly and flat farmland landscape and in such proximity to high concentrations of dwellings. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Download original document: “Refusal/Diúltú: North Meath Wind Farm

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Date added:  March 14, 2015
Human rights, Ireland, LawPrint storyE-mail story

In sowing the wind, how Ireland could reap the whirlwind

Author:  Barrett, Eva

On 1 July 2010, Ireland gave an ambitious pledge to convert a significant share of electricity generation from conventional to onshore wind generation. This pledge was designed to support a legal obligation to reach a 16 per cent share in renewable energy consumption by 2020. More recently, buoyed by the apparent success of the initial policy, the Irish Government indicated its intention to explore the potential for a wind generated electricity export market. However, problems are evident that threaten these ambitions as Ireland’s wind policy and most of its commercial wind developments (namely those constructed before 2011) are open to legal challenge for having breached EU law. Although the case law that supports this proposition will be considered solely in relation to the threat it poses to Ireland’s wind policy and developments, the jurisprudence has broad-ranging implications for renewable energy across the EU, and for environmental lawyers and policy-makers in all 28 of the EU’s Member States.

Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 2015
Vol 33, No 1, 59–81, doi: 10.1080/02646811.2015.1008847

Download original document: “‘In sowing the wind, how Ireland could reap the whirlwind’ – a case against Irish wind development(s)

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Date added:  March 8, 2015
Economics, Emissions, Europe, IrelandPrint storyE-mail story

Clean energy – What is it and what are we paying for?

Author:  Swords, Pat

Dogmas of ‘clean energy’ versus ‘dirty energy’ abound. So much so, that in order to ‘cure’ a perceived problem in the EU, by the end of 2012, over €600 billion had been invested in wind turbines and solar panels, with multiples more of that planned to come. Given that you only get to spend it once and we are funding it through soaring electricity prices; that’s a hell of a belief system. So where are the figures to justify it?

History abounds with poor decision-making and the resulting major political, financial and environmental failures. As a result, legal systems were put in place, requiring for significant policies, plans or programmes, that Regulatory Impact Analysis with detailed cost benefit studies be completed, with a further legal requirement for the completion of Strategic Environmental Assessments. These procedures must involve participation of the public in the decision-making and be completed before such policies, plans or programmes can be adopted.

However, having established such procedures, they were promptly ignored by the EU and its Member States, after all there was a planet to be saved and existing energy structures no longer sufficed and had to be made ‘clean’. The EU’s politicians knew best and established a 20% target for renewable energy by 2020, essentially ‘pulling it out of a hat’. It was never worked out in advance; what was to be built, where it was to be built, what were the impacts, what were the costs, what were the benefits, etc. These minor details were not allowed to limit the implementation of the target. As the introduction to the relevant Directive explains, the overall 20% target for the EU was then shared out among the Member States based on their existing level of renewable energy and a factor based on GDP. Hence Ireland obtained a 16% target and Austria, a country with considerable hydro reserves; essentially double that at 34%.

The democratic deficit was staggering; as bypassing these assessment procedures also bypassed the associated public participation in decision-making. To quote Animal Farm, in which the pigs decide and all the animals have to toil building windmills:

The number 42 is, in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams, “The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”, calculated by an enormous supercomputer over a period of 7.5 million years. Unfortunately no one knows what the question is. It is the same way with ‘clean energy’; it was never worked out what the 20% renewable energy target was actually to deliver, a position we are still in, after five years of its implementation and hundreds of billions of Euros spent.

In the limited supporting documentation for the 20% renewable energy by 2020 programme, the wild guess used to justify the claimed for carbon dioxide savings, was generated as an output from a super computer used by the EU, which nobody else is allowed to access and evaluate. However, it was clearly fundamentally flawed, the computer programme completely failing to account for the increasing inefficiencies induced on the existing thermal power stations, as more and more highly intermittent wind and solar energy is added to the grid. As if this wasn’t stupid enough, even if those claimed for savings had materialised, they would have amounted to at most 2% of global annual carbon emissions; in other words have had no effect on the planet’s climatic systems. Neither was any consideration given to alternative measures to achieve the same or better results.

Bad enough as how the issue of emissions savings was dealt with, even worse is that nobody knew or continues to know, what exactly in terms of damage, carbon dioxide emissions are causing. Instead, political consensus was reached that these emissions were causing damage and a policy and target implemented to suit. Then billions of Euros, our Euros, thrown at it to achieve the target – but nobody knew what the problem was in the first place, as the data to support and quantify the decision-making was never generated. This was never seen as an obstacle by the relevant political decision-makers, after all being ‘Green’ was fashionable and any decisions could be justified by taking the moral high ground in that the planet needed to be saved.

A striking feature which runs through the limited amount of documentation, produced by the authorities to support the renewable and climate change programmes, is its glaring incompetency. Competency by definition requires demonstration of the relevant knowledge and experience in the subject matter, but more importantly evidence of a position of responsibility in implementing that subject matter. Europe for instance is not short of senior engineers, who have delivered major projects in the energy sector. Yet absolutely none of this competency featured in the appalling poor and limited analysis completed on behalf of the public authorities. Instead deliberate preference was given incompetent University ‘researchers’, who as complete charlatans repeatedly produced deficient and politically motivated documentation to suit the politicians’ objectives.

In contrast the manner in which since the early 1980s Europe, both Eastern and Western, addressed the challenge of air pollution could not be greater. As a result of a focused technical approach, with extensive cost benefit analysis, huge reductions in emissions of pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates have occurred. While there are still some remaining problems with respect to air pollution, these are now occurring primarily from traffic and domestic heating systems. Our power generation sector is no longer the significant source of these pollutants.

However, these improvements in reducing the environmental impact of our power generation was no longer good enough for us, we also had to decarbonise, but why? In particular, where is the supporting information for these policies, which have such huge costs? If it is the EU’s official position that:

“Science tells us that all developed countries would need to reduce emissions by 80-95% in order to have a fair chance of keeping global warming below 2°C”.

Then is it not reasonable to expect that if one goes searching for the supporting information, one will find it? Unfortunately, one finds that such supporting information for this position does not exist; instead the policy was based on political consensus being reached by our same leaders gifted with their superior knowledge and abilities. Yet global temperatures have not risen since 1998, when the EU was developing its renewable energy programme, despite that fact that some one third of global carbon emissions have occurred since that date, why?

Chemical engineers by profession complete heat transfer calculations, which are based on the three methods of heat transfer, namely conduction, convection and radiation. If you put your hand on a stove, heat will transfer by conduction from the molecules of the stove to the molecules of your hand. Yet the heat transfer fluxes based on conduction, which occur when the air interfaces with the surface of the land or the sea are unknown. The same stove in a room will transfer heat by generating circulating air currents, which is heat transfer by convection. The planet’s circulating ocean currents and atmospheric patterns likewise transfer heat by convection, but we do not understand those mechanisms, such as to the basic level as how clouds form in these thermals.

The stove in the room will, if you are in a line of sight to it, transfer heat to you by infra-red radiation. If you place an obstacle between yourself and the stove, such as a sofa, you will not feel this radiant heat. In a similar manner, the planet radiates infra-red radiation out to space, except when it is trapped by molecules in the atmosphere, the so called greenhouse effect. Despite claims as to otherwise, the most significant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is water vapour, whose concentration and hence effect is highly variable. Carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas, but the greenhouse effect associated with carbon dioxide is logarithmic, decreasing rapidly as the carbon dioxide concentration is increased. For example, the greenhouse effect which occurs when the carbon dioxide concentration is raised from 10 to 20 parts per million (ppm), is the same as an increase in concentration from 100 to 200 ppm. In simple terms, carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect is ‘tailing off’, as the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is increased.

So where does this the catastrophic warming arise from? Of huge concern is the blind faith we are now expected to put in the skills of a limited number of mathematical experts and their computer models, called General Circulation Models (GCMs). The threat of global warming in those models is singularly based on the principle of a feed forward effect, i.e. that if the earth’s temperature increases slightly as a result of increased carbon dioxide, then more water vapour will enter the atmosphere, this will in turn increase temperatures, leading to even more water vapour and as a result we will enter into a never ending spiral of run-away temperatures.

Yet if this feed forward mechanism were not to occur, then even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a deeply politicised body, has to admit that a doubling of the global atmospheric carbon dioxide level would only lead to about a 1.2°C rise in temperature. As we are only about a third of a way to that doubling of the pre-industrial age concentration, one can only conclude; so what, after all such a rise is equivalent to everybody moving 200 km closer to the equator; Belfast gets Cork’s climate, etc. Indeed, if we consider the EU’s policy objective of limiting the future average global surface temperature increase to two-degrees, that this would essentially happen anyhow without any requirement to reduce fossil fuels.

So does the whole debate around whether climate change, is mild warming or catastrophic warming, come down to this question of the degree of feedback? Essentially it does. While the ability to understand the complexity of the Earth’s climatic systems will require many decades of careful analysis, as the Earth goes through its natural cycles of change, there are two things which are already certain.

Firstly the large degree of uncertainty in relation to how the Earth’s basic heat transfer mechanisms occur, uncertainties which are documented in the IPCC reports, renders these GCM computer models as completely unfit for purpose. As such then it is not surprising that the predictions of these computer models, which are extremely alarmist, is rapidly diverting from the behaviour of Mother Earth, which has been in a temperature pause for eighteen years. Secondly, if there was strong water vapour feedback occurring, we would have seen it to date, as the pre-industrial carbon dioxide concentration has risen from 250 to 400 ppm.

We are in a position in the Western World, the EU in particular, where political leaders jumped on this populist decarbonisation agenda without ensuring that the proper due diligence and assessments were completed. This hasn’t happened in other parts of the World, such as China for example, where the validity of the IPCC’s predictions is called into question. As a result the EU’s obsession with renewable energy is increasingly becoming a liability for the proper functioning of its society, not least in the manner in which its citizens are being deceived and defrauded.

The cost of renewables in Ireland has already resulted in a 50% rise in the domestic electricity rate, while the capital expenditure alone for the infrastructure to deliver the 40% renewable electricity target, which is almost exclusive related to wind energy, is in excess of €20 billion. As the necessary legal procedures in assessment were bypassed, it was never worked out in advance what actual reduction in greenhouse gases would occur or what the costs would be, while neither was any alternatives considered.

When applying in 2007 to the EU for State Aid for Environmental Protection in relation to Renewable Energy Feed in Tariffs (REFIT), the Irish administration claimed that 1.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide savings would result per 1,000 MW of installed wind energy. Their latest 2014 National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) progress report claims 1.17 million tonnes of CO₂ savings per 1,000 MW of installed capacity, but this is based on a calculation method, which even the Irish authorities admit is inaccurate, as it ignores the significant inefficiencies induced on the grid by the intermittent input of wind energy.

Stung by criticism that they were ignoring these inefficiencies, the Irish authorities produced a new analysis in which they claimed that these inefficiencies were addressed, in which savings were now estimated at 0.85 million tonnes of CO₂ per 1,000 MW of installed wind capacity. Sadly, this is actually less than half (45%) of what they claimed would occur when REFIT was initiated back in 2007 to fund the building of this infrastructure in the first place. Despite their claims, there are also huge doubts over the validity of the methodology used in the final report, but regardless, the sad conclusion is that Ireland’s renewable energy programme delivered emission savings of less than 0.004% of the global total; a futile drop in the ocean.

No matter which way you look at it, Ireland and the EU’s renewable energy programme has been a massive squandering of resources. Back in the late nineties and early 2000s some efforts had been made to quantify the environmental impact of carbon dioxide. Even then it was obvious that the money being allocated, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, was grossly disproportionate to the environmental impact of those emissions. Furthermore, those conclusions on environmental impacts were based on projections of computer models, which have since proven to be inaccurate and alarmist.

In times to come people will look back at how the EU and its Member States failed to complete any technical, economic and environmental assessments, broke its rules in relation to State Aid for Environmental Protection and subverted the democratic rights of its Citizens, all to deliver the projects of the wind energy industry. Who in turn as purveyors of a technology, which was obsolete in the 1770s when James Watt invented the steam engine, must be in a position where they cannot believe their luck.

However, right around the EU the renewable energy programme is now coming off the rails, as both the financial and environmental costs spiral out of control – the 20% by 2020 renewable target is dead, it is impractical to meet it, even for the wealthier Member States like Germany, the UK and France. Yet one cannot but wonder at the stupidity of political leaders and their infatuation with the ‘Green’ vote, which led them to pull this whole programme ‘out of a hat’.

So was it a case of the ‘grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ and we ‘threw the baby out with the bathwater’. Well the figures actually show that there is actually nothing wrong with our existing conventional generation. Air pollution had been dealt with by improved emissions control. The carbon dioxide emissions are only leading to a minor warming in temperatures and an increase in plant growth, particularly in arid regions, both of which are beneficial. So what is the problem?

By Pat Swords BE CEng FIChemE CEnv MIEMA

Regulatory Impact Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis
The EU’s Detailed System for Environmental Assessment
Europe’s Successful Programme to Reduce Air Pollution
—The Impacts of Air Pollutants
—The Cost of Air Pollution
—The Impact of Air Pollution from Irish Power Generation

The Cost and Benefits of Reducing Carbon Emissions
—Eighteen Years later do we actually have a clue as to the damage cost of Carbon Emissions?
—How was Renewable Energy originally justified financially?

The Basis for the EU’s 20% Renewable Energy Programme
—The EU’s Impact Assessment for the Programme
—How the Member States then went about implementing the Renewable Energy Programme

So after 18 years what was actually achieved?
—The National Renewable Energy Action Plans come off the rails
—Mother Nature did her own thing
—Billions of Euro for a ‘Drop in the Ocean’

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence
—Throwing the baby out with the bathwater
—The Era of the ‘Dream Salesman’
—Have we lost the ‘run of ourselves’?
—So what is Sustainable Energy?


Download original document: “Clean energy – What is it and what are we paying for?

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