Oct 02 2014

Wind Turbine Syndrome

It looks like sustainable energy sources are going to be playing a larger role in our energy infrastructure in the future. Wind and solar are what first come to mind, but there is also hydroelectric, geothermal, and wave-generated electricity.

With the introduction of any new technology, especially on a large scale, there are bound to be some issues. Giant wind turbines are sprouting up, and this has caused some protest among people who don’t like the presence of the behemoths near their homes. Some claim that the noise from wind turbines is causing them ill health effects.

What are the real risks and benefit of wind turbines?

Energy Production

Wind turbines are rated according to their maximum power output. Typical large wind turbines are rated at 1.5 MW, or megawatts. This is their maximum energy output, which typically occurs while the wind is blowing between 30-55 mph. There are 2-3 MW models available. Below 30 mph energy production drops off dramatically.

The wind is not always blowing, however, so the average efficiency of wind turbines is 15-30%. If we take a 1.5 MW wind turbine and assume a 25% efficiency, that’s 3,285 MWh of energy production per year.

To put that into perspective, the average American home uses 10,837 KWh of energy per year, roughly 10 MWh. So one 1.5 MW wind turbine could run about 320 homes.

One main advantage of wind turbines is that they are clean sources of energy and entirely sustainable. They do not use up any limited resources and they do not generate any pollution or greenhouse gases.

Non-Health Issues

Wind turbines, however, do cause potential problems, some related to human health and others not related. The non-health issues include being an eyesore (spoiling the landscape) and their effects on animal life.

One very real concern is that large wind turbines are a potentially life-threatening hazard to flying creatures, such as birds and bats. A review of scientific studies of the number of bird deaths caused by wind turbines estimates that  140,000 and 328,000 bird deaths are caused each year.

To put this into perspective, a study published in 2013 concluded that domestic cats kill between 1.3 and 4.0 billion birds each year. There has been some criticism of the guess-work used in this study, but even if we take the most conservative number and reduce it by an order of magnitude, that would be 130 million birds each year. That’s still 1000 times greater than the number for wind turbines.

Further, an estimated 100 million birds are killed each year by flying into windows. Again, that’s three orders of magnitude more than wind turbines. Large buildings with windows are probably more of a health hazard to birds than wind turbines.

Wind turbines may, however, pose more of a threat to bats. Estimates are between 600,000 to 900,000 bat deaths per year from wind turbines.  This may be because bats evolved behaviors to follow wind currents to find food and mates, and turbines reproduce those currents, luring bats to their deaths.

As we build a larger wind turbine infrastructure, new sites can be chosen to minimize bird and bat deaths. It might also be possible to change wind turbine characteristics so they are less deadly to flying animals, or to repel bats and birds from the area of wind turbines.

Health Impacts – Wind Turbine Syndrome?

Some people who live near wind turbines report that the low frequency sounds made by the turbines cause headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and other problems. This cluster of symptoms associated with exposure to wind turbines has been dubbed “wind turbine syndrome.”

Of course, we know from historical experience that the mere belief in a medical syndrome is not sufficient evidence to conclude that a real discrete medical entity actually exists. Belief alone is enough to drive symptoms in some individuals. Further, symptoms resulting from other causes may be falsely blamed on the syndrome that is in the popular consciousness.

What does the scientific literature have to say? A 2011 systematic review found some interesting results.

The biggest predictor of having physical symptoms that are blamed on wind turbines is annoyance at the turbines themselves. This annoyance may be due to the physical presence of the turbine itself – essentially the eyesore factor, or it may be due to the sound created by the wind turbine.

People can perceive low frequency sound if it is loud enough, over 40 decibels. This can disturb sleep, which can plausibly cause the non-specific symptoms typically blamed on wind turbine syndrome. It seems, however, that some people have symptoms because they are annoyed by the sight of the wind turbine, even when they cannot hear it.

It is also possible that even if you cannot hear the sound, the infrasound created by wind turbines can still affect the ear. This is still not clear.  Therefore, some symptoms associated with wind turbines may be due to effects on the ears, while others may be due to the annoyance factor of the constant noise.

Another study indicates that for most people traffic noise is more perceptible and annoying, although those who are especially sensitive can still pick out wind turbine noise from background traffic noise.

A very recent study is making the rounds online with headlines indicating that the study shows that wind turbines can cause hearing damage. The Daily Mail, for example, has this headline: Could living near a wind farm make you DEAF? Low frequency ‘hum’ could damage the inner ear, experts warn.

The study, however, was not a study of wind turbines. It was a study of low frequency sound and it also showed that exposure to loud infrasound could cause changes in the inner ear associated with damage – but they did not document damage itself. In the press release, however, the authors used wind turbines as an example of infrasound, and that is what the press ran with.

This study is exploratory only, showing that the effects of loud infrasound on the inner ear requires more study. No conclusions about health effects can be made, however, and again – the study did not even look specifically at wind turbines. They also used sound at 80 decibels. GE reports about its wind turbines:

The closest that a wind turbine is typically placed to a home is 300 meters or more. At that distance, a turbine will have a sound pressure level of 43 decibels. To put that in context, the average air conditioner can reach 50 decibels of noise, and most refrigerators run at around 40 decibels.

At 500 meters (0.3 miles) away, that sound pressure level drops to 38 decibels. In most places, according to Keith Longtin of GE Renewable Energy, background noise ranges from 40 to 45 decibels, meaning that a turbine’s noise would be lost amongst it. For the stillest, most rural areas, Longtin says the background noise is 30 decibels. At that level, a turbine located about a mile away wouldn’t be heard.

Studies of installed wind farms also show that most do not generate significant noise most of the time (only when wind conditions are just so). Most wind farms do not result in complaints about noise. Noise complaints from other sources, like industrial noise, are three orders of magnitude greater than from wind farms.

Conclusions

In each case it seems that complaints or potential problems from wind farms are exaggerated and when put into context are not very concerning. Wind turbines do represent a threat to birds, but this threat is insignificant compared to domestic cats and buildings with windows. The threat to bats is greater, and further research to reduce this threat is warranted.

Health effects may be real in some cases, but seem mostly to stem from the stress of the nuisance presented by wind turbines, both visual and auditory. There is not enough data to conclude at this time that wind turbines represent a direct threat to hearing or to overall health.

Further, the noise generated by wind turbines is minor when compared to traffic and industrial noise.

Any real problems from large wind turbines can be easily mitigated by choosing appropriate sites, far enough away from homes or high traffic areas for birds or bats. Design changes may also further mitigate potential problems, but more research is needed.

It seems to me that the benefits of wind turbines outweigh the risks, when those risks are put into a reasonable context.

27 responses so far

27 Responses to “Wind Turbine Syndrome”

  1. evhantheinfidelon 02 Oct 2014 at 10:34 am

    I live in Kansas, which houses lots of wind turbines (especially in the west). I don’t even consider the behemoths an eye-sore. I think they look cool! I’m not saying that this makes them good or anything, though they seem to be anyway; I’m just saying that I think people can adapt to their presence easily enough, and people who complain too loudly about how they look sound whiny and immature to me.

  2. Jim Shaveron 02 Oct 2014 at 10:56 am

    Steve, that’s a good post, as usual. I do want to point out a bit of sloppiness with units, where you write this:

    Typical large wind turbines are rated at 1.5 MWh, or megawatts per hour. This is their maximum energy output, …

    Actually, the unit MWh does not mean “megawatts per hour”, it means “megawatt hours”, or megawatts times hours. A MW is a unit of power; a MWh is a unit of energy. (Power multiplied by time equals energy.) In other words, your statement should read like this:

    “Typical large wind turbines are rated at 1.5MW. This is their maximum power output, …”

    The rest of your math in that section seems correct.

  3. carbonUniton 02 Oct 2014 at 11:12 am

    You beat me, Jim. For completeness, the unit of power is the watt which is one joule per second. So a turbine cranking out 1.5MW for an hour produced 1,500,000 joules/sec * 3600 sec = 540,000,000 joules of energy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_power

    Another concern is wildlife collisions with the blades. Bats and birds. Don’t know how they are going to solve that. Maybe attach something like those deer whistles to the blade tips? ;p
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deer_horn

  4. Steven Novellaon 02 Oct 2014 at 11:17 am

    Jim,

    You’re right. I made the correction. The reference “stated 1 MW for an hour,” which I read “per hour.”

    Thanks,

    Steve

  5. mindmeon 02 Oct 2014 at 11:19 am

    Agree with evhantheinfidel. Farm country around my home town of Windsor, Ontario has large numbers of turbines going in. It’s really a beautiful sight.

  6. carbonUniton 02 Oct 2014 at 12:15 pm

    (I see that once I found the power error, I skipped over the section on birds and bats. )
    If one wants to do apples to apples comparison on the effect on wildlife, one should tally up the damage done by conventional energy vs wind. How many animals are killed by the trucks, trains and ships transporting fossil fuels? How much habitat loss is there for mining and drilling sites, disposal of waste from those sites, rail lines, sea ports, refineries, power plant installations and all the pieces that produce and distribute conventional fuels? Wind power is practically zero foot print. Build it and you have power as long as you are willing to maintain it. No worry about price increases/shortages due to political instabilities in other countries, etc. Solar has similar properties, but does have a non-trivial, but fairly benign footprint at the generation site.

  7. BBBlueon 02 Oct 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Since most of the wind turbine farms I know of are in rather remote locations, my guess is that they kill many more raptors than do cats. Personally, I figure an eagle is worth about 1,000,000 pigeons, if not more.

    As for bats, can some sort of repellent echolocation jamming technology be far behind?

  8. ImplausibleDeniabilityon 02 Oct 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Great post, per usual. I am a long time lurker, but I finally encountered a post where I think I can contribute.

    I think the statement, “The wind is not always blowing, however, so the average efficiency of wind turbines is 15-30%,” is not entirely accurate. In fact, the link you included discusses the difference between efficiency and capacity factor. If I understand correctly, what you refer to would be considered the Capacity Factor, not the efficiency of the wind turbine. Quoted from the reference you sited, “The capacity factor is the actual output over a period of time as a proportion of a wind turbine or facility’s maximum capacity.” This seems to be how you used the figure, since you used it to estimate the total energy production for a year. The efficiency would refer to how well the turbine converts kinetic wind energy to electrical energy. Interestingly, since the mass of air leaving the turbine must be equal to the mass entering, there is a theoretical maximum efficiency (Betz’s law) of something like 59%. I think even the best turbines are only achieving ~70-80% of that maximum efficiency.

    You also mention that there are 2-3 MW models available. This is obviously true. I just wanted to share some exciting new developments (not THAT new, but still) that I learned from a project I did on wind energy in Germany. Wikipedia has a nice list of the current German wind farms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_offshore_wind_farms_in_Germany lists). In particular, the BARD Offshore 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BARD_Offshore_1) is especially interesting for a few reasons. First, it uses 5 MW turbines (80 total for a nameplate capacity of 400 MW), which is valuable because it increases the energy production per area. Second, the wind is more consistent and predictable offshore, which increases the Capacity Factor (Hooray!). And finally, the location (90 km offshore in the Baltic Sea) solves all of the health issues mentioned in your post, since they all depend on close human proximity to the turbines. It probably also solves the issue for bats, since bats tend to stay on/near land (I think).

    As a final note, a consequence of wind not always being available means that the energy is not necessarily generated when it is needed, but rather when it can be generated (there are peaks of energy use within society, such as when everyone wakes up and turns on the lights/heat/breakfast). The same is true for many green energy technologies (solar and tidal to name a couple). This means that being able to efficiently store the energy is very important. Unfortunately, that is something no one has figured out how to do well. There are clever some implementations, however. My favorite is hydroelectric pump storage, which uses excess energy to pump water uphill, effectively storing the gravitational potential energy. But, improvements in energy storage are necessary for the successful future of green energy, in my opinion.

    I hope my comment adds value to this overall post. Anyway, keep up the excellent work!

  9. The Other John Mcon 02 Oct 2014 at 12:36 pm

    You mean, like some sort of “Bat Signal”?

  10. daedalus2uon 02 Oct 2014 at 2:40 pm

    A problem is that the ultrasonic acoustic signals that bats use don’t have a long propagation distance in air.

    I think the solution to storage is to have enough wind and solar to meet peak demand, and then use off peak wind and solar to generate hydrocarbon fuels from atmospheric CO2.

  11. jsterritton 02 Oct 2014 at 3:04 pm

    @ImplausibleDeniability

    “My favorite is hydroelectric pump storage, which uses excess energy to pump water uphill.”

    This is an excellent example of how to store energy generated during peak generating periods for use in periods of low or no generation (e.g., nighttime for solar; in between tides for tidal; calm periods for wind and waves). The numbers mentioned here and elsewhere add up to considerable quantities of electricity generated by these wholly “green” technologies, some of which are considered to be in their infancy.

    Leadership is all that’s needed to spur growth and advancement in these techs. I don’t see why these exciting and virtuous technologies cannot become as profitable as carbon burners. The energy industry should be falling over each other rushing into these markets!

    On another note: I wonder if tidal barrages and lagoons will evoke the same NIMBY hypochondria as wind turbines, especially in posh places where that effect seems to be magnified, along with rapid-onset SCAWS (Sudden Concern About Wildlife Syndrome)?

  12. wfron 02 Oct 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Steve, sorry, you still have an error in the units in your third paragraph. Commenters Shaver and Unit are too polite to point this out, but I have no such qualms.

    You rightly say that wind turbines are rated according to their maximum power output. But it is wrong to assert that this is measured in megawatt-hours (MWh). A megawatt-hour is a unit of energy, and there is no limit to the amount of energy a wind turbine can produce, as long as it stays in service.

    The maximum power output of the turbine in your example should be stated as 1.5 megawatts, and this agrees with what you say in the next paragraph.

  13. Steven Novellaon 02 Oct 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Crap, you’re right. It’s fixed.

  14. tmac57on 02 Oct 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I suspect that in some circumstances,the so called ‘wind turbine syndrome’,is due in part to jealous neighbors who cannot take advantage of the ‘windfall’ of cash that comes from leasing your land for siting a turbine. Seems like I saw figures as much as $10,000 or more per turbine. Farmers with lots of acreage could have many of these on their land with little impact to their existing operations.
    Can you imagine stewing in your envy that you could not be included in that new millionaires club?

  15. BillyJoe7on 02 Oct 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Steven,

    Okay, it seems all the errors have been pointed out (and corrected, except for the efficiency/capacity confusion). Mine is probably only a minor quibble, but important if your aim is to have a world wide audience. Most of the world has actually gone metric, so if you choose to use anachronistic units (; like mph, you should at least add the kph equivalent. (It’s like announcing that it’s Autumn when, for half the world, it is actually Spring).

  16. BillyJoe7on 02 Oct 2014 at 5:55 pm

    The wind turbines are cool. In Summer we go to a place called Sandy Point which, if you exclude Wilson’s Promontory, is the southern most tip of mainland Australia. Every year we go for a walk to view the wind turbines set up in the nearby hills. Unfortunately they are not visible from the beach house.

  17. Heptronon 02 Oct 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Great article! I’ve been hoping for one on Wind Turbines for a while, and hopefully some more discussion on the SGU.
    I live in Sarnia, Ontario, which seems to have a huge number of people who hate wind turbines. Personally I think they are amazing! They are a visual representation of our ability to move towards more sustainable energy production, especially given the recent SGU Science or Fiction item about water shortages in the current mix of electricity generation.

    I’ve heard people make the argument about the health effects of wind turbines and I don’t buy them. A lot of the symptoms can be considered ‘symptoms of life’ and I feel like it’s a lot of ‘post-hoc ergo propter-hoc’ with the wind turbines. Not only that but the number of symptoms associated with wind turbines is so great (over 150) that it seems unlikely that the wind turbines would be the sole cause. It’s also interesting that some of the symptoms seem to be completely contradictory; insomnia, excess tiredness, loss of appetite, increased appetite, aggression, depression…

    I’m not saying there is zero effect, but it seems minimal. I say minimal because I remember reading 59 seconds by Richard Wiseman and he did an experiment involving infrasound at a performance hall and had to make sure that the infrasound generator he set up was not going to cause any problems with a nearby zoo.

    It doesn’t help that Health Canada decided to do a study on wind turbines and health effects by soliciting feedback. If I have no symptoms do I send in feedback saying I have experienced none? The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all this study seems to be asking for is squeaky wheels.

    Wind turbines were also a big part of the provincial election in this area of Ontario. Wind turbines were being blamed for all of the spikes in electricity rates. As of 3:00 today, 530MW out of 18386MW was coming from wind. I fail to see how 2.8% of production can cause the price of electricity to spike.

    Sorry about the rant. I could go on but I will restrain myself. 🙂

  18. SquirrelEliteon 02 Oct 2014 at 10:23 pm

    And RFK Jr doesn’t like them either

    http://grist.org/article/capecod/

    But, he lost on that one too.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/16/us/wind-farm-faa/

  19. Vinayon 02 Oct 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Should this, “This is their maximum energy output, which typically occurs…”

    Instead read: “This is their maximum power output, which typically occurs…”

    Because you’re still talking about power in megawatts here right? Not yet about energy in MWhs?

  20. Vinayon 02 Oct 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Great post as usual! Quite informative.

  21. elipalon 03 Oct 2014 at 7:35 am

    I’d like to highlight a few relevant points on understanding human impact of wind farms, as they operate in a tricky space between complex acoustics, social, perception and noise annoyance.

    In my observations there are misconstructions in the narrative around wind farm noise impacts:
    1. A fixation on ‘wind turbine syndrome’ as a product of infrasound, and mixing of infrasound with low frequency sound
    2. A misconstruing of what noise annoyance means, and its relationship to physiological impacts
    3. Attention to the variables that affect annoyance for wind turbines, without recognising that such variables are common to all types of noise and thus do not neutralise the case for potential impact. This includes variables of distribution of noise level as well as relative annoyance at a given dB level
    4. Narratives that start from a value position based on climate change and preferential energy supply, which distort evaluation of the particular local acoustic impacts (arguments of lesser evil or justification for any impact given the greater good)
    5. A failure to recognise the particular acoustic characteristics of modern wind turbines, in their environment, and en masse, when drawing reference to historical use of turbines as a case for their safety
    6. Personal anecdote based on daytime observation under particular wind conditions.

    On 1, 5 and 6: Firstly, there is no plausible mechanism for wind turbine syndrome from infrasound. The levels are just not sufficient and are at or below background from natural sources. Fear and concern around WTS leads to anxieties and a range of experienced effects that are not acoustic in origin.

    However, there are some complex acoustics with modern turbines. They:
    – can vary in the amplitude of their broadband sound output at at a rate of around 1-3Hz, causing a subtle ‘throbbing’ in the ‘swish’ noise – this can be caused by the passing of the blade by the turbine tower, and also there are potential effects as the large blades pass through different layers of air
    – seemingly can synch with each other in certain conditions including banked on a hill, potentially amplifying these amplitude modulation effects
    – will be noisier when wind levels are greater and thus background sound is noisier (from increased foliage rustle etc from the wind) but,
    – in certain conditions, may be operating at higher energy and noise output, but the impacted resident is not experiencing these elevated noise levels as they are in the lee of a hill or otherwise sheltered from the increased noise.

    Combinations of these conditions can plausibly give rise to an acoustic impact of greater detectability and annoying character than would be predicted; and one that, at night, can be vastly different in signature to that for a daytime casual listener. It is important to remember these are operating in otherwise quiet rural environments, and low frequency energy is not attenuated over distance and through buildings as much as higher frequencies are.

    These combinations of acoustic phenomena would plausibly explain some affected people reporting a thudding or throbbing noise at night, in some conditions. It could also explain those who feel a range of general symptoms associated with poor quality sleep, as moderate noise impacts can cause sleep arousal below the threshold levels for self reported awakenings. Poor sleep can cause a range of general ‘ailments’ (noting that many are not dissimilar to some in the the grab bag of symptoms for WTS).

    So, while low in dB(A) level, the character and spectrum of wind turbine noise can lead to greater annoyance than would be expected. In fact, some noise standards provide substantial ‘penalties’ (e.g. +5dB to measured noise) for ‘Special Audible Characteristics’ including amplitude modulation, but agreed standards for measurement and evaluation methods are difficult to settle on.

    However, it is important to recognise there could be substantial overlap in these plausibly justified cases of noise impact and annoyance, with cases of people reporting impact who are otherwise suffering self induced impact from the nocebo effect and the fear generated by Wind Turbine Syndrome campaigners.

    Also, there may well be people at the nexus of these two situations – hearing (either problematic or appropriately low levels) noise and being additionally fearful, amplifying effects.

    The point is, there are complex acoustic effects that are not totally understood, and, in my opinion, are largely dismissed in the fixation on non-existent WTS. However, they don’t tell the whole picture of self reported impacts given the nocebo effect.

    Now on 2 and 3: In noise circles, ‘annoyance’ doesn’t carry it’s everyday meaning. The particular pathways are under debate, but while annoyance isn’t a primary health effect, it strongly correlates with physiological effects including hypertension and increased risk of myocardial infarction. This is for any noise, not just wind turbines. In this sense, turbines are nothing special. Noise is a big public health issue, causing morbidity and mortality primarily from transport sources. Noise generally is getting increasing focus from the WHO, with EU states leading on standards.

    There are various explanations around causal chains including annoyance causing, in response to, or in parallel to physical stresses. The mechanisms aren’t so important as the associations are clear and ‘annoyance’ (along with ‘sleep disturbance’) is the general yardstick for measuring impact.

    People vary widely in their response to noise, with all sorts of individual factors including their values, attitudes, perception of, resilience, locus of control etc etc. However, at a population level, annoyance rates (% highly annoyed) is a good gauge of impact.

    Different sources lead to high rates of % highly annoyed at different sound levels. In this sense, road noise is ‘more annoying’ than rail noise at a given dB level. (The reason may be to do with the different social value placed on rail cf road.)

    Knowing these rates helps policy makers set noise standards, so that the vast majority of people are kept below the ‘highly annoyed’ state for a given noise source.

    Wind turbine noise is much more annoying than other sources, at a population level. I can’t remember the exact figures but the basic point is comparison between noise sources isn’t necessarily that useful, the better benchmark is at which level we get ‘unacceptable’ % of people highly annoyed. With wind turbines, that level (in equivalence to that for transport sources) is about 35 or 40dB – where the standards are set.

    Important to note though, that this is at a population level – with road and rail its relatively less complex as exposure of the population of concern is generally more consistent along a transport corridor. However, with wind farms the exposure varies widely, given they, and the houses, are dotted around the landscape.

    So complex prediction models are used, and factors such as payments and land leases come in as well. Now it is true that having $ for turbines makes one less annoyed, but I think this is unfairly and cruelly dismissed as evidence for impacts being merely rent seeking. In fact, this is quite comparable to the fact that while I don’t mind the roar of my air conditioner when it provides me utility, my neighbours at a much lower level may be incredibly impactful. Likewise, people more fearful of planes may find plane noise much more annoying, etc etc.

    We need to recognise these variables as the normal mix of individual responses, while recognising that at a population level there is a level that standards should set for reasonable protection.

    From this then, I would prefer to frame it as:
    – if the standards were met, there may be individuals more annoyed (and impacted) than others, all things being equal in terms of level
    – however, there is not a uniform distribution of noise levels, so some will actually objectively be more exposed than others
    – some may be subject to more extraordinary effects that standards don’t manage very well
    – some in any of these groups may have additional psychological impact from WTS fears

    We also don’t know necessarily how well regulations and regulatory bodies are even ensuring compliance in these cases, given the many acoustic complexities, the diversion with infrasound and WTS, and the individual variabilities. This isn’t to mention a general unpreparedness in the permitting/approval of wind farms for the larger and more complex turbines we use today, and the inherent difficulties in even measuring levels after turbine installation.

    The technical information document linked here has more information with references.
    http://www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/windfarms.htm

  22. rgson 03 Oct 2014 at 8:13 am

    An interesting columnist in our area (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) calls the wind turbine syndrome “an illness spread by word of mouth”. 🙂

  23. craigholmon 05 Oct 2014 at 11:22 am

    “The wind is not always blowing…So one 1.5 MW wind turbine could run about 320 homes.”

    True, if one assumes the use of a smart grid. There is no doubt in my mind that wind energy is an indispensable step toward the adoption of renewable energy. Current shortcomings of wind energy are actively being addressed.

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/04/advancements-in-wind-turbine-technology-improving-efficiency-and-reducing-cost

    I suspect we’re now using what might later be referred to as WindPower.0

  24. Kawarthajonon 06 Oct 2014 at 11:49 am

    Steve, I am again glad that you are wading into this debate. This is a very important issue in my area (northeast of Toronto), where there is aggressive (sometimes violent) opposition to wind turbines that the Provincial Government has promoted by allowing developers to receive a set (higher) amount per unit of electricity generated. IMHO, there are many good reasons to reject wind turbines, but the anti’s have created a lot of lies about the turbines (which they always call “INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES” for effect), including the following that you have not addressed:

    – Wind turbines require backup diesel engines to ensure that the blades are always spinning
    – Wind turbines leak a large quantity of oil into the surrounding soil
    – Wind turbine blades often come loose and can fly up to 1/2km before striking someone’s house
    – Wind turbines cause a myriad of health problems, including head aches, anxiety problems, heart problems, etc.

    The first three claims are simply nonsense.

    This last issue was promoted by a self-described “researcher”, Carmen Krogh, who is a retired pharmacist who used to work as an editor for the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals, the Canadian bible of prescription drugs (wind turbine health research is clearly not her area of expertise). I believe she is our new version of Dr. Magda Havas (the kook who is a “researcher” on electrosensitivity and an anti-wifi advocate). Krogh runs the website “The Society for Wind Vigilance”, in which they describe dozens of terrible symptoms associated with INDUSTRIAL wind turbines.

    During a local meeting, Krogh reluctantly acknowledged that the set-backs from residences that are mandated by the Province of Ontario mean that the loudest a turbine could be in a home is 30 decibels, about the same as a refridgerator. I’m very sceptical about whether that would cause any health effects. I have motorcyclists riding by my house every day and the windows rattle, glasses in my kitchen shake from the noise. No one is raising a stink about that. I would guess that the infrasound from traffic, especially heavy trucks, would be much louder than wind turbines, and we would have already seen widespread health effects if there really was some sort of mechanism.

  25. tder2012on 29 Oct 2014 at 5:07 pm

    The syndrome issue aside, wind turbines are promoted as a way to reduce carbon emissions of electricity generation, but this could be limited as they are intermittent and unreliable, and therefore, do not provide baseload electricity. http://decarbonisesa.com/2014/09/14/the-myth-of-the-myth-of-baseload/

    Also, where the wind is in USA means building large wind farms far from cities, therefore a reliable and resilient grid http://theenergycollective.com/jessejenkins/2142871/future-energy-will-cheap-dirt-batteries-transform-grid

  26. tder2012on 31 Oct 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Some interesting claims from this study of an actual house within 1km of wind turbines https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-turbine-annoyance-a-clue-from-acoustic-room-modes/

  27. Zhankforon 07 Mar 2016 at 9:31 am

    I see the issue of turbine impacts on bird and bat populations has been rightfully compared to the same impacts caused by fossil fuels, due to many factors, most notably habitat destruction for mining and facility construction, air pollution, and global warming. I wonder why the same hasn’t been brought up for the health issues opponents of wind power are claiming? For example, if turbines cause headaches and lost sleep, how many headaches and how much lost sleep is caused by asthma and the many other respiratory problems due to fossil fuel air pollution?

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