Resource Documents: Netherlands (15 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.
Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Health, Massachusetts, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden •
Author: Green, Lilli-Anne; and Australia Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines
Ms Green: I am CEO of a healthcare consulting firm with a national reach in the United States. My company works in all sectors of the healthcare industry. One of the core competencies of the firm is to develop educational programs to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to better communicate with their patients around the various disease states. Currently, as a volunteer in my town, I am secretary of our energy committee and a delegate to the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission as an alternate. Cape Cod National Seashore is part of the United States National Park Service. In the late 1970s, I built a passive solar superinsulated home. I directed an environmental education school for several years. I work seasonally as a naturalist interpretive ranger for the National Park Service. I have been interested and active in the environmental movement since the early seventies. Today, I speak as a private citizen.
CHAIR: Thank you. Could you please confirm that information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you?
Ms Green: It has.
CHAIR: Thank you. The committee has your submission and we now invite you to make a brief opening statement and at the conclusion of your remarks, I will invite members of the committee to put questions to you.
Ms Green: Thank you. Until the beginning of 2010, I believed wind turbines were good and green. My town was interested in constructing wind turbines and a friend visited my office in early March 2010 to provide my husband and business partner and me with new information. Following the visit, I spent the next 10 hours researching wind turbines. That very day, after concluding my research, I was saddened but I became convinced there was credible evidence that wind turbines cause adverse health impacts for some people who live nearby. In the past, over five years, I have learned it is a global phenomenon that wind turbines make some people who live nearby sick and it is a dose response so these people become more ill over time.
My husband, who is now deceased, and I travelled to Australia and New Zealand in 2010-11 and subsequently created a film called Pandora’s Pinwheels: The Reality of Living with Wind Turbines. We then travelled around the world in 2012 and conducted interviews in 15 different countries. Most of the people we interviewed expressed that they were in favour of wind energy prior to wind turbine construction nearby. There are some common symptoms people the world over report who live and work too close to wind turbines. A good summary is found in the book Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment by Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD.
It does not matter whether people live in English-speaking countries or in countries where people do not speak English. People reported to us they are made sick when they live too close to wind turbines, no matter what country they live in. We interviewed people in both English-speaking countries and non-English-speaking countries alike who reported to us they were not ill prior to wind turbine construction nearby and after the wind turbines were operational nearby they were made sick.
We interviewed people in five countries – France, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Sweden – who either needed an interpreter to speak with us or who spoke broken English. Some locations were quite rural with little or no internet connection. Still, the people we interviewed through interpreters expressed the same symptoms, others the world over described to us. These people with no or limited internet connection even used similar phrases, analogies and gestures, as others did globally to describe their symptoms. What we actually found is most people are reluctant to speak about their health problems.
In the United States, there are privacy laws regarding medical information. Culturally, people do not openly discuss their health problems with strangers. We found this to be the case in the countries we visited around the world. It was a brave person who opened up to us about their health problems. Usually, the people we interviewed expressed they wanted to help others. If anything, people tended to minimise their symptoms of try to attribute the symptoms to other circumstances. Even when they acknowledged a common symptom such as sleep deprivation, many people who experienced additional common symptoms were reluctant to attribute these other symptoms to the wind turbines nearby. Furthermore, people the world over reported that they and their healthcare providers puzzled over health problems that appeared after wind turbines were constructed near their homes.
Many endured a huge battery of medical tasks to try to determine what the cause of their health problems were. The medical tasks, at a huge cost to the healthcare system, only ruled out various diseases. Typically, the cause of their sickness was not diagnosed by their healthcare professional. Frequently, we heard that the patients would be in a social situation with others in their neighbourhood and eventually people they knew well confided they had similar health problems that recently appeared, or after research online about a different topic these people reported stumbling upon the cause of their health problems, which were the wind turbines constructed nearby.
We even interviewed people who lived for 11 years near wind turbines in a non-English speaking country – and that was in 2012. Several people came to an interview to talk about their property devaluation. It was only during the interviews when they heard others speak about health problems that the people realised they had been suffering because they lived too close to wind turbines. One man in his 80s sobbed during his interview. He had been visiting his doctor for 11 years trying to figure out what was wrong with his health.
The woman who invited us to interview her and her neighbours learned about health problems from wind turbines when she saw the film I produced Pandora’s Pinwheels, with interviews conducted in Australia and New Zealand, that was translated into her language. These people needed an interpreter; they did not speak English. She told me that her husband had passed away in the not too distant past due to heart problems. Before he died, he had complained quite frequently of common health symptoms people living near wind turbines experience. Although they visited their doctor frequently, no-one could figure out why he was so sick. She thanked us because, in seeing our film, it helped her to understand what her husband had been going through and why. It gave her closure that she did not have prior to viewing our film.
Another person at the interview told us she had to hold on to the walls of her house some days in order to walk from room to room and felt nauseous frequently. She knew she was unwell in her home and abandoned it. She did not know why until she saw our film. She came back to the area for the interview because she wanted to tell the world that wind turbines made her so ill that she sold her home at a huge loss.
One of the people I have known for the past five years lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts, which is very close to where I live – it is an hour and a half away. In 2010, he had recently retired to his dream home of many years. He was in great physical health, very fit and has over a 20-year record of normal to low to blood pressure. Since the wind turbines have been constructed in Falmouth, Massachusetts, he has reported that his blood pressure skyrockets to heart attack and stroke levels when the wind is coming in the wrong direction for him.
In Falmouth there are three wind turbines that are 1.65 megawatts near this person’s home. This person’s doctor, whom he has seen over the past 20 years, is in the Boston area and his doctor has been quite blunt. The doctor has told the patient that his life is in danger and he must move. Unfortunately, the Falmouth resident is crushed and cannot bear to leave his dream home at this point in time. He goes to other locations when the wind is predicted to be coming from the wrong direction. Others we interviewed in many different countries told us similar stories. Many reported they have abandoned their homes, sold their homes at a huge loss, purchased other homes to live in when the wind is coming from the wrong direction or in order to sleep in, and others spend time away from their homes at a huge and unexpected expense. People considered their homes as sanctuaries prior to the construction of wind turbines nearby. Now their opinion is not the same.
We have interviewed people on three continents who live more than five miles from the nearest wind turbine and are sick since wind turbine construction. I contend that we need honest research to determine how far wind turbines need to be sited from people in order to do no harm. People report to us that over time their symptoms become more severe. Many report not experiencing ill effects for some time following wind turbine construction, meanwhile their spouse became ill the day the wind turbines nearby became operational. They speak of thinking they were one of the lucky ones at first, but after a number of months or years they become as ill as their spouse. Not one person who stayed near wind turbines reported to us that they got used to it or got better; they all became more ill over time.
Since we are dealing with a dose response, we do not know over the projected lifetime of a wind turbine – say, 20 to 25 years – how far from people it is necessary to site wind turbines. To me, it is just wrong to knowingly harm the health and safety of people. There are responsible solutions to environmental issues that do not impact the health and safety of people nearby. Our humanity is in question when we continue to knowingly harm others. I thank you for your time today. I sincerely hope that you do take active steps to help the people in your country who are suffering due to living and working too close to wind turbines, and I am glad to answer questions you may have.
CHAIR: Thank you.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Good morning, Ms Green – I suppose it is not morning there. Thank you for your submission –
Ms Green: No, it is Sunday evening here.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Sunday evening? I am sorry to being interrupting your evening.
Ms Green: I am glad to speak with you.
Senator LEYONHJELM: You have interviewed people in 15 countries, I think you said, under all different circumstances and so on. I appreciate we are not pretending this is a gold-plated, statistical survey, but I am interested in your impressions because I think you have more experience of this than any other witness we have heard from. What do you think, based on your experience, are the common factors in the people you have interviewed in different communities living near wind turbines? What are the common factors to all of them?
Ms Green: I think we seriously do not have enough research to understand this problem fully. We saw the same symptoms. Slide 17 that I submitted has a listing of the common symptoms that Dr Pierpont lists in her book. I really believe that we just do not have enough information yet. But throughout the interviews, country by country, people described the same symptoms. Many times they used the same phrases to describe them and the same gestures – and they were not speaking English. There is a common thread here.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Do you get the impression that not everybody exposed to wind turbines is affected the same? Have you seen evidence of substantial individual variation?
Ms Green: I have, indeed. Just as some people are more prone to asthma and some people are more prone to lung cancer, let’s say, or any disease, we did see a variation. It appeared that if there were people who were, say, prone to migraine headaches, they were severely affected. But, again, there were people who did not seem to have the symptoms who were living either in the same house or nearby. I do not know whether it is a question of time, if over 20 years people become more sensitised and they will become sick. Very frequently we did hear the same theme running through the stories of the people we interviewed, where, say, the husband thought he was one of the lucky ones and six months later he could not sleep, he was experiencing ear pressure, ear pain and severe headaches or other symptoms.
Senator LEYONHJELM: We are aware of community groups in English-speaking countries who have expressed opposition to wind turbines, but we are not aware of that sort of phenomenon in non-English speaking countries. Have you encountered that?
Ms Green: Yes, indeed. We travelled around the world. It was a 10-year goal. We had it very well planned out and we thought it was for pleasure. But people kept emailing us and asking us to come and interview them. So we met people in a lot of non-English speaking countries, and they were such nice people, I have to say. They had just about any profession you would like to mention. They just wanted to tell their story. Many times these people wanted to talk to us for other reasons such as their house had been devalued because the wind turbines were nearby. As they were listening to other people in the room talking about their health problems, these people realised that they had been struggling with the same illness since the wind turbines were constructed nearby. They had never made that correlation before; in fact, they were quite frustrated. They told us that they would go back and back continually to their healthcare provider and talk about these symptoms, and they could not find a resolution or a reason. As I said, there is one man I recall quite vividly just sobbing – and that was in 2012; he was in his 80s. He had realised that since the wind turbines had been constructed nearby he was experiencing these symptoms that were the common symptoms.
Senator LEYONHJELM: Some witnesses have suggested to us that there is a relationship between not only the distance their residence is from the turbine but also the power of the turbine, the size of the turbine. Have you been able to come to any conclusions on that or is that outside your interest area?
Ms Green: No, it is not outside my interest area. In fact, it is quite alarming to me, because I have interviewed people who live near wind turbines that you in Australia would probably consider to be quite small and solitary – wind turbines that are 100 kilowatts, even – and they are experiencing health problems, even people living near a 10-kilowatt wind turbine. Frankly, it is the nearest wind turbine to where I live, and a number of neighbours are having problems, and not just with the audible noise but with the infrasound and low-frequency noise, based upon the symptoms they are reporting to me. It really is quite alarming. In my state, Massachusetts, there is a woman who has told me she lives more than five miles from the nearest wind turbine and she is quite ill. The onset of her symptoms was when the wind turbine was constructed. When she went on trips she was fine; when she came back she was ill, and it has only become worse over time. That wind turbine is not as powerful as wind turbines in Australia, and it is a solitary wind turbine.
Again, we travelled quite a distance in France – mid-south-eastern France – over a number of days at the invitation of the people in the area and visited several different communities where there were wind turbines. One of the situations is that the wind turbine is 10 kilometres from one of the neighbours who is very ill and 12 kilometres from the other neighbour. The person who lives 12 kilometres away reported to us that she had been very supportive of the wind turbines. She is very well known as an environmentalist in the area, has quite a reputation as an environmentalist and is highly regarded. But she is quite ill, and it was very difficult for her to speak with us.
The other person related a story of trying to detect what the problem was because he could not sleep and was becoming so frustrated that he would go in his car to try to find the source of what was keeping him awake. He talked about going night after night until he went into the wilderness. He could not imagine what was there, and then he found the wind turbines. They were creating a humming noise in his head at that point. He could actually hear this frequency. In our discussions with researchers, medical professionals and scientists, one of the scientists told us that what people hear is mostly a bell curve – that is the way it was described to us. Most people hear audible noise within a certain range, but there are people who are more sensitive to noise, and they hear sounds that most people would consider inaudible.
Senator URQUHART: I have a lot of questions. I am not going to get through them all, so I am wondering whether you are able to take some on notice at the end.
Ms Green: I will try. I am very busy, but I will try.
Senator URQUHART: In your submission you say you run a healthcare consultancy. Do you have any qualifications in health care or medicine?
Ms Green: I have a background in education.
Senator URQUHART: What is the name of your company?
Ms Green: I do not want that on the record.
Senator URQUHART: Can I ask why?
Ms Green: I am speaking today as a private citizen. I would be glad to give you that information if it is held as in-confidence.
Senator URQUHART: Okay. How many employees do you have?
Ms Green: My husband has passed away. He was my business partner, and I have scaled back the business. I am the only employee at this point in time. However, I will tell you that I have created in our company, with teams of people, educational programs that have been implemented throughout the United States. One of the oncology programs that was created by my team, which was quite a large team, interviewed over 100 oncology patients throughout the United States and numerous doctors and nurses and was mandatory for all of the nurses in the Kaiser health system in California.
Senator URQUHART: In your submission you say that 300,000 physicians have undertaken training through your company.
Ms Green: That is correct.
Senator URQUHART: What are the products or services? Is it communication? What is it that you actually sell?
Ms Green: There is a number of different core competencies in our company. One is developing educational programs around different disease states, such as oncology, diabetes, heart disease and various other disease states. Another path we have taken is to develop a service quality initiative. My husband was an extraordinary speaker and was often the keynote speaker for national conferences in all sectors of the healthcare industry.
Senator URQUHART: In your opening statement you talked about how you had interviewed many people from various countries. I could not find any of the transcripts, either in your submission or online. I am sorry if I have missed them.
Ms Green: You have not missed them. In the company we are still in the process of editing the films. It is a huge undertaking of many months, at huge expense. There is a lot of information that is still being edited.
Senator URQUHART: Are you able to provide copies of the transcripts and the full names of the people you interviewed?
Ms Green: No. It is on film; it is videotaped interviews, and the film is being edited.
Senator URQUHART: You talked about how you undertook the research after you had new information from people within your area who were concerned about wind farms. Was that the purpose of the interviews?
Ms Green: No. In my town, one month after we learned that our energy committee wanted to put a 1.65 wind turbine in our town – and we had conducted the research and people in our town were quite concerned – our board of selectmen, which is like your town councils, decided to not move forward with the project. I am on my energy committee, as secretary, and we are devising a plan to become 100 per cent electrical energy efficient without wind energy but using other alternative methods. Are you asking me what propels me to do the interviews?
Senator URQUHART: Yes. I guess my real reasoning was whether the purpose of the interviews was to inform the body of research on international attitudes to wind farms. Is that why –
Ms Green: No. It is not an attitude; it is to understand the realities of living near wind turbines – living, working, attending school, being incarcerated near wind turbines.
What happened was that my stepson was living in Australia and we went to Australia at the end of 2010. I knew there was a location called Waubra and I had seen the Dean report that had been recently published. I put out one little email asking ‘Do you happen to be in the Melbourne area and is it possible to meet some of the people that are living near the wind turbines at Waubra? Is it possible to see the Waubra area?’
It was amazing that I was connected with the people in that area of Australia. My husband and I drove to the area and we interviewed over 17 people in one day. They welcomed us into their homes. We did not know what to expect. We turned the camera on and we asked them questions, and they told us their story. We had no idea what we were going to find. We went to New Zealand and people emailed us after they had heard we had been to Waubra. They asked us if we would come and visit them and interview them. We did that in two different locations in New Zealand. When we came home we put together this film called Pandora’s Pinwheels –
Senator URQUHART: You interviewed people –
Ms Green: We just thought we would go back to Waubra and talk to the people at Waubra because we had been emailing them over the year. People around the world kept on emailing us and asking us to come and interview them.
Senator URQUHART: So you conducted interviews in 15 countries, as I understand it from your submission. Is that how you got the contact information on the people you interviewed?
Ms Green: I do not understand your question. Everywhere we were travelling people kept on emailing us and contacting us and asking if we would come and interview them and talk with them. They wanted to go on camera and tell their story. We had no agenda; we had no plan. We work in the healthcare industry; we talk about various illnesses and disease states, and we educate doctors and nurses about disease states. I am sorry; I want to retract that: we find a cross-section where patients are having issues with the communication around their disease state, and the doctors and nurses are having issues around communicating with their patients. We find those intersections and help doctors and nurses better communicate with the patients. So we are trying to improve patient care. That is what we do as one of the core competencies of our business.
When we found the health problems with the wind turbines and when we saw in every country we visited that people were saying the same thing, we wanted to get that word out to people like you who are hearing from your constituents that they are having health problems. That is all I want to do – to provide you with the truth.
Senator DAY: Ms Green, as you might imagine, we have received submissions from hundreds of people who have reported adverse health impacts and yet we are being accused of trying to destroy the wind industry. We are being accused of rigging this inquiry and of being engaged in a political stitch up. What has been your experience with such hostility towards genuine inquiry?
Ms Green: I really do not have a response for you, Senator. I have heard a lot of stories from people and I have experiences myself, but I really do not have a response on that topic.
Senator DAY: Okay. I will follow up then: you say that a number of governments around the world are realising there is a need for more or better regulation surrounding the wind energy industry. Which governments are doing better in this area, in your opinion?
Ms Green: I know that in my state, I have a new governor and my governor has a background in health care, and I am expecting that my governor understands that people do have health problems when they live and work too close to wind turbines in my state.
Senator BACK: Ms Green, I have just one quick question; I know that we are over time. In Australia, we are proceeding to have independent medical research undertaken for the first time. One of the proposals put to us is that they try and simulate this effect of either noise or infrasound, and do so in a one-off exposure in a clinically sterile circumstance for exposure times of somewhere between 10 to 30 minutes and an hour. From what you have learned and heard – and from interviewing people – do you think there would be anything to be learned in exposing somebody for a very limited period of time, and once only, in a sort of laboratory-type circumstance? Do you believe that is likely to lead to any reasonable outcome or result that we might be able to use?
Ms Green: Senator, I am not a researcher or a doctor. But given what I have heard from people and what people have reported to me, I find it highly unlikely that that would have any results that would have any validity.
Senator BACK: Thank you.
CHAIR: Thank you for evidence today to the committee, Ms Green. You will receive questions on notice and if you are able to come back to us with answers to those, that would be appreciated.
Ms Green: Absolutely. I would like to thank the committee; the chair, Senator Madigan, and the members of the committee, and also to thank you, Graham.
CHAIR: Thank you, Ms Green.
—GREEN, Ms Lilli-Anne, Private capacity
Monday, 29 June 2015, Sydney
Author: Jonkman, Elisabeth
I would like to inform you what happened to my life after I started hearing and feeling low frequency noise. Please read my story and understand why I supported the amendments in the proposed legislation if they include measurement of infrasound and low frequency noise.
My name is Elisabeth Jonkman, I am a women of 55 years old and mother of two sons, 24 and 19 years old now. I lived in the middle of Holland, in Almere. 40 years ago the land was sea. When I came to live there in 1994 there were 94,000 inhabitants, nowadays there are nearly 200,000 inhabitants in this new city. Of course there are consequences for the energy-supplies. My city is still growing. There are more than 600 windturbines and their amount is still growing with much larger machines. Nuon/Vattenfall is also extending their energy supplies with new pipes and installations.
6 November 2011 a disaster happened in my life; I became vulnerable for low frequency noise. I don’t know why it happened to me, I only can guess. Since then my house is hell on earth. I constantly hear the sound of a kind of machine in my house. It is a pumping, rhythmic and low, heavy sound such as a big transport car near your house. It is nearly almost there: in my living-room, my toilet, my bathroom and the worst of all: my bedroom. It also gives a feeling of pressure in the air and it makes my body tremble. The area around my heart is trembling when I am in my house. It is very scaring and sometimes I think I just die if it doesn’t stop. At such terrible moments I have to go outside my house, even when it is late at night. Outside the house my body picks up the vibration and I can hear the sound in the air although it is not so damaging as it is in the house.
I still have a son to attend for, he is autistic and not ready to lose his mother yet. You may ask yourself: “Why doesn’t she move and go to live elsewhere?” As a matter of fact: I did so 5 months ago. The disaster continues, being sensitized for LFN. Holland is a small and crowded country with lots of windturbines, gasfields and pipes, and lots of other industrial plants. There is no safe place for victims of LFN anymore.
My son told me he can hear the noise since he was born. His father and I, we never understood his complaints about his heart trembling and the noise in his head. We never understood why he shook his head as if he wanted to chase an insect, why he couldn’t sleep and why he was so tired. We visited doctors and they examined him but they never could find a reason for his complaints except that he was autistic. In 2011 the pieces of the puzzle fitted in.
My life has stopped, I cannot work any longer and I just try to survive and stay the mother that my sons need. There is hardly medical support for the victims of LFN. Doctors don`t know how to help us. Health Organizations ignore us. How can you help LFN victims if you do not listen to them and do not want to spend money on serious and independent investigation? Meanwhile, medical industry is doing good business prescribing antidepressives and antipsychotics. In the south of Holland (Limburg) they make you believe you are crazy and insist on behavior therapy. LFN is the new asbestos, taking this serious is lifesaving for generations to come.
There is an unknown amount of victims in Holland right now, registration fails. Desperate people contact the Foundation for Low Frequency Noise, the stories are distressing and degrading. www.laagfrequentgeluid.nl
I fear we are economic collateral damage, a proof of what is going to happen to lots of citizens who now think it is a thing that is never going to happen to them.
Victim of LFN (we call it LFG)
Doorwerth, The Netherlands, 14-3-2014
Author: Verheijen, Edwin; Jabben, Jan; Schreurs, Eric; and Smith, Kevin
The Dutch government aims at an increase of wind energy up to 6 000 MW in 2020 by placing new wind turbines on land or offshore. At the same time, the existing noise legislation for wind turbines is being reconsidered. For the purpose of establishing a new noise reception limit value expressed in Lden, the impact of wind turbine noise under the given policy targets needs to be explored. For this purpose, the consequences of different reception limit values for the new Dutch noise legislation have been studied, both in terms of effects on the population and regarding sustainable energy policy targets. On the basis of a nation-wide noise map containing all wind turbines in The Netherlands, it is calculated that 3% of the inhabitants of The Netherlands are currently exposed to noise from wind turbines above 28 dB(A) at the façade. Newly established dose-response relationships indicate that about 1500 of these inhabitants are likely to be severely annoyed inside their dwellings. The available space for new wind turbines strongly depends on the noise limit value that will be chosen. This study suggests an outdoor A-weighted reception limit of Lden = 45 dB as a trade-off between the need for protection against noise annoyance and the feasibility of national targets for renewable energy.
Noise Health. 2011 Nov-Dec;13(55):459-63
Edwin Verheijen, Jan Jabben, Eric Schreurs, Kevin B. Smith
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Environmental Monitoring, Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Download original document: “Impact of wind turbine noise in the Netherlands”
Author: le Pair, C.
Electricity production in The Netherlands using renewables, especially wind, has grown to a size that makes it visible in the national statistics of electricity generation. Its influence on fossil fuel consumption can be determined. Based on these ‘official figures’ we show the actual contribution of fuel reduction to be equivalent to about 4,1% of the installed – ‘nameplate’ – capacity. The actual data also provide some insight into the mechanism that causes wind electricity to have such a dramatically small influence on primary fuel consumption.
Renewables are being introduced into electricity generation in order to save fossil fuel and to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions. In an early stage of this process a simple supposition convinced authorities and the public at large of the effectiveness of using renewables. A kWh of electricity produced free of CO2, would replace a kWh conventionally produced. It would therefore save the amount of the fossil fuel otherwise needed to produce that same quantity of electricity.
This simple notion has been criticized. The renewable electricity generation influences the way conventional units operate which in turn reduces their efficiency, and actually results in less savings. Conventional units are necessary when some of the renewable resources like wind and PV solar, are not available. They come when the wind blows or only during daylight hours. Electricity storage, which would alleviate this problem, is only feasible in very special situations. Otherwise it is too expensive.
World wide, a debate has evolved between the protagonists of large-scale renewable systems and critics who argue that the systems do not function as promised. Because quite substantial amounts of money are involved, there is a lot at stake. Many people, whose incomes and occupations are linked to the renewable sector do not appreciate the arguments put forward by the critics.
Politicians, who have tried hard in the past to push renewables, risk damage to their green image if they suddenly change sides.
The dispute has continued for some time because of inherent difficulties in determining the decisive facts that would facilitate objective decision making. First of all, the electricity systems in different countries and regions are not alike. Therefore the way in which intermittent sources influence the overall operation differs from country to country. Thus, arguments that are valid in one place may not, or not as equally well, influence matters elsewhere. Secondly there is reluctance among producers to reveal the relevant production data. They claim that it is competitively sensitive data. Also we must realize that some of the data necessary to make final conclusions are simply not available. Thirdly, as some of the renewables advocates say, present day figures are not conclusive because the overall system is changing; for instance stronger interconnections between regions and so-called smart grids may improve the situation.
We took an active role in this debate as can be read in a number of earlier contributions (2, 3-9). We have been in contact with other investigators abroad, whose work helped us to better understand the complexity of the problem and strengthened our conviction that there is something fundamentally wrong with today’s large scale renewable development. To mention but a few, I’d ask the reader to review the work on developments in the USA by W. Post (10) and in Denmark by H. Sharman (11) and P.F. Bach (12). There are many more excellent contributions and I apologize to their authors for not listing them all.
Due to the lack of all the necessary data many studies have been based on models filled in with available, though incomplete, data and topped up with general knowledge about systems and components.
Noteworthy exceptions are the studies by Bentek on the electricity systems of Texas and Colorado (13), of F. Udo on the Irish case (5, 7, 9) and several studies about Denmark (11, 12).
Bentek used the actual pollutants’ emission data to show that adding wind did not achieve the objective of reducing the emissions. Udo used the detailed production time series provided by the Irish grid operator Eirgrid to show that wind accomplished much less than previously assumed. In Denmark the wind penetration is so strong that the results show up in all kinds of national statistics. They reveal that the Danes can use only half of their wind made electricity. They face other disadvantages too. For instance, they pay about twice as much for electricity as the French do.
However, these facts on foreign systems are not sufficient to influence policy at home. The argument that situations and systems are not alike and may not be easily compared provide an all too convenient veil to hide behind.
We have summed up most of the critical arguments in a recent article in Europhysicsnews (8). In a previous paper, I presented a model of a hypothetical wind turbine assembly in the center of the Netherlands using actual wind behavior and known properties of gas-fueled backup generation to show that wind electricity might even increase fuel use (6). But, of course, a model is not as convincing as actual facts.
Electricity production in the Netherlands
The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics collects data on electricity production. It composes annual time-series which are publicly available on its website ‘Statline’ (14). At present the relevant series cover the years 1998-2010. Some of the data of 2010 are still labeled ‘provisional’. But the actual figures that are expected later in the summer of 2012 will not differ too much from those already published. They will therefore not influence the trends we have computed and used below.
Renewable production has now reached a high enough level to show up in these macro statistics. We have analyzed them and present the results here. We produced graphs from which we derived the current trends. In our calculations we used these trend results. Because there is some spread in the data, actual values for a certain year may differ somewhat from the ones used. The graphs we present will show how much uncertainty this implies.
Throughout this contribution we use GWy (gigawatt-year) as the unit of electric energy and caloric energy. Power is expressed in GWe (gigawatt-electric) (15).
Contribution to the national electricity production in 2010 from trends.
other energy carriers
During the whole period domestic demand exceeded national production. The Netherlands was a net importer of electricity. The situation is changing however. Capacity was augmented and we expect the country to be a net exporter of electricity by 2012. We depict some characteristics in the next four graphs.
1. national production capacity
2. national electricity consumption
3. fossil production
4. renewable production
Efficiency is a crucial issue with electricity production. The CBS offers data about fuel consumption in caloric units (TJ) for the different fuels used. There are also data about the fuel consumption of different installations. But analysis is complicated by the fact that nowadays many generating units use fuel mixes. E.g. Steam turbines, once only coal fired, now have extensions for gas. Some Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT) use waste industrial gas, which they top up with natural gas. And even the dominant generating type of Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) may get some primary energy from burning coal.
Efficiency of conventional electricity generation, η, is defined as:
Windturbines convert wind energy directly into electric energy. There is a theoretical value for the fraction of wind energy a turbine can extract under favourable conditions. However, when the wind is not strong enough, the turbines produce less or even nothing at all. When the wind is too strong the turbines have to be stopped, also then there is no production. Therefore a capacity factor is used. It is defined as:
We present some of the relevant CBS data in the next series of graphs.
5. efficiency total fossil fuels
6. capacity factor all wind turbines
7. coal efficiency
8. natural gas efficiency
The electricity production using natural gas is mostly by CCGTs. Then there is a contribution by gas engines and finally by OCGTs. The separate contributions are depicted in figure 9.
9. production by different types of gas-fueled generators
Properties of the dominant generators in the Netherlands when operating under design conditions are as follows:
CCGT. For older types η ≈ 0,55. The newest types have η ≈ 0,60. The capacity has been extended by adding the more efficient types. Over the whole period one might expect about 40% replacement by the newer types. The present average efficiency is therefore estimated to reach η ≈ 0,59 (16).
The steam turbines are mainly coal fired. Their η ≈ 0,455 (16).
The OCGT number shows some increase, although the intention is to use them less because of their low efficiency, which have η ≈ 0,32 (16).
One can speculate about the reasons for adding yet more OCGT generators. One reason could be the need to compensate for rapid variations caused by windpower. They are also used in connection with low caloric waste gas of the steel mills. Given that the steel mills have not increased in capacity, this is therefore not the driver to install more of them.
The gas engine is popular among small industrial companies and the agricultural sector. η varies much with the size: ≈ 0,26-0,45 (17).
The nuclear reactor shows a stable behavior. After a renovation around 2007 a steady η of about 0,348 rose stepwise to 0,377 (18), where it remains.
No generator works all year round at design capacity. Repairs and normal maintenance prevent this. Taking this into account the data show that coal fired generation and the nuclear installation perform as expected. They are used as ‘must run’ units providing power in the range not affected by daily or even seasonal variations. The difference between their actual performance and the theoretical one under design conditions is small. It can be attributed to these normal maintenance windows stops and some minor contribution to demand variations.
For the gas segment this is different. Taking into account the numbers of different generator types, we would expect η to be 0,51. The actual efficiency according to the national CBS data is ≈ 0,394, i.e. about 12% less. This cannot be explained by repairs and maintenance alone. Here we see the influence of ramping: lowering and raising the production and of multiple stops and start-ups in order to cope with variations in demand and variations in supply by the increase in irregular production such as wind power.
In former discussions with the responsible Minister we were told that these variations would not adversely affect the efficiency by more than 1 or 2%. The actual data show that these effects have much more influence.
Stops and starts and steep ramp ups/downs influence the efficiency much more than 2%. This raises the question what the effect of wind electricity really is and how much it impacts the consumption of fossil fuel?
Fossil fuel saving by renewables
In order to compute the efficiency with which electricity produced by renewables saves fossil fuel, we write the national production, E(t), as sum of its components:
E(t) = ∑ Ei(t)
where: i = f (fossil-fuel produced electricity), n (nuclear ibid), r (renewables ibid), o (other energy carriers ibid).
From the CBS data we derive the trends over the period 1998-2010:
Ef(t) = 0,1547 × Yr − 299,99 (fig. 3)
En(t) = 0,0023 × Yr − 4,1561 (fig. 10 below)
Er(t) = 0,0907 × Yr − 180,5 (fig. 4)
Eo(t) = 0,0042 × Yr − 8,11 (fig. 11 below)
E (t) = 0,252 × Yr − 493,49 (fig. 12 below)
Yr = 1998, 1999, …, 2010.
The unit of energy = GWy.
NB. Adding the four components would result in:
E (t) = 0,2519 × Yr − 492,7561
The difference is due to rounding and is not visible in the graph.
The electricity production is growing (dE(t)/dt). The annual increment being ΔE = 0,252 GWy.
ΔE = ∑ ΔEi
ΔEf = 0,155 GWy
ΔEn = 0,002 GWy
ΔEr = 0,091 GWy
ΔEo = 0,004 GWy
In order to realize the same growth without renewable contribution, the fossil contribution would have to increase: ΔE′f = 0,155 + 0,091 = 0,246 GWy. The incremental saving of fossil fuel by renewables is due to 0,091 GWy of electric energy. If this would be 100% effective, we would see a caloric saving equal to 0,091/ηe,f(t). The CBS data let us calculate ηe,f:
ηe,f(t) = 0,0019 × Yr − 3,425 (fig. 5)
yielding: ηe,f(2010) = 0,394. As a result this fuel saving would be equivalent to its caloric content: 0,091 / 0,394 = 0,231 GWy.
The CBS data also allow us to calculate what this contribution actually does. The consumption of fossil fuel, If(t), is among the Statline data provided:
If(t) = 0,2774 × Yr − 529,23 GWy (fig. 13 below)
This means that at present the system needs an annual increment of fuel equivalent to:
ΔIf(2010) = 0,2774 GWy.
Under the same circumstances an increase of fossil produced electricity of 0,246 GWy in stead of 0,155 GWy would require:
ΔIf′(2010) = 0,246 × 0,277 / 0,155 = 0,440 GWy
which is 0,440 − 0,277 = 0,173 GWy more than at present.
The 0,091 GWy renewable incrementally produced electricity therefore does not save 0,231 GWy but 0,173 GWy, which means it is 0,173 / 0,231 = 75% effective.
Please note: the validity of the differential approach to the whole of the developments rests on the data. All but the total capacity and the change in import/export (not shown) can be represented by linear trends. The two exceptions were not used in the calculations. Renewables were virtually not on the scene before 1998.
10. nuclear electricity production
11. electricity from other sources
12. national electricity production
13. consumption of fossil fuel
Fossil fuel saving by wind power
The electricity production of other renewables than wind and biomass is negligible. PV solar – another intermittent source, which could influence normal conventional production – contributes < 0,5% of all renewable production. Hydro makes about 1% and is not considered a disturbing contributor.
So for the time being we deal only with wind and biomass, presently contributing 0,49 GWy and 0,73 GWy respectively.
Biomass. We have not investigated the merits and problems of biomass-produced electricity as thoroughly as we did with wind for obvious reasons. We suppose the conversion of liquid or gas fuel obtained from bio-material into electricity to be similar to the conversion of fossil fuels. If any problem exists, it is with the process of turning biomass into these fuels, i.e. a problem preceding the electricity production proper. There is no problem with random electricity supply variations. Bio-fuel can be stored. The generating equipment is also the same.
If biomass does have issues these are problems arising before it has been made into fuel. They are not visible in the Statline statistics dealing with electricity. One could think of costs – also energy costs – connected with collecting bio-waste, producing energy-rich crops, fertilizers, harvesting etc. There are other considerations regarding the competition with food production, acquiring soil to grow them and so on. We have studied the contents of a recent lecture on bio fuels by H.O. Voorma in which he outlines possibilities and difficulties of producing enough biomass for energy purposes (19). We understand there are quite some technological difficulties to tackle before biomass can be counted on in sufficient quantity to substantially fill our energy needs. We would add that it is necessary, as with other renewables, to do thorough energy studies of the whole chain in advance, before we decide to apply biomass on a large scale. If not, we cannot exclude that what is advocated as a solution, will turn out to be an expensive hoax, costing more in terms of energy than it delivers.
For the present study this is of no relevance. Bio-fuel is available in small quantities and it can be used in a conventional way to produce electricity. Apart from economic matters like costs, it is a matter of straightforward reliable operation based on known techniques. Therefore we assume that producing bio-based electricity is not different from that with fossil fuel. I.e. producing according to demand. This is a very important consideration, because it implies that adding bio electricity to the grid, does not impair the functioning and efficiency of other units.
Thus the reduction of the efficiency when adding renewable electricity to the grid, which we calculated in the preceding section, cannot be attributed to bio electricity. It must be solely due to the intermittent character of wind power (6).
The (trend) share of wind electricity equals 0,492 GWy, that of biomass: 0,732 GWy in 2010. Together this amounts to 1,224 GWy. 75% of this amount is actually saving fossil fuel. This reduces the saving of fossil produced electricity to 0,75 × 1,224 = 0,918 GWy. The addition of bio-electricity is assumed to be 100% effective. This leaves for wind: 0,918 − 0,732 = 0,186 GWy of electricity saving. This should be compared with the actual 0,492 GWy fed into the grid by wind developments. This leads to the conclusion:
Wind electricity. However, there is another catch, which does not show up in the Statline statistics. The construction of windturbines, their installation, grid adaptation and connection require considerable investments of energy. Some think these costs should not be taken into account because that is also not done for conventional plants. This is erroneous. Conventional plants are being installed to produce electricity according to societal demand. Wind turbines are not. They are being added to the system in order to save fuel and to diminish CO
2 emissions. The question of whether they actually do therefore becomes essential. If not, they would only be superfluous supplements adding to the investment and other costs of the system.
The matter of energy costs associated with wind developments is another topic about which there is much dispute. The marketing blurb on wind electricity would have us believe that a wind turbine earns its energy investment back in about one half year of production. This is contrary to our findings. According to research done by one of the main contractors installing windturbines in the Netherlands and abroad, it takes about 1,5 year to earn this energy investment back (20). A more recent Australian study, analysed by F. Udo, shows an earn back period of 2,8 year (21)(!). (In this study the energy costs of on shore grid adaptation were included. Off shore requires more energy. On the other hand distances in Australia are larger than in the Netherlands.)
Let us consider the additional investment in the grid in the Netherlands. Connecting wind developments to the grid in terms of money is almost as costly as the construction and installation of the turbines themselves. This is the case for onshore and offshore systems taken together. In addition, the grid itself has to be re-enforced. In Germany recent estimates predict an extra 4000 km high-Voltage lines have to be installed to handle wind production. The problem of overproduction when there is adequate wind and the need to import electricity when there is a shortage, require regions to be connected. The Netherlands has for that purpose recently laid two under-sea cables, one to Norway and one to the UK. Combining all those adjustments we conclude that the 1,5 year “earn back time” should at least be doubled.
Another dispute continues about the expected lifetime of wind turbines and their additions. Promotors of wind turbines state a life time of 25 year. But the experience in the Netherlands is that wind developments had already to be renewed after only 12 year of operation. Sharman reported that the useful lifetime of wind turbines in Denmark is between 10 and 15 year (11).
Therefore we conclude that the energy investment should be discounted over a useful lifetime of 15 year. The total “earn back time” for wind developments is 3 year. Combining these figures means that the net amount of savings of fossil fuel for producing electricity should be cut down by 20% of the gross production of wind electricity.
Conclusion and outlook
Adding it all up, one must conclude that under the present conditions in the Netherlands a 100 MW (Megawatt) ‘name plate’ capacity wind development produces on average 23 MW because of the capacity factor. 4,6 MW (20%) of this has to be subtracted from the final net result because of initial energy investments. From the actual Statline production figures we know that 38% of this 23 MW = 8,74 MW represents the actual fossil fuel and CO2 savings. But from this figure we need to subtract the amount of energy invested in the construction works: 4,6 MW. The net total of fuel saving electricity provided by our windturbines therefore is 8,74 – 4,6 = 4,14 MW on average over the year. That is ~4% of the installed capacity. It makes wind developments a Mega money pit with virtually no merit in terms of the intended goal of CO2 emission reduction or fossil fuel saving.
What is going to happen next? The current plan is to extend wind capacity to 8 GW onshore and 4 GW offshore. Presently wind capacity is about 15% of the domestic electricity consumption. If the capacity exceeds 20% we enter into a new phase in which curtailment sets in: there wil be periods in which the grid simply cannot absorb the supply. This situation already exists in Denmark and Ireland. Then we shall see a further dramatic decrease of the fuel-replacing effectiveness. In a previous study (6), we used a model in which the most favorable scenario had a windpenetration of 20%. We found that in that case savings were already negative, which means that wind developments actually caused an increase in fossil fuel consumption. The present study based on actual data shows that we are well on the way to reach that stage.
August 15, 2012.
Nederlandse origineel (pdf): Brandstofbesparing door windmolens bij de Nederlandse elektriciteits-voorziening.
Notes and references
This article is a shortened version of a report in Dutch: ‘Brandstofbesparing bij de Nederlandse elektriciteitsvoorziening’ sent to the Netherlands Government and Parliament in August 2012. Parts usually well known to insiders have been left out.
C. le Pair & K. de Groot: The impact of wind generated electricity on fossil fuel consumption. http://www.clepair.net/windefficiency.html
K. de Groot & C. le Pair: The hidden fuel costs of wind generated electricity; Spil 263-264(2009) nr.5, 15/17 & http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html
F. Udo, K. de Groot & C. le Pair: Wind turbines as a source of electricity; http://www.clepair.net/windstroom%20e.html
F. Udo: Wind energy in the Irish power system; http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
C. le pair: Electricity in The Netherlands; Wind turbines increase fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emission; http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html
F. Udo: Wind energy and CO2 emissions – 2; http://www.clepair.net/Udo-okt-e.html
C. le Pair, F. Udo & K. de Groot: Windturbines as yet unsuitable as electricity providers;
Europhysicsnews 43 (2012) nr.2, p. 22/5 & http://www.clepair.net/europhysics201203.html.
F. Udo: Curtailment in the Irish power system; http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html
W. Post, many contributions on The Energy Collective; http://theenergycollective.com/index.php?q=willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
H. Sharman: Wind Energy, the case of Danmark; http://www.CEPOS.dk; download: http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf
P.F. Bach (on his website): http://pfbach.dk
BENTEK: How less became more. Wind, Power and unintended consequences in the Colorado Energy Market, 2010. http://www.bentekenergy.com
CBS, Statline: http://statline.cbs.nl/StatWeb/dome/default.aspx
1 GWy = 1 000 000 × 24 × 365 kWh. 1 kWh = 1000 × 3600 J. J = Joule. 1 TJ = 1012 J
G. Dijkema, Z. Lukszo, A. Verkooijen, L. de Vries, M. Weijnen: De regelbaarheid van elektrische centrales; een quickscan i.o.v. het Ministerie van Economische zaken, 20 april 2009.
Priv. comm. Borssele.
H.O. Voorma: Biobrandstoffen, lecture Zeist, 2012 04 18. Prof. (em) dr. Voorma, biochemist, former Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University
(2), note 13.
Lenzen, M.: Life cycle energy and greenhouse emissions of nuclear energy: a review; p. 137 ff. & Energy conversion and management 49 (2008) 2178-2199, download: http://www.isa.org.usyd.edu.au/. See also http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/18/tcase4/.