Wind power developer documents found lacking: engineers’ report

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Power developer project documents are missing key details, engineering firm tells Municipality of North Stormont

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont leader Margaret Benke, in Finch, Ontario: MOECC has poor track record in meeting its responsibilities

August 9, 2017

Last week, Portugal-based EDP Renewables filed documents with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) as part of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process, to get final approval for its “Nation Rise” wind power project in North Stormont, just south of Ottawa.

Using every tool they have to act responsibly on behalf of citizens, North Stormont had engaged Ottawa engineering firm Morrison Hershfield to conduct a review of the documents presented earlier.

The firm found that key information was missing from the project documents in critical areas such as the impact of the project on groundwater, and on bird and bat populations, to name two. An excerpt from the Morrison Hershfield report, tabled at a late June Council meeting, follows.

  • No review has been completed for potential impacts of the project on potable water sources. While potential impacts to groundwater resources have been reviewed from a biophysical perspective, no review has been completed to assess the potential impacts to groundwater resources from a potable water quantity and quality perspective.

No review has been completed for potential impacts of the project on prime agricultural lands (Class 1-3 agricultural soils)

Confirmation letter from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport regarding completeness of archaeological and cultural heritage assessments has not been received for the project as described in clauses 22 (a) and 23 (3) (a) of Ontario Regulation 359/09;

• Confirmation letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding completeness of natural heritage assessment and birds and bats EEMP has not been received for the project as described in clauses 28 (3) (b) and (c) of Ontario Regulation 359/09;

Significant details are missing on the project description (e.g. location and type of permanent meteorological towers & location of the 2-3 proposed staging areas of 2-7 hectares each); and

No detailed review has been completed to assess potential effects of the project construction on municipal infrastructure.

The consulting firm recommended to Council that North Stormont ask for these reports to be provided, including an assessment of impact on groundwater and municipal infrastructure such as roads.

Read the engineering firm report here.

There is no information on whether EDP complied with the request from North Stormont before filing project documents to be screened for “completeness” by the MOECC.

Citizens in the area are very concerned about the power project. Margaret Benke, a leader with Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, told Ottawa Wind Concerns “You can imagine that with 825 homes within 2km of one and up to 10 proposed turbines, and both Crysler and Finch villages within 3km of multiple turbines, we are bracing for the worst.

The group is especially concerned following release of a report by Wind Concerns Ontario in June, showing that the MOECC has failed to respond to thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines.

“We have many apprehensive citizens,” Benke said. “Unless the MOECC changes its approach, we expect that we could be treated with the same lack of respect and consideration as the 3,200 other residents of Ontario who were largely ignored.  We will continue our fight to protect our rural citizens, who deserve equal respect as citizens.”

EDP also operates the South Branch wind power project in Brinston; it took over a year to file its required acoustic audit to demonstrate compliance with provincial noise regulations for wind turbines, but there is no report posted on the company’s website.

The Nation Rise project will be 100-megawatt capacity using 30-35 industrial-scale wind turbines; Ontario currently has a surplus of electrical power and is regularly selling off extra at below-market prices, and paying wind power generators not to produce in times of low demand and high supply.

A report published by the Council for Safe a& Reliable Energy noted that 70 percent of Ontario’s wind power is wasted. (Ontario’s High-Cost Millstone, June, 2017)

Honesty required for new Environment Minister

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EDP wind turbine and home at South Branch project, Brinston, Ontario. Problems unresolved. [Photo by Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

With more wind power projects queued up for environmental approvals to produce intermittent electrical power Ontario doesn’t need, Ontario’s new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change needs a fresh approach.

The previous Minister left thousands of complaints about noise and vibration unresolved, and did not follow through on promises to help people affected by the huge wind turbine installations.

Right now, in the Ottawa area, two projects are planned: the “Eastern Fields” in The Nation and “Nation Rise” in North Stormont. Both are opposed by their communities, both projects will come with negative environmental and social impacts, and neither will produce power that’s needed.

Wind Concerns Ontario has sent a letter to the new Minister with a “To Do” list for his immediate attention.

Here it is:

To the Honourable Chris Ballard

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Queen’s Park, Toronto

Welcome to your new position as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Unfortunately, Minister Glen Murray has left you an extensive list of action items requiring your immediate follow-up. We highlight the key issues for you in the following list, related to Ontario’s energy policy and wind power projects.

White Pines – Withdraw the Renewable Energy Approval for this project as developer wpd cannot meet the terms of their contract. There are significant environmental concerns with this project that remain, even after a successful appeal by citizens before the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Amherst Island – Rescind Renewable Energy Approval for this project which is planned for the tiny island heritage community. Significant environmental risks are present including the serious impact on migrating birds that congregate in this area; Ontario does not need the power from this project.

Saugeen Shores – The single wind turbine at the Unifor educational facility has been fraught with problems and engendered hundreds of complaints about excessive noise. This turbine would not be allowed under present regulations. You can immediately address the failure to meet a June 30 deadline for submission of a compliance audit report.

K2 Wind – This is another wind power project, a large one, with many problems in its relatively short history. You can deliver on Minister Glen Murray’s mid-May commitment to Black family, and others, to provide a solution to wind turbines that MOECC testing indicated were not compliant with Ontario regulations to protect the environment and health.

Address Concerns Raised at Request of Minister Murray – Many people across Ontario took Minister Murray at his word when he said that there were no complaints reaching his office and that he would ensure his officials responded quickly to address the issues. They wrote to him and are still waiting for action on their issues.

Complaint Tracking Process – Complaint records released to WCO in response to an FOI request indicate that the MOECC does not respond to most complaints about wind turbine noise. These complaints should be a source of learning for the Ministry rather than being ignored as currently appears to be the case. A full revision of the process is needed to ensure that complaints are actually resolved with procedures that allow the Minister’s office to track resolution. MOECC records indicate little or no resolution of more than 3,100 formal Pollution Reports made by Ontario citizens between 2006 and 2014.

REA Approval Process – Increase setbacks from residences to reflect learning from MOECC complaint records that include staff reports that confirm that current regulations are not sufficient to protect health of residents living in wind projects. Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada set out standards for consultations with communities which are substantially more rigorous than the standards used for Ontario Renewable Energy Projects.

MOECC Noise Modeling Procedures – implement new noise modeling procedures based on MOECC internal testing that demonstrates wind turbines routinely exceed predicted levels.

Otter Creek – Retract decision to deem this application “complete” for the Renewable Energy Approval process. The proponent is unable to provide noise emission data for the turbine equipment proposed. The noise report submitted with the application for a REA is not grounded in fact but rather is estimates based estimates. Also, a full MOECC investigation of the impact on well water is required.

LRP I Contracts – suspend REA process for remaining LRP I projects until full review of requirements based on internal complaint records is completed.

Noise Compliance Audit Protocol – Expand the wind speeds covered under the protocol to include wind speeds below 4 metres/second which are the source of a substantial portion of complaints about excessive noise. Even MOECC testing shows these wind speeds are the source of noise levels exceeding 40 dB(A), which completely undercuts the credibility of this audit process.

REA Enforcement – REA terms make the project operator responsible for addressing the concerns raised in each complaint to ensure that it does not recur. The MOECC needs to follow up on all operating with projects to ensure compliance with these terms and take action where it is not occurring.

Shadow Flicker – The flickering shadows produced when a turbine is positioned between the rising or setting sun is a major irritant for residents. It is not considered in the REA approvals and is easy to address by turning off the turbine for the times when it is casting moving shadows on a house.  In some projects, these changes have been implemented by the wind company but in other MOECC staff is telling residents no action is required, even though the REA requires the wind company to address complaints like these.

Infrasound – Expand MOECC testing to include the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines as independent testing shows the presence of elevated levels of infrasound in homes where residents have had to leave to protect their health.

Health Studies – The Ministry has been telling residents that its policy is based on the “best science” available since the first turbine projects were built. MOECC records clearly show that this is not correct, but the Ministry continues to be willfully blind to input from both residents and its own staff, quoting dated and selective literature reviews in a field where the science is rapidly evolving.  The need for noise studies and other investigation has been highlighted in numerous reports but never undertaken.  It is time for some serious field studies of the problems being caused by wind turbine projects in rural communities across Ontario. This was an information gap identified in 2010 by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

 

Last, it is important that as you prepare for this major portfolio, you understand that industrial-scale wind power generation does NOT benefit the environment.

Wind power generation on this scale is a high-impact development for little benefit, if any. Two Auditors General for Ontario recommended that Ontario undertake a cost-benefit and/or impact analysis — that has never been done.

We ask you to approach this issue with honesty and honour, and respect the wishes of the citizens of rural Ontario.

Sincerely,

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power development on Ontario’s economy, the natural environment, and human health.

*Ottawa Wind Concerns is a community group member of Wind Concerns Ontario

ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com

Ontario wasting clean energy and $1B while raising electricity bills

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The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) today released an announcement on its blog stating that because Ontario has a surplus of power, it is constraining or wasting power that already comes from clean sources.

So, WHY has the government issued two contracts for MORE wind power in the Ottawa area, in Nation Township and North Stormont, where neither community supports the idea of becoming power plants? And the power is not needed anyway?

Here is the post. Readers are invited to go to the blog and post their comments. If you want to comment to the government directly, email Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy at minister.energy@ontario.ca

Ontario Wasted More Than $1 Billion Worth of Clean Energy in 2016

Following a detailed analysis of year-end data issued by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) is reporting that in 2016, the province wasted a total of 7.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean electricity – an amount equal to powering more than 760,000 homes for one year, or a value in excess of $1 billion.

“This represents a 58 per cent increase in the amount of clean electricity that Ontario wasted in 2015 – 4.8 TWh – all while the province continues to export more than 2 million homes-worth of electricity to neighbouring jurisdictions for a price less than what it cost to produce,” said Paul Acchione, P.Eng., energy expert and former President and Chair of OSPE.

OSPE shared these findings with all three major political parties, and will be at Queen’s Park this morning to speak to media regarding the importance of granting professional engineers more independence in the planning and designing of Ontario’s power system.

So why is Ontario wasting all this energy?

“Curtailment is an industry term that means the power was not needed in Ontario, and could not be exported, so it was dumped. It’s when we tell our dams to let the water spill over top, our nuclear generators to release their steam, and our wind turbines not to turn, even when it’s windy,” said Acchione.

“These numbers show that Ontario’s cleanest source of power is literally going down the drain because we’re producing too much. Speaking as an engineer, an environmentalist, and a rate payer, it’s an unnecessary waste of beautiful, clean energy, and it’s driving up the cost of electricity.”

In addition to curtailment, surplus hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear generation was exported to adjoining power grids in 2014, 2015, and 2016 at prices much lower than the total cost of production. This occurs because Ontario produces more clean electricity than it can use, so it is forced to sell off surplus energy at a discounted rate. Total exports in 2016 were 21.9 TWh compared to 22.6 TWh in 2015, and a significant portion was clean, zero-emission electricity.

“Taken together, those total exports represent nearly enough electricity to power every home in Ontario for an entire year,” said Acchione. “OSPE continues to assert that the government must restore the oversight of professional engineers in the detailed planning and design of Ontario’s power grid to prevent missteps like this from happening.”

Engineers have solutions

Because Ontario is contractually obligated to pay for most of the production costs of curtailed and exported energy, OSPE believes it would be better to find productive uses for the surplus clean electricity to displace fossil fuel consumption in other economic sectors. In the summer of 2016, OSPE submitted an advisory document to the Minister of Energy and all three major political parties detailing 21 actionable recommendations that would deliver efficiencies and savings, including reducing residential and commercial rates by approximately 25 per cent, without the creation of the subsidy and deferral account under the Ontario Fair Hydro Act.

OSPE also recommended the establishment of a voluntary interruptible retail electricity market in order to make productive use of Ontario’s excess clean electricity. This market would allow Ontario businesses and residents to access surplus clean power at the wholesale market price of less than two cents per kilowatt-hour (KWh), which could displace the use of fossil fuels by using things like dual fuel (gas and electric) water heaters, and by producing emission-free hydrogen fuel.

Ontario is currently in the process of finalizing its 2017 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP), a multi-year guiding document that will direct the province’s investments and operations related to energy. This presents a key opportunity for the government to reduce Ontarians’ hydro bills by making surplus clean electricity available to consumers.

“It is imperative that we depoliticize what should be technical judgments regarding energy mix, generation, distribution, pricing and future investments in Ontario,” said Jonathan Hack, P.Eng., President & Chair of OSPE. “We are very concerned that the government does not currently have enough engineers in Ministry staff positions to be able to properly assess the balance between environmental commitments and economic welfare when it comes to energy.

Professional Engineers must be given independence in planning and designing integrated power and energy system plans, which will in turn benefit all Ontarians.”

About the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE)

OSPE is the voice of the engineering profession in Ontario, representing more than 80,000 professional engineers and 250,000 engineering graduates, interns, and students.

OSPE’s 2012 report Wind and the Electrical Grid: Mitigating the Rise in Electricity Rates and Greenhouse Gas Emissions detailed the mounting risk of hydraulic spill, nuclear shutdowns, and periods of negative wholesale electricity prices during severe surplus base load generation.

While curtailment will decrease during the nuclear refurbishment program that began in October 2016 and the retirement of the Pickering reactors scheduled to occur from 2022 to 2024, it will rise again when the refurbished reactors return to service, unless the government takes action.

OSPE’s Energy Task Force has provided strategic engineering input to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy for more than ten years. The majority of OSPE’s recommendations have been fully or partially implemented over the past five years, saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. But more can be done if government engages Ontario’s engineers to optimize the use of the province’s clean electrical power system.

Hard questions for wind farm developer in Finch

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Community concerns about giant wind power project in quiet rural area remain unanswered

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont leader Margaret Benke, in Finch, Ontario

Last evening marked the final public engagement session in the lead-up to power developer EDP applying for Renewable Energy Approval for its 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” power project.

The local population has made it clear they are not in favour of the giant wind power project, which will cost the people $3.3 million over the 20-year contract with the IESO, and add more to everyone’s electricity bill.

For power that Ontario doesn’t need.

People attending had some questions for the developer that may have been tough to answer. Some examples:

The Draft Project Description Report, under Wind Turbines states that the hub height will be anywhere from 100 to 140m. This is significantly higher than the 100m towers at your South Branch Wind Project in Brinston, where residents have filed complaints.

How will the proposed 132m height affect the transmission of noise across our flat, relatively non-forested terrain and how will it differ when there is a hard ice/snow covering on the frozen ground and no leaves on the trees, a condition often found between late November and early April in North Stormont?

In your noise report, you use a global ground absorption factor” of 0.7.  This number is supposed to reflect the worst-case scenario, in our case when surfaces are hard/non-absorptive, like those we see repeatedly in winter, when the ground is frozen and following ice rain events (6 or more this past winter).  Why have you not included a more accurate “0” absorption factor, which is our “worst case” scenario, or something closer to it, which reflects local conditions in North Stormont?

Who are the engineers referred to in Section 3.2.6 of your “Site Considerations” Review? Will they sign, without “qualifying” their report, and assume professional responsibility for all information provided?

Given that over 3,200 noise complaints were officially documented in Ontario from 2006-2014, (just as EDP’s South Branch was brought on-line) and from your prior experience internationally, how have you addressed noise and health complaints?

Community members were particularly concerned that EDP, even though this was the last community event, still could not provide information on the exact equipment to be used, and how many turbines there would actually be in the project that could have as many as 34 50-storey structures.

For more information or to provide support and donations for possible legal action, contact the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont here.

Wind power is 70% useless in Ontario: economics report

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All that despoliation of Ontario communities, agricultural land and the natural environment for … what? Expensive power produced out of phase with demand, says Marc Brouillette

In a stunning commentary published yesterday by the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy, energy policy consultant Marc Brouilette says that Ontario’s wind power program is an expensive adventure that does not achieve any of its goals for the environment or economic prosperity, and is in fact, making things worse.

At a cost of $1.5 billion in 2015, Brouillette says, the fact that wind power generation is completely out of sync with demand in Ontario results in added costs for constrained generation form other sources. Constrained nuclear and hydro cost $300 million that year, and a further $200 million in costs was incurred due to “avoided” natural gas generation.

And, the power isn’t even getting to the people who need it. “[O]nly one-half of total provincial wind output makes it to the Central Region and the GTA where most of Ontario’s electricity demand exists,” Brouillette states.

All things considered, wind costs more than $410 per megawatt hour, which is four times the average cost of electricity in Ontario. This is being charged to Ontario’s electricity customers, at an increasing rate.

Ontario should reconsider its commitment to more wind, Brouillette concludes: “these challenges will increase if Ontario proceeds to double wind capacity to the projected ~6,500 MW.”

Reposted from Wind Concerns Ontario windconcernsontario.ca

Wind turbine noise reports not answered: Global News report

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Turbines surround a home in Huron County, Ontario. Complaints get no response. [Photo by Gary Moon]

The Global News investigative team took on the task of finding out what happens when people in rural Ontario report excessive noise and other effects from industrial-scale wind turbines in nearby wind power projects?
The answer, said Global National reporter Shirlee Engel is, “Not much.”
Here are Parts 1 and 2 of the Global News investigative report. The investigation took four months, and was based on documents and analysis provided to Global by Wind Concerns Ontario. It took two years for Wind Concerns to get the documents from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) under Freedom of Information legislation.
In over half the cases in the documents, the MOECC made no response; in others there was limited response. The Ministry relied upon wind power companies “predicted modeling” to determine whether noise exceedance was possible. When actual measurements of noise were done, they were limited to a narrow range of audible noise and did not include low frequency or tonal noise.
Minister Glen Murray told the Legislature yesterday after a barrage of questions from Opposition MPPs that the Ministry will now be including “tonal” noise in its measurement; the Minister still insists there is no problem, and told Global News that he has no complaints on his desk at present — Wind Concerns Ontario documents show almost 3,200 complaints filed between 2006 and 2014.

Wind turbines are a nightmare: Ontario family

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Global News has a report today on information related to wind turbine noise complaints.

Carla Stachura and her husband Mike thought they’d found the perfect spot to retire.

A house in rural Ontario where they run a wildlife sanctuary with lamas and a variety of birds, and planned to spend their retirement years enjoying the peace and quiet of country life.

But that dream was shattered when wind turbines began popping up near their Goderich, Ontario home. Since then, their dream has become a nightmare. The couple says they’ve been unable to sleep and exposed to prolonged periods of annoying noise. Adding to their frustration, they say the provincial government won’t lift a finger to help them, other than order more tests.

“We’ve been having issues since they turned the turbines on,” said Carla.

The couple purchased the property in 2003. They say it was paradise until the K2 Wind Farm, operated by Pattern Energy, started operations in the spring of 2015.

READ MORE: Ontario residents fight wind turbines planned near Collingwood airport 

“I immediately called K2,” Carla said.

Over the past two years, officials from the ministry have measured violations of the province’s noise limits at the couple’s home on two occasions, first in August 2015 and again in March 2017. Despite these violations, the couple says the government has done nothing other than order more tests.

Ministry of Environment does not respond to majority of wind turbine complaints

The Stachura’s complaints of government inaction are not unique. In fact, Global News has learned that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change does not respond to the majority of complaints made by residents concerned about wind turbines.

Documents released through Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act and obtained by Global News reveal officials from the Ministry of Environment chose not to investigate or deferred responding to – meaning they did not make immediate plans to investigate – roughly 68 per cent of all noise and health complaints lodged against wind turbine operators in the province between 2006 and 2014. This represents nearly 2,200 individual complaints.

The documents also show limited resources sometimes prevented the ministry from responding to complaints.

Originally obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, the documents include a list of 3,180 complaints. They also include a 458-page collection of “master incident reports,” which the ministry has verified as authentic, detailing the ministry’s response – or lack thereof – in cases where residents complained multiple times.

The documents show that in 54 per cent of all cases – more than 1,700 individual complaints – the ministry did not investigate residents’ concerns. In another 450 cases, roughly 14 per cent of total incidents, the ministry deferred responding to complaints.

In most cases, the documents do not reveal why the ministry chose not to respond. Instead, they tend to focus on whether the wind farm was compliant with ministry standards or past efforts to resolve residents’ concerns.

“The lack of response from the ministry shows just how unprepared they were for the potential effects of putting these giant machines so close to people and their communities,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.

Read more here, and watch the story today on Global News.

Two wind power projects have contracts but not Renewable Energy Approvals yet in the Ottawa area: the Nation Rise project in North Stormont (Finch, Berwick) and Eastern Fields in The Nation (St Bernardin, Casselman).

Wind Concerns Ontario is recommending that approvals not be granted for these projects, and that new tougher noise standards be developed for turbines, and enforced.

Report shows ‘flawed process’ for wind turbine noise complaints

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Turbines surround a home in Huron County, Ontario

Wind Concerns Ontario has released a report based on documents received via Freedom of Information request that shows the Ontario government’s process to deal with citizen complaints about wind farm noise is flawed.

From the news release on the website today:

[Documents] show that almost 3,200 reports of noise complaints were made in 2006-2014. In more than half, the government took no action.

“When Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, he promised the people of rural Ontario to address concerns about health and safety from the turbines,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said. “But they already had multiple complaints about wind turbine noise from 2006 onward, and they were unable and even unwilling to deal with them. This is failure of a government to protect people.

“Their goal appears to be protecting the interests of power development corporations instead.”

Ontario families called the MOECC hotline to report sleep disturbance, headaches, and dizziness from the wind turbine noise emissions. Some were desperate and reported not having slept for days, even weeks at a time.

The reports show, however, that ministry staff had no protocols or guidelines to deal with noise complaints and that high-level directives blocked staff from responding. Staff were told to rely on computer noise models provided by power developers instead of actual noise measurement.

“The noise models said that the turbine noise levels were safe, and within regulations,” Wilson explains, “but complaints continued — the Ministry did nothing. The MOECC chose power developers, their ‘clients,’ over Ontario families.”

Many reports referred to vibration or “pulsing” sensations from the huge turbines, but the MOECC restricted responses to audible noise alone.

“People just gave up and stopped calling,” Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says. “Then, in many cases, the Ministry simply closed their files. There was no help for these people from their government.”

A revised Compliance Protocol was released by the government on April 21, but contains no substantive change to the complaint process.

Wind Concerns Ontario recommends that no more approvals or Notices To Proceed be granted for wind power projects, and that the government develop and enforce new, tougher noise standards.

The full report is available at www.windconcernsontario.ca

Excerpts from the documents:

“ … noise emissions are causing an adverse effect..” Note by MOECC field officer, March, 2010

“…no resources for after-hours monitoring…” Note by MOECC staff November, 2015

[Wind turbine noise] “Sounds like a jet engine roaring” Citizen report, March, 2013

“House [is] vibrating…” Citizen report, February, 2011

“Staff have no options to address complaint” MOECC staff, November 2015

Wind Concerns Ontario can be reach via contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind turbines not clean, not green

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“The phrase ‘clean energy’ is a sick joke,” says Matt Ridley of the U.K. Here’s why.

The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.

You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.

Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.

Such numbers are not hard to find, but they don’t figure prominently in reports on energy derived from the unreliables lobby (solar and wind). Their trick is to hide behind the statement that close to 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable, with the implication that this is wind and solar. In fact the vast majority — three quarters — is biomass (mainly wood), and a very large part of that is ‘traditional biomass’; sticks and logs and dung burned by the poor in their homes to cook with. Those people need that energy, but they pay a big price in health problems caused by smoke inhalation.

Even in rich countries playing with subsidised wind and solar, a huge slug of their renewable energy comes from wood and hydro, the reliable renewables. Meanwhile, world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2013 and 2014, again using International Energy Agency data, it grew by just under 2,000 terawatt-hours.

If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s.

At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area greater than the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs.

Do not take refuge in the idea that wind turbines could become more efficient. There is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a moving fluid, the Betz limit, and wind turbines are already close to it. Their effectiveness (the load factor, to use the engineering term) is determined by the wind that is available, and that varies at its own sweet will from second to second, day to day, year to year.

As machines, wind turbines are pretty good already; the problem is the wind resource itself, and we cannot change that. It’s a fluctuating stream of low–density energy. Mankind stopped using it for mission-critical transport and mechanical power long ago, for sound reasons. It’s just not very good.

As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.

It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.

A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. Now if we are to build 350,000 wind turbines a year (or a smaller number of bigger ones), just to keep up with increasing energy demand, that will require 50 million tonnes of coal a year. That’s about half the EU’s hard coal–mining output.

Forgive me if you have heard this before, but I have a commercial interest in coal. Now it appears that the black stuff also gives me a commercial interest in ‘clean’, green wind power.

The point of running through these numbers is to demonstrate that it is utterly futile, on a priori grounds, even to think that wind power can make any significant contribution to world energy supply, let alone to emissions reductions, without ruining the planet. As the late David MacKay pointed out years back, the arithmetic is against such unreliable renewables.

The truth is, if you want to power civilisation with fewer greenhouse gas emissions, then you should focus on shifting power generation, heat and transport to natural gas, the economically recoverable reserves of which — thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — are much more abundant than we dreamed they ever could be. It is also the lowest-emitting of the fossil fuels, so the emissions intensity of our wealth creation can actually fall while our wealth continues to increase. Good.

And let’s put some of that burgeoning wealth in nuclear, fission and fusion, so that it can take over from gas in the second half of this century. That is an engineerable, clean future. Everything else is a political displacement activity, one that is actually counterproductive as a climate policy and, worst of all, shamefully robs the poor to make the rich even richer.

Spectator.co.uk/podcast
Matt Ridley discusses wind power

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Ontario government not measuring wind turbine noise effectively, engineer tells international conference

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Noise measurement protocol needlessly complex, failing to identify critical issues with wind turbine noise, Ontario engineer says.

He used MOECC data to confirm “tonal” quality to wind turbine noise emissions. One project has been operating for eight years — residents continue to complain, no action by Ontario government

Conference venue in Rotterdam: Wind Turbine Noise 2017

Ontario engineer William Palmer has proposed a rigorous, but simple and transparent technique to assess wind turbine noise, that could replace the problematic complex computer models and “black box” algorithms currently used in the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change newest protocol to assess wind turbine noise compliance.

Speaking at the International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise that took place in Rotterdam beginning May 2, Palmer said of his proposed method,

The method had to consider that an effective monitoring system must take into account more than just averaging sound power levels over a long term. The method recognizes that humans are bothered by the changes and annoying characteristics that occur, as well as long term averages. Others describe this as the need to determine how the special characteristics of sound quality may impact quality of life.

To verify this approach, assessments were conducted using the method at two wind power developments in Ontario. In the K2 Wind project, he used MOECC data from testing in early March 2017 at a home within the K2 project. He was able to demonstrate that the MOECC data confirmed that the noise from the turbines surrounding the home had a tonal quality; that means it should require a 5 dB(A) penalty be applied to the other test results.

He reported:

Although the Ministry did not provide calibration files for their sound recordings they did provide in their report their assessment of the sound pressure level for each sample. Using the Electroacoustics Toolbox, and working backwards to set the given sound pressure level for a number of the recordings provided as the calibration level, permitted a “Quasi Calibration” of the Ministry data, and from that a calibrated FFT analysis was made. … Again, it was seen that when the residents described adverse effects in their comments filed with their initiation of recordings, FFT analysis of the sound recordings taken at those times clearly show a tonal condition occurring at about 450 Hz.

In the Enbridge project, where Mr. Palmer also conducted testing, he found similar tonal quality to the noise emissions in that project, and confirmed that the noise coming from the turbines is above the approved levels at several locations.

For this facility as an example, where the turbines first went into operation in November 2008, and citizen complaints occurred soon after, it has not yet been possible to complete a report to demonstrate compliance. The monitoring is still in progress, over 8 years later, with the turbines continuing in operation, and residents continuing to complain. The hypothesis is that individual samples are not representative due to variation.

Process is complex

He offered comment on the current protocol being used to assess compliance by the MOECC:

A premise of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change wind turbine monitoring protocol is that monitoring to show compliance must be conducted over a long period. The protocol requires the initial acoustic monitoring by residents to produce at least a 10-minute sample for each complaint period, and the final compliance protocol requires a minimum of 120 one-minute measurement intervals for each integer of wind speed. During each of those one-minute intervals there must be no changes in wind speed or direction. A further 60 samples are required for each integer wind speed with the turbines not operational. So far data collection has taken years to obtain a sufficient number of samples, and in at least one array, initial reports showed that over 90% of samples taken were discarded as non-compliant. All samples are logarithmically combined to determine the Leq produced by the facility, which eliminates any short-term change effects. This appears to be precisely the sort of monitoring that was cautioned against by Genuit and Fiebig described in Section 1 when they noted, “By relying on sound pressure levels averaged over long time periods and suppressing all aspects of quality, the specific properties of environmental noise situations cannot be identified, because annoyance caused by environmental noise has a broader linkage with various acoustical properties such as frequency spectrum, duration, impulsive, tonal and low-frequency components, etc. than only with SPL [Sound Pressure Level]. In many cases these acoustical properties affect the quality of life.”

The annoyance aspects that impact the quality of life of impacted residents are not being assessed.

People walking away from loved homes

The current protocol cannot possibly identify critical issues in wind turbine noise emissions, Palmer asserts. In conclusion, he said:

This paper has demonstrated a method for rigorous monitoring of wind turbine sound. The goal of the method was to establish evidence for the condition noted by Karl D. Kryter: “The most direct, and perhaps most valid, insight into the possible presence and magnitude of stress reactions in general living environments is probably that which has been obtained from attitude surveys and real-life behaviour of people.” Behaviours such as walking away from an unsold loved home to live at the home of a family member, or when normal people become activists in trying to communicate their concerns provide such valid insights. The rigorous method had to consider the present acceptance criterion for wind turbines, in light of the insight given by those who study the quality of noise and its relation to annoyance. Those who study the subject identify that, “Current acceptance criterion relying on sound pressure levels averaged over long time periods and suppressing all aspects of quality cannot identify the specific properties of environmental noise situations.”

The results reported by Bill Palmer are typical of the community testing being undertaken in many communities near wind turbine projects across Ontario.

These findings indicate that the complex processes used by the MOECC and required of wind companies for compliance testing fail to identify key issues that can be quickly identified using much simpler techniques.

Meanwhile, the turbines, shown by other methods to be out of compliance, continue to operate.

[Re-posted from Wind Concerns Ontario]