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Resource Documents — latest additions

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 27, 2022
Aesthetics, Environment, Ontario, PhotosPrint storyE-mail story

Henvey Inlet – construction photos

Author:  Pattern Canada, Pattern Energy GroupPattern Canada, Pattern Energy Group

Control building footings

Substation foundation

Drilling rock anchors of turbine foundation

Excavation

Substation excavation

Substation

(87 3.45-MW Vestas V136 wind turbines)

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Date added:  July 23, 2022
Germany, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Activity of forest specialist bats decreases towards wind turbines at forest sites

Author:  Ellerbrok, Julia; Delius, Anna; Peter, Franziska; Farwig, Nina; and Voigt, Christian

Abstract

Worldwide, wind turbines are increasingly being built at forest sites to meet the goals of national climate strategies. Yet, the impact on biodiversity is barely understood. Bats may be heavily affected by wind turbines in forests, because many species depend on forest ecosystems for roosting and hunting and can experience high fatality rates at wind turbines.

We performed acoustic surveys in 24 temperate forests in the low mountain ranges of Central Germany to monitor changes in the acoustic activity of bats in relation to wind turbine proximity, rotor size, vegetation structure and season. Call sequences were identified and assigned to one of three functional guilds: open-space, edge-space and narrow-space foragers, the latter being mainly forest specialists.

Based on the response behaviour of bats towards wind turbines in open landscapes, we predicted decreasing bat activity towards wind turbines at forest sites, especially for narrow-space foragers.

Vertical vegetation heterogeneity had a strong positive effect on all bats, yet responses to wind turbines in forests varied across foraging guilds. Activity of narrow-space foragers decreased towards turbines over distances of several hundred metres, especially towards turbines with large rotors and during mid-summer months. The activity of edge-space foragers did not change with distance to turbines or season, whereas the activity of open-space foragers increased close to turbines in late summer.

Synthesis and applications. Forest specialist bats avoid wind turbines in forests over distances of several hundred metres. This avoidance was most apparent towards turbines with large rotors. Since forests are an important habitat for these bats, we advise to exclude forests with diverse vegetation structure as potential wind turbine sites and to consider compensation measures to account for habitat degradation associated with the operation of wind turbines in forests.

Julia S. Ellerbrok, Conservation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Marburg, and Evolutionary Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany

Anna Delius, Conservation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Marburg, Germany

Franziska Peter, Natural Resource Conservation, University Kiel, Germany

Nina Farwig, Conservation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Marburg, Germany

Christian C. Voigt, Evolutionary Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany

Journal of Applied Biology: 09 July 2022, doi:10.1111/1365-2664.14249

Download original document: “Activity of forest specialist bats decreases towards wind turbines at forest sites

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Date added:  July 17, 2022
Emissions, Environment, ScotlandPrint storyE-mail story

Quantifying the land-based opportunity carbon costs of onshore wind farms

Author:  Albanito, Fabrizio; et al.

Highlights

Abstract

The development of onshore wind energy impacts the land where it is constructed, together with competition for natural resources between the energy and land sector. The loss of terrestrial carbon stocks and ecosystem services from land use change to wind farms can be interpreted as the opportunity cost that landowners give up by choosing to construct wind farms on their land. Here, we spatially quantify the impact onshore wind farms have on land when we factor in the opportunity carbon (C) costs. We found that the construction of 3848 wind turbines in Scotland generated 4.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from land use change. On average the emission intensity of land use change in peatland is 560 g CO₂ kWh−1, in forestry is 88 g CO₂ kWh−1, in cropland is 45 g CO₂ kWh−1, and in pastureland is 30 g CO₂ kWh−1. In the worst land use change scenario, the displacement of Dystrophic basin peat habitats generated 1760 g CO₂ kWh−1, which is comparable to the life cycle emissions of fossil-fuel technologies such as coal and gas-fired electricity generation. In arable land, the loss of harvestable crop to wind power was forfeited for a gain in opportunity costs up to £15.4 million over a 25 year operating life. Considering the short-term value of CO₂ in the trading market, the opportunity carbon costs of onshore wind farms can range from £0.3 to £65.0 per MWh of electricity generated per year. These findings highlight that the preservation of terrestrial carbon stocks and crop production in the land sector require the development of new payment schemes that can compete economically against the monetary benefits that landowners can access from lease agreements agreed with energy companies. This ensures also that wind turbines are geographically placed to protect ecosystem C stocks, and to minimize the carbon intensity of the electricity generated.

Fabrizio Albanito, Anita Shepherd, Astley Hastings, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, Scotland
Sam Roberts, Pryor & Rickett Silviculture, Lugwardine, Hereford, UK

Journal of Cleaner Production
Volume 363, 20 August 2022, 132480
doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.132480

Download original document: “Quantifying the land-based opportunity carbon costs of onshore wind farms

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Date added:  July 5, 2022
Emissions, VirginiaPrint storyE-mail story

Virginia and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Author:  Stevenson, David

Virginia Governor Northam led the Commonwealth into the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). I conducted a multi-state study, updated for Virginia, which came to the same conclusion as a Congressional Research Center study [1]. The dozen-year-old RGGI program has resulted in no significant additional emission reduction compared to comparison states, but did shift generation to other states. Virginia electric generation fell 9% in the first ten months of 2021 despite a 7% increase in demand as the purchase of RGGI allowances began. Virginia natural gas fired power plants lost against regional electric grid bids from non-carbon tax states with 10% to 13% lower cost as shown in the following table [2].

Fuel Source 2021 MWh 2020 MWh Difference % Change
Coal 2,785,000 2,891,000 (106,000) −4%
Natural Gas 45,673,000 54,297,000 (8,624,000) −16%
Petroleum 291,000 174,000 117,000 67%
Other Gases 438,000 461,000 (23,000) −5%
Total Fossil Fuel 49,187,000 57,823,000 (8,636,000) −15%
Nuclear 23,846,000 24,734,000 (888,000) −4%
Net Hydro 614,000 775,000 (161,000) −21%
Biomass 2,898,000 2,870,000 28,000 1%
Solar 3,170,000 1,348,000 1,822,000 135%
Total Zero CO₂ 30,528,000 29,727,000 801,000 3%
Total 79,715,000 87,550,000 (7,835,000) −9%
Electric Demand 103,768,000 97,336,000 6,432,000 7%
October year to date totals from US EIA Electric Power Monthly

The RGGI program requires power plants to buy emission allowances for each ton of CO₂ emissions with allowances sold in quarterly auctions. Speculators can participate and potentially resell allowances at higher prices. Virginia power plants will lose about $330 million in generation revenue in 2021 (9.4 million lost MWh annualized @ $35/MWh). The loss of in state generation will continue to rise as RGGI allowance prices rise. A study of the RGGI state of Delaware showed natural gas generation could fall to zero at a $16/ton allowance price (see graph below). Generation will likely shift out of Virginia much faster than new wind and solar generation can be built.

Source: power use from US EIA detailed state data, allowance prices from RGGI auction results

The first question to consider is how Virginia emissions reductions compare to the RGGI states from 2007 to 2019:

It is no surprise Virginia had a higher rate of reduction in emissions than RGGI states as that was similar to the conclusion of my peer reviewed study published in the Cato Journal, “A Review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” [1]. RGGI had essentially no impact on emissions reductions compared to five other states who had similar energy policies except for RGGI. Consequently, there will likely be no environmental benefits from Virginia joining RGGI.

Importing power adds cost to cover the greater transmission distances and congestion at key transmission sub-stations. Well-paying jobs at the power plants would be lost, and that has secondary impacts on the economy. The direct cost of RGGI is currently about $58/year based on a Dominion Power rate increase request to the utility commission of $4.37/Megawatt-hour [4], and an average monthly usage of 1.1 megawatt- hour per month [5]. A large industrial customer using 6,000 Megawatt-hours a month in a utility commission example would pay about $315,000/year in 2022 for RGGI.

Allowance prices averaged $9.60/ton in 2021 and ended the year at $13 [6], and resulted in $128 million in costs added to electric bills. RGGI, Inc. itself shows prices rising to as much as $24/ton [7] by 2030. RGGI costs may average $250 million a year through 2030 based on the RGGI upper end forecast, or $2.5 billion over 10 years. RGGI, Inc. raised $284 million in RGGI auction revenue which was added to electric bills, and claims to have saved $112 million on electric bills by investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and greenhouse gas abatement [8]. Our analysis [1] showed the savings estimates are questionable as no robust auditing has been done on the supposed savings, or of how money was spent. For example the RGGI report shows Connecticut invested money, but in actuality the state directed RGGI revenue to its general fund. In any case the supposed savings were insignificant. Energy efficiency and renewable energy savings represented 0.09% of RGGI state electric generation in 2019.

Joining RGGI would require electric generators to reduce CO₂ emissions 65% from 2007 levels, or an additional 13 million tons by 2030. In 2020 coal fired power plants emitted 4.5 million tons of CO₂. Closing those power plants would meet 35% of the emissions goal. Electric generation would fall 3.3 million Megawatt-hours. That is lost power plant generation worth about $115 million (3.3 million MWh @ $35/MWh). Decommissioning costs for those power plants would be about $325 million [9]. Coal production in Virginia would fall about 1.8 million tons a year currently worth $90 million a year [10] at $50/ton.

The balance of the emission reduction would have to come from natural gas fired plants reducing generation by about 19.3 million Megawatt-hours. Lost generation would be worth about $675 million a year by 2030 (19.3 million MWh @ $35/MWh). Virginia produces enough natural gas to generate 14.7 million megawatt-hours of natural gas that should be worth an average of $500,000 a year a year by 2030 [10]. By 2030 35% of Virginia natural gas generation would have to close with a decommissioning cost of $83 million [8].

The average annual cost between now and 2030 of lost generation, and lost coal and natural gas production could be as high as $560 million. RGGI expense may be $250 million a year, and there may be $400 million in one-time power plant decommissioning cost. Over 10 years RGGI might have a direct cost of $8.5 billion. Indirect and induced impacts are calculated using a regional multiplier from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is 1.2983 for utilities [11] may cost $19.5 billion to reduce emissions by about half. To go to zero emissions with RGGI alone may cost $39 billion.

The costs don’t count the impact of lost grid reliability. No longer exporting dispatchable power, and relying on intermittent wind and solar power, could cause electric grid reliability issues in the thirteen state PJM, Interconnection electric grid potentially leading to untold cost.

Notes:

1) Congressional Research Service, “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Lessons Learned and Issues for Congress”, Jonathan L. Ramseur, May 16, 2017, sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R41836.pdf . Cato Journal, “A review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative”, www.cato.org/cato-journal/winter-2018/review-regional-greenhouse-gas-initiative

2) US Energy Information Agency, Electric Power Monthly, Electric Power Monthly – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

3) Author calculation from U.S. Energy Information Agency, “Detailed State Data”, www.eia.gov/electricity/data/state/ : Emissions, Generation, Demand, and Capacity Charts by State 1990 to 2020. Inside Energy, Lost in transmission: How much electricity disappears between a power plant and your plug? www.insideenergy.org/2015/11/06/lost-in-transmission-how-much-electricity-disappears-between-a-power-plant-and-your-plug/

4) Thomas Jefferson Institute, “Youngkin to Withdraw from RGGI, End Carbon Tax”, jeffersonpolicyjournal.com/youngkin-to-withdraw-from-rggi-end-carbon-tax/

5) Virginia State Corporation Commission, Carol Meyers cost testimony on Dominion Power Integrated Resource Plan, scc.virginia.gov/docketsearch/DOCS/4p8t01!.PDF

6) Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Auction Results, www.rggi.org/auctions/auction-results

7) Draft 2017 Model Rule Policy Scenario Overview Sept. 25, 2017, page 13, www.rggi.org/sites/default/files/Uploads/Program-Review/9-25-2017/Draft_IPM_Model_Rule_Results_Overview_09_25_17.pdf

8) RGGI, Inc., “The Investment of RGGI proceeds in 2019”, www.rggi.org/sites/default/files/Uploads/Proceeds/RGGI_Proceeds_Report_2019.pdf

9) Resources for the Future, “Decommissioning US Power Plants”, Daniel Raimi, Oct. 2017, media.rff.org/documents/RFF20Rpt20Decommissioning20Power20Plants.pdf . Average cost/MW is $117,000 for coal, $15,000 for NG.

10) US EIA weekly coal production, Weekly Coal Production by State (eia.gov), coal prices, Coal prices and outlook – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas production, table_02.doc (eia.gov). Freeing Energy: “Straight Facts on the environmental impact on coal”: 1100 pounds of coal/MWh; Straight facts on the environmental impact of coal: CO₂ emissions, pollution, land, and water (freeingenergy.com)

11) U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Impact Multiplier System, composite multiplier for indirect impact of utilities is 1.2983, available by subscription service only

—1/12/2022
David T. Stevenson, Director
Caesar Rodney Institute Center for Energy Competitiveness

Download original document: “Virginia and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

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