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Unless indicated otherwise, documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are shared here to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate. • The copyrights reside with the sources indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations.

Date added:  July 5, 2022
Emissions, U.S.Print storyE-mail story

No emission reduction gained from increasing wind and solar

Author:  Stevenson, David

I continued my ongoing analysis of electric generation in the PJM regional grid where Delaware is a participant. I wanted to share the results of how much wind and solar power was generated in the region from 2019 to 2021.

From 2019 to 2021, wind and solar power generation increased by 30% but had no impact on carbon dioxide emissions (CO₂).

PJM is the largest regional grid in the country, serving 65 million people in thirteen mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states generating 22% of US electricity. Emissions did fall 0.8% over the period but were entirely due to an almost one-to-one replacement of high-emission coal with lower-emission natural gas.

This is a huge failure since emissions reduction is the only purpose of the rush to use more wind and solar-powered generation. These power sources are poor technologies no one would use without permanent government mandates, massive subsidies, and punishing taxes on carbon-based fuels that add $1 billion a year in power cost just in PJM.

Most wind generation occurs when it is least needed, and most solar generation occurs in about 6 hours a day, and both are very intermittent with wide seasonal variation. They are also non-recyclable, have one-third to one-half the productive life spans of alternative power sources, and take up a lot of ground.

Why are we using wind and solar if it doesn’t reduce CO₂ emissions?

An 8.1 million megawatt-hour (MWh) increase in wind and solar power generation replaced a 6.8 million MWh decline in zero-emission nuclear and hydroelectric power and covered a 1.3 MWh increase in PJM demand. Most of the decline in nuclear power resulted from the closure of the last Three Mile Island generating unit. Nuclear power plants are not competing well against subsidized wind power.

Emissions fell 2.8 million metric tons, or 0.8%, but would have fallen 8 million tons, or 2.5%, had emission rates by fuel followed the 2019 experience. The reasons for the difference between the actual emission reductions and theoretical emission reductions are instructive.

First, as intermittent power use increases, fast-reacting “peaking” generators are used more frequently to cover power shortfalls. These generators are inefficient, oil and natural gas-fueled units with high emission rates. Oil-based peaking generation increased 76% and emitted an extra 0.7 million tons in 2021 due to more wind and solar power.

On average natural gas emits about 40% of the CO₂ as coal for each MWh generated. However, coal plants are not designed to start and stop efficiently.

The chart below shows a curve of how emission rates rise as much as double as generation rates fall.

Source: RGGI, Inc.: RGGI COATS Platform

Coal generation fell over 7% from 2019 to 2021, mostly from power plants generating less often than from power plants shutting down completely. Emissions should have fallen at the same 7% reduction rate as generation but only fell by 3.7%, about half the expected amount.

The results of my analysis are surprising as past studies of emission reductions by the US Energy Information Agency show falling electric industry emission rates could be attributed only about 68% to fuel switching to natural gas while new wind and solar impacted the rest. The use of high emission electric generation fuels has fallen 63% since 2005.

We may be seeing a new era where expanding wind and solar generation is routinely more likely to replace zero and low-emission power sources as they displace high emission sources. If that is the case, it may be time to end wind and solar mandates and subsidies.

—David T. Stevenson, Director
Center for Energy & Environmental Policy
Caesar Rodney Institute, Delaware
June 20, 2022

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Date added:  June 5, 2022
Illinois, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Curtailment and acoustic deterrents reduce bat mortality at wind farms

Author:  Good, Rhett; et al.

Abstract – The impacts of wind energy on bat populations is a growing concern because wind turbine blades can strike and kill bats, and wind turbine development is increasing. We tested the effectiveness of 2 management actions at 2 wind-energy facilities for reducing bat fatalities: curtailing turbine operation when wind speeds were <5.0 m/second and combining curtailment with an acoustic bat deterrent developed by NRG Systems. We measured the effectiveness of the management actions using differences in counts of bat carcasses quantified by daily and twice-per-week standardized carcass searches of cleared plots below turbines, and field trials that estimated searcher efficiency and carcass persistence. We studied turbines located at 2 adjacent wind-energy facilities in northeast Illinois, USA, during fall migration (1 Aug–15 Oct) in 2018. We estimated the effectiveness of each management action using a generalized linear mixed-effects model with several covariates. Curtailment alone reduced overall bat mortality by 42.5% but did not reduce silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) mortality. Overall bat fatality rates were 66.9% lower at curtailed turbines with acoustic deterrents compared to turbines that operated at manufacturer cut-in speed. Curtailment and the deterrent reduced bat mortality to varying degrees between species, ranging from 58.1% for eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis) to 94.4 for big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Hoary (Lasiurus cinereus) and silver-haired bat mortality was reduced by 71.4% and 71.6%, respectively. Our study lacked a deterrent-only treatment group because of the expense of acoustic deterrents. We estimated the additional reduction in mortality with concurrent deployment of the acoustic deterrent and curtailment under the assumption that curtailment and the acoustic deterrent would have reduced mortality by the same percentage at adjacent wind-energy facilities. Acoustic deterrents resulted in 31.6%, 17.4%, and 66.7% additional reductions of bat mortality compared to curtailment alone for eastern red bat, hoary bat, and silver-haired bat, respectively. The effectiveness of acoustic deterrents for reducing bat mortality at turbines with rotor-swept area diameters >110 m is unknown because high frequency sound attenuates quickly, which reduces coverage of rotor-swept areas. Management actions should consider species differences in the ability of curtailment and deterrents to reduce bat mortality and increase energy production.

Rhett E. Good, Goniela Iskali, John Lombardi, Trent McDonald, Karl Dubridge, Andrew Tredennick, Western EcoSystems Technology
Michael Azeka, EDF Renewables

The Journal of Wildlife Management, 08 May 2022, doi:10.1002/jwmg.22244

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Date added:  June 5, 2022
Europe, Germany, Law, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Wind turbines without curtailment produce large numbers of bat fatalities throughout their lifetime: A call against ignorance and neglect

Author:  Voight, Christian, et al.

Abstract – Bats are protected by national and international legislation in European countries, yet many species, particularly migratory aerial insectivores, collide with wind turbines which counteracts conservation efforts. Within the European Union it is legally required to curtail the operation of wind turbines at periods of high bat activity, yet this is not practiced at old wind turbines. Based on data from the national carcass repository in Germany and from our own carcass searches at a wind park with three turbines west of Berlin, we evaluated the magnitude of bat casualties at old, potentially poor-sited wind turbines operating without curtailment. We report 88 documented bat carcasses collected by various searchers over the 20-year operation period of this wind park from 2001 to 2021. Common noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula) and common pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) were most often found dead at these turbines. Our search campaign in August and September 2021 yielded a total of 18 carcasses. We estimated that at least 209 bats were likely killed during our field survey, yielding more than 70 casualties/wind turbine or 39 casualties/MW in two months. Since our campaign covered only part of the migration season, we consider this value as an underestimate. The 20-year period of the wind park emphasises the substantial impact old turbines may have on bat individuals and populations when operating without curtailments. We call for reconsidering the operation procedures of old wind turbines to stop the continuous loss of bats in Germany and other countries where turbine curtailments are even less practiced than in Germany.

Christian C. Voigt, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany
Klara Kaiser, Samantha Look, Freie Universitäat Berlin, Germany
Kristin Scharnweber, Carolin Scholz, Universität Potsdam, Germany

Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 37, September 2022, e02149

Download original document: “Wind turbines without curtailment produce large numbers of bat fatalities throughout their lifetime: A call against ignorance and neglect

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Date added:  May 13, 2022
U.K., WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Impact assessments of wind farms on seabird populations that overlook existing drivers of demographic change should be treated with caution

Abstract – Population viability analyses (PVA) are now routinely used during the consenting process for offshore wind energy developments to assess potential impacts to vulnerable species, such as seabirds. These models are typically based on mean vital rates, such as survival and fecundity, with some level of environmental stochasticity (i.e., temporal variation). However, many species of seabird are experiencing population decline due to temporal (i.e., directional) trends in their vital rates. We assess the prevalence of temporal trends in rates of fecundity for a sentinel species of seabird, the black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, and examine how accounting for these relationships affects the predictive accuracy of PVA, as well as the projected population response to an extrinsic threat. We found that temporal trends in kittiwake rates of fecundity are widespread, and that including these trends in PVA assessments dramatically influences the projected rate of population decline. We advocate that model validation become a prerequisite step in seabird PVA assessments to identify potential biases influencing the projected population response. We also argue that environmental factors driving current population dynamics need to be incorporated in PVA impact assessments as potential “worst-case” scenarios. These findings have immediate application for improving and reducing uncertainty in impact assessments conducted as part of the consenting process for offshore wind energy developments.

a) Temporal (i.e., directional) trends in rates of fecundity are widespread amongst populations of kittiwakes in the UK and Ireland. Colonies with significant temporal trends in fecundity shown as red circles, those with stable fecundity shown as blue triangles. Skomer (South Wales) shown as an open red circle. (b) Fecundity of kittiwakes on Skomer Island declined at a constant rate between 1989 and 2020. Dashed line shows a linear regression fitted through the data. (c) We found high variation in the strength of temporal trends estimated using colony-specific Poisson GLMs. Slope coefficient values shown with standard error. Colonies with directional fecundity shown as red circles, those with stable fecundity shown as blue triangles. Skomer shown as open red circle. Gray dashed line at zero for reference.

Catharine Horswill, ZSL Institute of Zoology, London, Centre for Biodiversity and Environmental Research, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, and Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK
Julie A.O. Miller, Marine Scotland Science, Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen, UK
Matt J. Wood, School of Natural and Social Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK

Conservation Science and Practice. 13 March 2022. doi: 10.1111/csp2.12644

Download original document: “Impact assessments of wind farms on seabird populations that overlook existing drivers of demographic change should be treated with caution

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