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The usual issues have been raised in my diary about wind power yesterday:

  • it kills birds
  • it is unreliable
  • it is ugly

Let me respond to these once again in a comprehensive way (this diary about the birds only). But before that, let me explain exactly what I do, so that you understand that I am not really partisan here.

I finance wind farms on a non-recourse basis, which means that we only get repaid from the money generated by the project, and we cannot go to the owner and say "pay us back" if the project does not perform as expected (obviously except if we can prove that the owner messed up its job really badly, but that's pretty hard). Which means that we need to make sure that the project will work well enough and long enough for us to be repaid, and that it will not be subject to any kind of regulatory or legal obstacles. Which in turn, requires a number of things:

  • we need to make sure that the project is technically sound and will be operated by qualified people, at a cost that remains within expectations;
  • we need to be sure that there will be enough wind each year to repay our debt;
  • we want the project to have all permits, licenses, authorisations, as well as the goodwill of the local people becasue we do not want anything or anybody to try to prevent it from operating.

And please note - we are bankers: in the best case, we get paid our interest, but in the worst case, we lose our investment. If there is not enough wind to pay the debt, we lose money; if there is more wind than expected, we do NOT earn a cent more. So we really want to be sure that nothing will go wrong beyond a conservative range of variations that we can live with. And we lend money over 15 years, so all these things must be true throughout.

My job is to find out everything that can go wrong with a wind farm and make sure that it is very unlikely to happen to our projects. So I ca ncertainly speak about the issues above because I have raised them before as a part of my job on each project.

Birds

I have yet to see a project where birds were a major issue. It is addressed in each project but is usually a very minor topic.

The only reason this topic is even raised, I think, is because of the Altamont Pass wind farm, which was built (in the early 80s) on a migration path and which used technology which was lethal to birds. As far as I know, it is really an exceptional case.

Here are links to a number of studies that show that it is really a minor issue:

From the AWEA (pdf) (American Wind Energy Association, admittedly not the most impartial entity, but it's where I found the cleanest version of that graph, which comes from a serious scientific study: Erickson, W.P., G.D. Johnson, and D.P. Young. 2004. Summary of anthropogenic causes of bird mortality. Proceedings of the 2002 International Partner's in Flight Conference, Monterrey, California.)

Here's a recent Dutch study:


Wind turbines not so deadly for birds -Dutch study (Yahoo, 5 July 2005 - here's the link in Dutch from the Dutch Bird protection society)

Wind turbines producing "green" energy kill many fewer birds than previously thought and pose less of a threat to avian life than cars, a study by the Dutch Bird Protection charity and power utility Nuon showed.

The study, published on Wednesday, was based on results from three wind farms. It showed each turbine killed an average 28 birds per year, a third of what had been assumed on the basis of research conducted in the 1980s.

"The mathematical model which was used up until now seems to predict too many collision victims for modern wind turbines in the Netherlands," Bird Protection and Nuon said in a statement.

The new study suggests the Netherlands' 1,700 wind turbines kill about 50,000 birds a year. About 2 million birds perish each year on Dutch roads, it said.

The study showed that large wind turbines producing more than 1.5 megawatts of power killed slightly more birds than smaller, older windmills, but Bird Protection noted that the bigger windmills produce five to 10 times more electricity.

And another Danish one, about offshore wind farms:


Wind turbines a breeze for migrating birds (New Scientist, June 2005)

MIGRATING birds seldom dice with death among the spinning blades of wind turbines. Instead, they give them a wide berth, according to a study of a Danish offshore wind farm.

To see whether the 13,000 offshore turbines planned for European waters would be a hazard to migrating birds, Mark Desholm and Johnny Kahlert of the National Environmental Research Institute in Rønde, Denmark, used radar to track flocks of geese and eider ducks around the Nysted wind farm in the Baltic Sea. The farm's 72 turbines are laid out in rows with their blades 480 metres apart.

Desholm and Kahlert found that the birds flew almost exclusively down the corridors between the turbines, with less than 1 per cent getting close enough to risk collision. The birds gave the turbines an even wider berth at night, sticking more closely to the middle of the corridors.

Many also avoided the wind farm altogether. The researchers found that while 40 per cent of flocks in the survey area crossed the wind farm site before construction started, only 9 per cent ventured among the turbines once they were operating (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0336).

And here is what the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has to say:


RSPB on Wind farms

The RSPB views climate change as the most serious long-term threat to wildlife in the UK and globally and, therefore, we support the Government's target to source 15% of electricity from renewables by 2015.

To meet this target, the RSPB favours a broad mix of renewables, especially those, like solar energy, with large long- term potential and minimal environmental impacts. However, wind power has the greatest potential to make a significant difference in the UK in the coming decade. It is the most advanced and widely available of the new renewable technologies.

Wind Farms and Birds
The available evidence suggests that appropriately positioned wind farms do not pose a significant hazard for birds. However, evidence from the US and Spain confirms that poorly sited wind farms can cause severe problems for birds, through disturbance, habitat loss/damage or collision with turbines.

Because of this, the RSPB has objected to 27 wind farm proposals (on and offshore) between 1998-2003 and has raised concerns about a further 29. Currently we are objecting to a proposed wind farm at Shell Flat off the Lancashire coast as it is home to one of the UK's most important flocks of wintering common scoters.

Environmental assessment
The RSPB insists that wind farm proposals that may affect sensitive bird populations or their habitats are subject to rigorous environmental assessment before development is permitted and that the effects of any approved developments are monitored before and after construction.

We will, and do, object to specific wind farm proposals where there is an inadequate environmental assessment, where the assessment reveals potential environmental problems that cannot be mitigated, or where there is insufficient knowledge about the threat to sensitive bird populations or their habitats to conclude that there will not be a problem.

Note - as bankers, we require exactly the same thing, and we do not lend any money without such assessments (always conducted by independent third parties) done and showing favorable results.

So can we please lay this "it kills birds" story to rest? Thanks!
The other topics in another diary.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 09:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (4.00)

    European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
    in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

    by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 09:27:35 AM PDT

    •  Thank you Jérôme (4.00)
      I have been wondering about the bird issue for a while;  thanks for addressing the issue in such a thorough way.

      As for "ugly", the wind farm in NM is beautiful in a very eerie way.

      In the Netherlands, when we take the train from Centraal Station to Wormerveer, we see a wind farm... at least I think that's what it is.

      Do you know?

    •  Isn't the issue... (none)
      with Altamont that it is particuarly deadly to raptors due to poor planning (e.g., towers in updraft areas, blades located at the height at which the birds instinctively fly when hunting?).. and not migrating birds?

      "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants" Justice Louis Brandeis

      by mlangner on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 01:09:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. For the most part true. (none)
        Regional papers had a big review of the policy and planning recently.

        In a nutshell.

        It was an early venture and "we" have learned a lot. Also, an interesting point I had not thought of was brought to my attention, the original Altamont farms stopped running cattle and the brush came back creating food for the raptors--attracting more raptors leading to more bird deaths.

        There have been many new innovations in the technology and the price point is comming when many of the old windmills can be replaced. Also the newer designs are more friendly (less dangerous) to birds.  I think the trend that the graph Jerome showed would apply to Altamont if new structures and modern policies were implemented.

  •  Now if CATS could generate energy we'd have an (none)
    argument!

    Reigning Welterweight Female Piefighter since 1998

    by ablington on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 09:30:15 AM PDT

  •  Wind power not ugly (4.00)
    Especially compared to the toxic yellow haze that blankets all of southern California from June through November.

    I'm all for wind power.  

  •  You should put up a wind farm... (4.00)
    in Washington. There's got to be enough hot air blowing out of the White House and Congress these days to power the whole eastern seaboard.

    </snark>

  •  "Ugly" can stop a project (none)
    Being a former Cape Codder, I was familiar with the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound, which was heavily opposed by the well-to-do coastal residents because of NIMBY concerns about their views of the ocean.

    I left a couple of years ago, and don't know the current status of the project.  Considering the objections in an area with no viable evacuation strategy in case of an accident at the nuclear power plant just off the Cape, the objections to wind power seemed particularly short-sighted and stupid.

    Lies are the new truth.

    by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 09:57:25 AM PDT

    •  Remember our recent Supreme Court decision? (none)
      Eminent domain, baby.

      How could this not apply? It's for national security.

      •  It's in the sea (none)
        Nobody owns it.  The coastal dwellers are just afraid it will affect their property values, so they're trying to obstruct.

        Lies are the new truth.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:12:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so fast, (none)
          Romney has been getting cocky as of recent. This article explains that he wants to be able to zone state waters as they do with private land, as to frustrate efforts to place the wind farm in Nantucket Sound. The initiative was revealed at Craigville Beach, to the usual circus that consisted of representatives and local activists.

          I wish I knew/cared less about these things.. then of course, I wish I didn't live so close to whiny BushvotesTM who can't learn to pilot their sailboat drunk around 140+ ft. wind turbines.

    •  I'm from Osterville, (4.00)
      and Walter Cronkite has been yapping about the desecration of the view available from our beaches of Nantucket Sound. This is a disagreeable argument for why we shouldn't have the turbines out there, because I actually think it would be a unique sight for the tourists that pack in over the summer. If they don't like it, they can free up a parking spot at my beach so that I might be able to go there every so often.

      My only hesitance regarding allowing the turbines to be installed is that both sides of the argument have their numbers on how the installation will affect local electricity capacity. From Save Our Sound:

      An average of 170 MW, which supplies 1% of New England's electricity. Wind is variable and thus no electricity can be produced when the wind's not blowing.

      And according to Cape Wind Associates,

      The La Capra model uses projections of future demand, fuel prices, existing unit retirements, new unit additions and power plant-specific information to generate hourly estimated clearing prices. Depending o­n the resources available each hour, the PROSYM dispatch algorithm selects the lowest cost combination of bids from generating sources and available imports to meet the electricity demand in the region modeled. In essence, it simulates how the electricity spot market in the Northeast works. To ensure greater accuracy of the results, La Capra compares its forecast to historical trends and includes methodologies that capture "price spikes" and the impact weather has on load.

      Furthermore...

      Based o­n a comparison of the two simulations, along with judgement regarding the range of other potential outcomes, La Capra found that the addition of Cape Wind electricity would exert a downward pressure o­n wholesale electricity market prices, leading to a savings of approximately $25 million per year for the New England electricity market.

      This is what bothers me, that both sides are picking and choosing the facts that cater to their own causes. The local Army Corps didn't make it any easier on us by only allowing 60 days for public comment, which led to heated debate from our trusty hard-left representatives.

      What we need before we start stamping all of these wind projects is an independent verdict on whether or not the cost outweighs the benefit. It happens in business more often than not, so why not now?

    •  Vineyarder here (4.00)
      Being on Martha's Vineyard, I'm pretty used to the anti-Cape Wind arguments.  Several of the ones I hear the least seem to me to have pretty crucial merit.  And you might be able to set me straight on them, since they don't enter into the "how can you disturb the pristine beauty of Nantucket Sound" typical anti-wind argument.

      One is--who the heck are Cape Wind?  It seems to me like this is a pretty vigorous little energy enterpreneuship--nothing wrong with that on the face of it--but I've not seen anything really detailing what the long-term top-line profits they're intending to make off of Nantucket sound are.  My horse sense is that they wouldn't be in this if they didn't intend to make a killing for their VC's.  Again, nothing wrong with that in any given business, but their proposal for exclusive, unimpeded, and unregulated access to the Sound is based on...what?  That they were the first group to lay claim to it?  This whole aspect of the agreement seems like it was crafted by the Dick Cheney or something.

      I've not seen an oversight body that can deal with this in a licensing mode and can hold them accountable yet (mind you, I know there have been a few turns of this in the last month or so that I haven't kept up with).  There are precedents to look at in monitoring the region's interest here--think about community Cable TV licensing--but I've just not heard that business model.  Mind you, I'm not looking to regulate the top end possibilities for this right out of it for them, I just want something to keep regional control over the regional waterway asset, recognizing that the wind turbine project is an excellent application for it.

      Second point is just a fact, and an extrapolation from it.  Pro-Cape Wind people think they'll be powering their hot tubs in Chilmark based on the Nantucket Sound wind turbines, as in there's a direct return to the cape/island power systems directly.  That simply isn't true--whatever energy is generated has to be dumped back into the New England energy grid--that's a requirement of being a user of the grid (and this I have from extremely knowledgable sources on that aspect of the topic).    Nothing wrong there--you come to the meal every night, you contribute the vegetables when they grow for you.  That's the spirit of regional power.

      With that in mind, let's get back to that top-line profit for Cape Wind...who amortizes their rather hefty construction and operation costs?  It's never been clear to me in their muttering about "leveraging nominal and normative regional contributive costs" that it won't be people on the Cape and Islands forking over higher electric bills to basically line the pockets of Cape Wind Series "A" bond holders with no appreciable benefits to us.

      Third is a significant liability issue, I'd think, and a wonder as to who is going to pick it up if it comes to fruition.  These turbines seem pretty vulnerable in a vicious Nor'easter.  What happens if they all topple and get whacked?  I have a definite vision of 100 broken turbines in ten years, sitting in the water like dead birds or broken umbrellas, blocking shipping and abandoned with Cape Wind gone on to find someplace with more predictable weather patterns to set up their next shop.  There is no escrow or liability agreement for removing or fixing broken turbines if in Cape Wind's estimation they become transiently unprofitable.

      I'm concentrating on the negatives--I completely understand the real and potential benefits here, and even as a guy who boats and fishes the sound occasionally, the NIMBY aspects of this seem very easy to accept to me.  Most of my concerns revolve around not being in a position to get exploited by the Cape Wind people in a well-meaning effort to make a very meaningful contribution and setting an example in putting green energy in the mainstream in the US.  

      For those of us who are on the edge of being priced out of our homes and communities right now based on already astronomically rising energy costs (anybody want to venture the cost last winter of a tank of propane out here?), I'm just trying to watch out for my legitimate interests and not go bankrupt funding Cape Wind.

      •  Thanks for the in depth local view (none)
        to both of you.  It's good to get a close-up picture of the complications of installing wind turbine farms.  When I lived there (Truro, myself) the arguments against Cape Wind all sounded like typical trumped-up NIMBY bullshit.  The questions about business liability, socializing costs, etc. are very pertinent ones.  In the current Republican-dominated regime we can't assume that state government will do the right thing.

        Romney--who the f**k knows?  Sounds like he's just pandering to a group of elderly well-off retirees who are reliable Republican voters to me, but probably there's more to it than that.

        This is a fascinating discussion of the dirty little details that accompany wind energy in the real world.  Wind farms on the eastern seaboard are new, and I'm sure there will be lots to work out: competing uses, liability, preventing businesses from raping customers through the usual government graft, and many others.  Thanks for your wonderful contributions.

        Lies are the new truth.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:42:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some replies (none)
        • I don't know how it is in that case, but most of the wind farms I have seen go through a heavy permitting process - pretty much every conceivable agency has its say, so be sure that you can't just buy your way into a location.

        • Profitability. Depending on the wind regime and the complexity of the site, projects are going to be more or less profitable. You can be sure that we finance only economically viable projects, and as debt can make up to 80% of the total investment, this is heavily scrutinised. Some projects do make a great return for the investors, if they found a good site and did not take too much time developing it.

        • Turbine models are meant to survive extreme gusts of wind. In fact, they stop if wind goes above a certain speed limit. In the big tempest in the winter of 1999/2000, 40% of the trees in Denmark went down, and only 6 turbines out of several thousand, so it should be okay.

        European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:47:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bless you again Jerome (4.00)
    Thanks you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

    As a bird lover, and the son of a bird FANATIC, I'm ALL for wind power.  You fail to include in your graph bird population destruction from OTHER power sources.  Coal is notorious for driving birds away.  Smog also pushes many kinds of songbirds from the areas surrounding cities.

    If you ever want to know why many people scream out "dumb liberals," the objections to wind power certainly give credence to the idea.

    •  A very good point... (4.00)
      We need power. The real question is how to get it while causing the least ecological damage.

      Hydropower is clean, but dams kill fish and flood towns, fields, canyons, etc.

      Coal = lots of BTU's, but ugly plants, acid rain, greenhouse gases, miners' deaths, etc.

      Nuclear = lots of BTU's, effecient and "clean," but ugly plants, creates toxic waste that will outlive all of us, statistically small but emotionally compelling risk of meltdowns, etc.

      Geothermal = wonderful, but geographically limited.

      You get the idea. There are tradeoffs in every decision. In some places, bird deaths and views might win out to defeat wind farms over other means of power generation; in some places not.

      And also, are we overvaluing the immediacy of some dead birds and loss of views now over the future possibility of many more dead birds, fish, and other species from global warming?

      •  Indeed (none)
        There are advances going on now (and have been for YEARS) for "cleaner" nuclear ('scuse me, nukular) power.  However, there have been no significant tests, and no experimental reactors have been built yet.

        I really do think we can't really judge the ecological damage, and overvalue immediate damage (a few dead birds here) over the less immediate (forest destruction from acid rain, we lost a massive forest in the NC mountains that way, it's all blasted and dead).

        Maybe we need to come up with a way to calculate a measure for ecological impact, with several dimensions.  That seems like a start to me.

      •  Issues (none)
        Coal: Pollution, global warming.  Ample resources.  
        Oil and gas: Global warming, less pollution, limited resources.  

        Wind: Kills birds, looks ugly.  Intermittent power.  
        Dams: Limited locales, kills fish, alters ecosystems.  
        Wave generators/current mills: Offshore and shoreline only, weather issues.  Affects wildlife?  

        Nuclear: Radioactive waste, weaponization.  Limited resources.  
        Fusion: Solutions not available.  

        Hydrogen: Not an energy SOURCE.  

        Microhydro: Limited applicability.  
        Solar: Daytime only.  Currently costly to produce cells, which are not very efficient and only pay for the energy used to produce them over years.  

        Geothermal: Natural sources are earthquake and volcanic activity prone.  Engineered solutions apparently CAUSE earthquakes!  

        Biomass

        My solutions:
        #1: Economical solar cells and wide-scale deployment in mixed use (AKA roofing) augmenting conventional power generation from mixed sources dominated by carbon-neutral biomass, biofuel, solar generated synthetic fuel, coal generation with gas sequestration, energy storage systems, and existing hydro.  Also, improved efficiency and sustainability in all aspects.  

        #2: Solar satellites.  No seasons, day-night cycles, weather, or shortage of sunlight in space.  

        •  Solar Satellites? (none)
          Isn't fusion likely to be available before we are able to deliver energy safely from a solar satellite?

          Democrats: Giving you a government that works.

          by freelunch on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:34:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (none)
            In fact, there's at least one paper out there that makes sound scientific points that indicate that no human-scale efforts at pure fusion are likely to succeed, at least not for any scheme yet devised.  In a word, bremsstrahlung.  Fission-fusion hybrids may yield fruit though.  

            Nobody's ever tried to deliver energy from a solar sat AFAIK.  But the energy and our ability to harvest it is definitely there.  

        •  Except... (none)
          that the supposed negatives for winds are not true... (I'll write about intermittent power next)

          European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
          in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

          by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:52:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And I'll add (none)
            I think they look sexy.

            Loney towers of bleach white, jutting like some old bones of some forgotten behemoth, churning slowly with ageless determination.  I think they spice up many offshore locations and farmland.  It's not like central Kansas is THAT interesting on it's own... (not that Kansas is ugly, it's just... so damn flat and featureless).

    •  Excuse me (none)
      but I don't consider myself a "dumb liberal" because I am concerned about technology (any technology) outpacing common sense and threatening humans, animals and/or the environment.  Because, as we all know, that has never happened before.

      I am all for wind power if and when consideration is made for placement, construction and design that allows the least possible killing of birds and bats.

      The argument that cats or cars or high-rise buildings wipe out more birds is informative, but is disingenious.  Just because those three things kill more birds, doesn't mean that wind turbines are safe - turbines just kill less.

      Who is going to decide the placement of these turbines?  Is our future need for power going to outrank bird/bat lives/deaths?  Is it going to be a pork project for states to ram through not caring where the turbines go as long as they get theirs?  Which companies are going to provide the turbines - the ones who care about the least amount of killing or the ones who bought their congresscritter?  Are there going to be regulations regarding a certain amount of bird/bat deaths allowed per turbine?  Who decides that?  The turbine company? Congress? The White House?

      So my question to anyone who says that I am a "dumb liberal" because I have concerns or that I should just stop bringing up bird/bat deaths because this diary has put the matter to rest - why can't we have a discussion about ways to make wind power safer or talk about companies that have taken bird and bat safety into their design consideration instead of downgrading those who question and don't jump automatically on board?  Instead, why don't you try to convince this environmental, bird-loving, knee-jerk dumb liberal instead of calling me names and telling me the issue is decided?

      "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful & murder respectable, & to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." ~ George Orwell

      by Pandora on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:09:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Questions (none)
        The first question is which power generation technology kills the fewest birds. You cannot argue against wind energy until you know what happens to other technologies (the only power generation technology that may actually benefit some birds is hydro, but it displaces habitat for others, so I doubt that it does anything but hurt, either). So, how many birds are killed per GwH by wind, coal, gas, oil, hydro, and nuclear generation?

        Placement is determined by prevailing wind patterns. Some places will never have wind turbines, they won't be cost effective. Some may not have wind turbines because they are right on a flyway, even if it is otherwise cost effective. The easiest, from the point of view of the generation folks are places that have relatively few birds and good winds.

        Yes, it makes sense to follow up and set standards, but the standards have to be in context, not in some pseudo-ideal view of the world.

        What bothers me is that you appear not to have read what Jerome wrote. He answered most of your questions and explained the process. Your response appears to be a perfect parody of the 'dumb liberal'.

        Democrats: Giving you a government that works.

        by freelunch on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:44:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fold-Down Turbines? (none)
          What about the possibility of wind turbines designed so that they can be folded down temporarily as needed so as to avoid doing any damage to protected species of migratory birds. I believe I may have seen some cable TV coverage of such a design in place somewhere in Europe.
        •  I'm so sorry but I can't (none)
          see some of the answers to my questions in Jerome's diary.

          First - it would seem that solar power would be the least "bird/bat killing" type of power generator - why isn't that included in your list?  Is it not as efficient as the others - asking because I don't know and I'm curious.

          Second, are there companies that are creating turbines that are less deadly - is there a way to support them as opposed to the others?  

          Third, who decides where the turbines are placed?  Is it decided on a national level, a local level, the company?  I apologize for not finding the answer to that in his diary.

          You go on to state: "Some may not have wind turbines because they are right on a flyway, even if it is otherwise cost effective."  Again, who is making the decision here?  While that would be great, my concern over our eventual need for massive power generation makes me concerned about some shifting of priorities.

          Look, I don't have the history of protesting these things. All I know is what little I've read. I apologize for being so "dumb" on this subject but since it seems to be the way we are going - I'd like to know some more about it.

          "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful & murder respectable, & to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." ~ George Orwell

          by Pandora on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 01:24:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's see (none)
            I suppose solar would be more friendly, but it is currently much more expensive than other options. You're free to include it in the mix for consideration, but most solar installations have been experimental or heavily subsidized. They are not currently economically viable.

            We learned a lot at Altamount Pass. All turbines being built today are far less deadly than the design that went in there.

            Generally, companies decide on the location and get approval from the state utility regulators. Some states may allow small installations done by private property owners to go anywhere under mandatory buyback regulations. An EIS is required for these installations as with most other major constructions. The results of the EIS will strongly influence the decision of the PUC.

            There are two ways to approach a problem that you don't understand. One is to ask questions and then listen to the answers, following up with more informed questions. The other is to insist that it must be bad because you don't know about it or understand it. There's nothing wrong with being uninformed initially, but then it's everyone's duty to learn about it, rather than use their ignorance as an excuse to oppose or support it. Americans, far too often, are willing to remain ignorant.

            Democrats: Giving you a government that works.

            by freelunch on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 02:03:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Solar (none)
            is still an order of magnitude (i.e. 5 to 10 times) more expensive than other forms of power generation, so it makes little sense to include it in the mix for the time being.

            It CAN make economic sense for small scale use (on individual houses or for isolated communities that would otherwise need a long - and expensive - connection to the grid).

            Prices will come down it the industry is supported, but it is not yet useful as an industrial scale power source.

            European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
            in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

            by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 03:04:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I didn't realize (none)
              that it was that much more expensive, thank you for letting me know.

              Up until recently I lived in California and if a homeowner installed a solar system for their home - they got up to a combined 75% back in rebates from the state and the Feds.  Due to the rolling blackouts, I knew a number of clients and businesses that had the solar panels installed and were able to get off the grid.  It also seemed like smaller and smaller cells were needed to get the same amount of power generation along with less and less sunlight.

              Up here in Oregon I plan on going solar also, but haven't had a chance to see about rebates or whether it will be cost-efficient with the amount of cloudy days we have.

              "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful & murder respectable, & to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." ~ George Orwell

              by Pandora on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 05:15:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Don't troll (none)
        I am all for wind power if and when consideration is made for placement, construction and design that allows the least possible killing of birds and bats.

        Then we are on the same page, and I wasn't talking about you.  Yes, you CAN put them in assinine places, like migratory paths.  Would we in the US?  Well, we don't have a good track record with common goods (air, water, wildlife populations).  The goal is to fight FOR intelligent & well-managed energy solutions, not fight AGAINST them.  It seems like PLENTY of environmental groups are.

        But every time I hear wind power mentioned on the evening news (like last week), there is the obligatory "Environmental groups oppose wind power because it kills birds."  Maybe those "environmental groups" think how you do, and would like to see it done intelligently.  And despite crappy reporting, it still is their responsibility to get their message out intact.

        I do know that NBC's report last week, which said the key phrase "environmental groups" doesn't include Greenpeace, WWF, Forest & Bird, and Audobon.  They are behind New Zealands BIG drive toward wind power.  I don't know the opinion of Sierra Club.

        So calm down, I'm not calling you names.  The "dumb liberal" line I was just making an observation (to use your thinking, I'm a dumb liberal too).  My comment was meant to be equal parts about:

        1. the media at the wheel, asleep, drunk, and getting an access hummer from their sweet, sweet, interest whores,
        2. ineffective communication from environmental groups floating aimlessly like a balloon release, and
        3. your average dumb** sitting in his living room believing everything Bryan Williams says.
        •  I wasn't trolling (none)
          I was just pissed and it was my first snarky post ever so I'm not very good at them.

          I was more annoyed with Jerome's final diary comment about the bird issue being resolved and was going to ignore it, but then read your comment and ended up responding instead of going outside and weeding the garden.

          So from this liberal to another, I apologize.

          "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful & murder respectable, & to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." ~ George Orwell

          by Pandora on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 01:30:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The fact is (none)
        we are discussing wind as if it had no benefits of its own and was not a substitute to highly flawed other technologies. We are using much higher standards for wind than for the rest, which is as it should be, but it would be nice to apply the same standards to the rest of our power production capacity and out other nature-damaging activities, including the car economy and the rest.

        European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 01:11:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you Jerome (none)
          I didn't catch that - obviously!

          I reacted off your statement that the bird issue has been resolved and as I said in a comment above, I should have gotten away from the computer before responding.

          I have been reassured by several comments here, including some of yours, that care is being taken with wind farm installation.  I haven't been following wind technology because I'm more a solar power kind of gal but thank you for your time and this information.

          "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful & murder respectable, & to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." ~ George Orwell

          by Pandora on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 01:37:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Bats on East US Mountaintops (none)
    Is a problem however, but all that means is that until the design problems which cause the bat mortality on mountaintops, turbines should not be built there.  There are plenty of areas off the shore on the east coast and inland that are suitable.
  •  buildings (none)
    Are huge bird killers - we should be working on reducing bird mortality from windows.
  •  Thanks Jerome (none)
    There are various proposals for wind farms here in New York. I've been reading a little about them but have more to learn. I'll go and read your original diary on the subject now. I look forward to the next in the series.

    A year or so ago a team from Williams College in Massachusetts proposed 8 turbines on the Taconic Ridge just up the road from me in Berlin, NY. The proposal met a great deal of resistance and they decided not to pursue it.

    I am of mixed mind on this. I am strongly in favor of renewable energies. Their very modest proposal would have supplied all the electrical requirements for my town and the neighboring one (one possible mistake on their part was to have the towers on the New York side and the power benefits run down the Massachusetts side of the ridge) (oops). On the other hand the ridge is unblemished at this point, has a hiking trail running along it, and is mostly nature preserve at this point. I'm not sure I want the beautiful view from my front porch blemished by wind turbines.

    But I want clean energy.

    "We have the power. Sorry if you don't like the fact that we've decided to use it." Posted by Jeremey*in*MS at February 3, 2005 01:59 PM

    by Andrew C White on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:03:58 AM PDT

    •  NIMBY (none)
      Power has to be supplied somehow. I suppose you would rather have a nuke or coal plant down the road?

      Modern windmills have a very small footprint. And they are extremely tall. You'd still be able to go hiking and I highly doubt 15 windmills on a hill top would be that ugly.

      No one seems to complain too much about all the microwave towers or the high tension high power lines that carve huge swaths through our forests.

      Come to think of it, this is kind of stupid. Compared to nuke and coal plants, high tension lines, microwave towers, wind mills truly are a god send.

      •  I agree (none)
        I hate seeing power lines marring a beautiful landscape. But windmills can be comparatively attractive.
      •  I agree (none)
        I am in favor of the project (or a similar one) despite my love of my unblemished mountaintop. What I am hoping to learn from Jerome's posting are the arguments needed to overcome the objections that are stopping this from happening. As a local homeowner I am also looking at it from my own, and hopefully, my neighbors points of view.

        Benefit vs. Cost.

        We are blessed with living in a particularly beautiful peace (misspelling completely intentional) of the world. My knowledge of the states geographic features also makes me wonder if this is the best site for the project (migration being one very real concern here)(more wind available elsewhere another). On the other hand the idea of an energy independent town intrigues me no end and if we could design a project that would relace not just our electrical but our (ever rising and bank account busting) heating oil needs I think it could be sold to Republicans and Democrats alike.

        "We have the power. Sorry if you don't like the fact that we've decided to use it." Posted by Jeremey*in*MS at February 3, 2005 01:59 PM

        by Andrew C White on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:32:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Could you help me? (none)
        You write "Modern windmills have a very small footprint"

        What area is this in your view?

        New International Times, the place where Kossacks and the world meet.

        by Welshman on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:49:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't know (none)
          I tried to look it up and couldn't find the article I read a couple of months ago talking about how much land each windmill takes.

          It's not much. I think 1/3 of an acre maybe? It was in reference to farmers. Farmers are renting their land to build windmills. They get monthly payments for the land and the article was talking about how it was such a minor amount of land in comparison to the farm, that it didn't impact the farm at all.

    •  New York State Aubodon Society (none)
      supports wind turbines but they have a list of
      recommendations or conditions they would like
      to be put in place.

      http://ny.audubon.org/wind_power.htm

      To thine own self be true - W.S.

      by Agathena on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:51:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  birds are in serious trouble (none)
    most people have little clue just how much so. But the worst of their troubles come more from habitat loss and migratory deaths, such as the startlingly massive losses from night-migrating songbirds flying into the windows of high rise buildings with the lights on.

    Preserving habitat all over the Americas and campaigning for tall buildings to TURN THE LIGHTS OUT would help birds more than avoiding wind power.

    •  Not to mention... (none)
      Skyrises turning out their lights would save a lot of electricity...
      And it would let the next generation see the stars, too.
    •  Growing up in the city (none)
      with large plate glass windows on the second floor I became used to sparrows and robins flying fullspeed into the windows a few times every year.

      Living in the country in an old farm house I was amazed when a red tail hawk flew into a small first floor window hidden under a porch and behind several large bushes. Broke the storm window glass and broke it's neck. I was amazed that such a recessed window was still a problem.

      "We have the power. Sorry if you don't like the fact that we've decided to use it." Posted by Jeremey*in*MS at February 3, 2005 01:59 PM

      by Andrew C White on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:36:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lights out + make windows less reflective (none)
      An old mill building I worked in years ago installed special blinds designed specifically to prevent birds from flying into the windows.  They seemed to work.

      Perhaps something similar would be a good idea for skyscrapers to prevent bird-kills during the day...

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:37:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Monarch Butterflies were a problem... (none)
    I believe I read something that said Monarch Butterflies had a problem with wind turbines for a while, but I believe it has been fixed. Good diary by the way.
  •  I'd like to address the third argument (none)
    On a recent trip through New Mexico, we passed a number of wind farms.  I would just like to state that they were certainly not ugly, by any stretch of the word.

    The biggest argument I can think of against wind turbines is that when not properly maintained, they can cause substantial noise pollution.
    Compared to most other methods of energy production...  That's not really a legitimate complaint.

    •  I agree... (none)
      Many of the newer wind farms I pass in california are gorgeous, impressive.

      "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

      by wclathe on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:45:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beauty (none)
        I also find wind farms to be beautiful, but some folks still think (though fewer than when it was first erected) that the Eiffel Tower is an eyesore. The aesthetics of our structures are not always agreed on.

        Democrats: Giving you a government that works.

        by freelunch on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:54:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  One missing item from this ... (3.85)
    ...smackdown, Jerome, is the right wing's sneaky role in this "wind power kills birds affair."

    Not usually particularly concerned with environmental matters (including bird kill - remember the spotted owl controversy) - the right, led by the Cato Institute and Washington Legal Foundation, first brought the matter to public attention. Here's an excerpt from David Case at tompaine.com in May 2001:

    "The Sierra Club goes so far as
    to tag wind power facilities as 'the Cuisinarts of the air.'" The same comment was echoed on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" recently by -- get this -- a spokesperson for the Alaskan oil industry. "You
    see," says Cato's Taylor, reflecting on the repetition of his message, "our reports get around."

    So what's going on here? Has environmentalism suddenly become infectious among the smokestack set?

    Doubtful.

    For its part, the Sierra Club doesn't appreciate Cato and company carrying its yoke. Especially because the quote is "not true!" as Ann Mesnikoff bellows emphatically and with some exasperation.
    "Sierra Club strongly supports wind power. It's clean. It's renewable energy. It is a growing part of our energy supply."

    The Cato Institute's Taylor says he found the Cuisinart quote in 1995 book about wind power. That is eons ago in terms of rapidly
    evolving wind power technology, which backers contend is increasingly bird-friendly. (Imagine searching books from 1995 or a useful tidbit about the Internet.) But the fact that the
    quote is old hasn't stopped journalists from parroting it: a exis search yields dozens of references -- a sign that Cato's reports do, in fact, get around.

    Mesnikoff admits that the line was uttered. "It's an old quote, a clever line in a specific fight against a specific [wind] farm in California," says Mesnikoff. It has been taken out of context,
    he says. "It wasn't the Sierra Club's position on wind power. We support wind farms in the right places -- putting a wind farm in   bird flyway or a raptor hunting grounds is not the right place
    for it."

    "So what?" retorts Taylor. "Comments are always taken out of context. What do they want us to do, reproduce an entire speech?"

    Taylor maintains that wind farms are the biggest bird killers in the country. "The most profitable ones are where the wind blows most frequently and the most consistently, which is in the
    wilderness. That's where birds are," he explains. The Audubon Society has called for a moratorium on windmills, he says. The Audubon Society, however, denies this. "We support wind power as
    long as the turbines are well-sited," says Perry Plumart, the group's government relations director.

    Lying, of course, is one of Cato's stock-in-trade.

    "The President wanted to go into Iraq in the worst possible way. And he did." -- Nancy Pelosi

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:23:44 AM PDT

    •  Cato's preferred method (none)


      birds killed by an oil spill

      Follow the money

      Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch's chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers.

      Among those groups are some of the country's most prominent conservative and libertarian voices including the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Federalist Society. All regularly beat the drum in official Washington for the causes the Koch's hold dear--minimal government, deregulation, and free market economics.

      Where's Osama? Bumperstickers should be issued.

      by tooblue on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:09:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed (none)
      NBC reported on turbines last week, and echoed the "environmental groups oppose wind power" meme.

      What stuck in my brain was "which environmental groups?"  Swear to God, Bryan Williams said "environmental groups" and NEVER cited a single one, or an official position of ANY environmental group.

      Also, as I mentioned above, Greenpeace, WWF, and Audobon are all for wind power if done right.

      I'd LOVE to see which groups they were referencing (my guess is none).

  •  Nice diary. (none)
    Although I will point out that your graph showing bird deaths by wind turbine at <1 is not really meaningful given the extreme scarcity of wind farms at present.  I'm not saying bird deaths are a problem, just that the graph is not very meaningful in making your argument.

    To me, bird deaths in wind farms are not really important unless the birds in question are endangered in some way.  In fact, if we could somehow use the wind turbines to suck up a significant number of starlings here in the U.S. we might be able to help our native birds.

    My bigger questions about wind power are:

    • What is the net production of energy after building and deploying the turbines

    • What kind of numbers are we talking about for significant output?  How many turbines are required to replace a coal plant, for instance?

    I also want to add that, for a banker, you have a pretty damn cool job.

    George W. Bush -- It's mourning in America.

    by LarryInNYC on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:27:45 AM PDT

    •  Extrapolated (none)
      The article claims that if wind supplied 100% of electric power, the bird kill rate would be 40/100,000, about 1/6 of communication towers.

      It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

      by George on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:48:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're off by an order of magnitude (none)
        The article says if 100% of energy came from wind farms they estimate 1/250 deaths would be from wind farms.

        That translates to 40/10,000 deaths.  That's still a small number, and compared to the polution generated by other power production, it's a number I would happily accept if I were dictator of America.  Especially if I could eat salmon more often because dams and mercury polution weren't ruining the fisheries.

  •  Wind Farms (none)
    The size of a recent FPL development here in IL was reduced due to local area residents' resistance.  They felt the siting would endanger their homes due to towers falling over or blades breaking off and flying through their homes (it's too bizarre to make up, I was at the meeting), as well as surrounding the town, Lee, IL, on 2 sides.  Bird deaths were also cited.  To their credit, FPL rolled with the punches, kept a bright helpful face, and took what they could get.

    They are still managing to build 40+ towers over a fairly extensive area that should result in 60+ megawatts of renewable non-polluting energy.

    It amazes me how ignorant and resistive some people are to nonpolluting renewable energy, and it is suprising that there are liberal thinkers on the anti side of the equation.

    I found it somewhat dry that the power company desired to build clean energy sources but was opposed by the very people who would benefit most.

  •  Question for Jerome (none)
    This is sort of off-topic, but it's something I've been meaning to ask you.

    I once heard someone call in to TOTN Science Friday on National Public Radio who had an intriguing idea. Apparently there is a maximum amount of electricity that wind power can generate. I think it's around 15%. This is because wind is not consistent (especially at night) and electricity can't be effectively stored. (Please correct me if I'm wrong anywhere)

    The idea was pretty simple: Use wind farms to generate the electricity to extract hydrogen from water. Then use the hydrogen in fuel cells to power vehicles and for basic electricity needs. Of course there is still a ways to go to get the hydrogen fuel cell technology to where it needs to be, and safety is a big concern. But this does seem like a workable long-term goal. What are your thoughts?

    Great diary as always; much appreciated!

    Where's Osama? Bumperstickers should be issued.

    by tooblue on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:36:26 AM PDT

    •  Not off topic (none)
      To be the topic of the next diary!

      European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
      in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

      by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:03:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Magnifique! n/t (none)

        Where's Osama? Bumperstickers should be issued.

        by tooblue on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:12:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  YES! (none)
        way cool.

        Waiting with baited breath.

        Or bait breath (sushi for lunch!)

        Storing wind power in H2 gas makes SOO much more sense than a certain somebody's preferred method of generating hydrogen from natural gas.  

        Much appreciated Jerome!

        "the history shows...that the party with the tough primary usually wins."-Bob Casey Jr. 5/2002

        by Austin in PA on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:26:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Uh? (none)
          Nobody in their right mind would transform natural gas into hydrogen. A person who recommended that would have to be completely ignorant of chemistry and economics.

          Democrats: Giving you a government that works.

          by freelunch on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:59:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually (none)
            If you are specifically looking to create hydrogen, natural gas is the cheapest and most efficient way to make it. It doesn't have as much energy value as the natural gas input used to make the hydrogen, so it is kind of stupid to do it, but that's another issue. Using electricity (from whatever source) to make hydrogen is terribly inefficient, with the hydrogen having only 25% as much energy potential as the electricity used to make it.

            It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

            by George on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 05:58:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks (none)
              Yes, I realized that after I made my comment. What I was thinking of was transforming it just to use as a fuel when natural gas is just as useful, safe and portable (and has a pipeline system in place throughout most of the nation).

              The only possible justification I can see for this is that we decide to permanently capture the carbon dioxide at the transformation, but we don't do that now -- it's too expensive.

              Democrats: Giving you a government that works.

              by freelunch on Tue Jul 12, 2005 at 05:07:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  wind power and storage (none)

      That is precisely a key challenge for wind/solar.

      Hydro/oil/coal/natural gas/nuclear all have intrinsic energy storage mechanisms; the storage is built into their fuel (or into the height/width and location of the dam, for hydro).

      No such practical storage mechanism yet exists for wind/solar.

      Some sort of hydrogen-based generation/storage cogeneration is often suggested, yes. Conceptually that is way cool, but needs much R&D to become practical, and unless I missed it, there's pretty much bupkis allocated for such R&D in W's energy "plan". :-)

      As a side note, hydrogen for vehicles is much, much further away, because of energy storage density. Not an overwhelming problem for a windfarm storage facility (you "just" build bigger tanks, or go cryo), but for an automobile a storage tank big enough to give you a 350-mile range wouldn't leave room for any passengers.

      -Jay-

  •  Altamont (4.00)
    The problem with the Altamont Pass wind farm is not so much that it kills birds, but raptors in particular.  It happens to have a very high concentration of birds of prey, including perhaps the highest concentration of Golden Eagles in the world.  It's a different problem than the one faced by migratory birds hitting buildings, since those are primarily song birds.

    That said, the answer is to have fewer, larger, turbines as opposed to abandoning wind power altogether.  Wind is way too valuable an energy source to abandon because of birds.  Just take our rodent eating friends into account when siting and designing wind farms.

    •  Or have many smaller wind farms... (none)
      The big wind farms are utility-grade.  Keep in mind that a critical mass of individual farmers and rural folks can, in a distributed generation fashion, create a large amount of wind-generated power.  These are not only smaller, they also provide backup in case of a national outage.

      Demand Energy Independence by 2020!

      by Doolittle Sothere on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:56:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anyone else remember? (none)
      The near extinction of Bald Eagles?  From DDT, but never the less it seems to me we all - birds and people - stand a better chance trying to avoid wind turbines than we do avoiding silent killers like pollutants and chemicals.

      I'd bet on wind turbines being the safest for most of the living creatures on the planet over nuclear or coal power sources.

    •  And use modern, slower turbines, and ... (none)
      ... pay attention to where the windmills are being sited.

      Alatamont has been truly a unfortunate situation - the particular type of windmill used is exactly the type that does the most damage (but was the technology at the time), combined with the particular location, has led to nasty, nasty levels of bird-kill.

      This sad case has had one beneficial result: the newer technologies are less injurious to birds, in part, because of the Altamont experience.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:45:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Call me silly, but... (none)
    I think the wind farm on the Minnesota/Iowa border is quite beautiful.  It warms my heart every time I drive by it.

    As for birds, how much damage to bird populations is caused by acid rain, habitat destruction, and the other side effects of fossil fuels?

    "I'm not big on propaganda. I leave that to the Republicans."
    -Howard Dean

    by Leggy Starlitz on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:49:24 AM PDT

    •  Tourism (none)
      Tourism has turned out to be one of the surprise benefits of wind farms.  In the eyes of many people, the machines are fascinating and their graceful motions are beautiful.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:46:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent pick up. (none)
        Could you please give me the source for this information on tourism. It is very important here.

        New International Times, the place where Kossacks and the world meet.

        by Welshman on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:58:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tourism will die off (none)
        As the novelty wears off.

        But I'll tell everyone who think pretty matters: go take a look (and a sniff) at a hog factory.  A farm isn't some icon of middle america, it's a food factory.  And what matters is what makes money.  And wind farms make farmers and ranchers money.  The fact that they're not near the eyesore or stench of a hog factory is irrelevent.

        I suppose if you spent a couple million bucks for a palatial spread overlooking a scenic vista, you might be opposed to them.  But the farmers won't care about the view.

        I do agree, I comment, that they look neat.

        "Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." --Mark Twain

        by bhurt on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 02:42:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Small Wind Farms = Individual Energy Independence (none)
    Wind farms really come in 2 sizes -- utility grade (megawatt) and 'residential' (kilowatt).  Ignoring state incentive grants / rebates, it costs about $30K installed for a 10kW residential turbine (1 kW is about what a family uses in a single month).  A rough average is that a 10kW turbine can generate about $2-3K per year in electricity 'income'.

    Note that the wind doesn't blow all the time (nor does the sun shine all the time during the day).  However, the wind does blow sufficiently in many areas of the country to make wind turbines economically viable, assuming you can tolerate a 10-year breakeven, after which the initial capital 'cost' is amortized to make the economics even better.

    Wind farms offer a potential bonus to small / family farms, as it enables them to generate additional non-farm revenue (including during the windy winter months).  More importantly, wind turbines can help many, many Americans reduce their aggregate load on the national grid -- and one of the best parts, is that we can watch our electric meters spin BACKWARDS when coupled with 'net metering', which utilities are encouraged/forced to support.

    Wind power should be a dominant theme of active Democrat candidates (but only in the proper context of a rational energy policy leading to energy independence by 2025).  Personally, I'm trying to get 4-6 10kW turbines installed in Miami County, OH, over the next 2 years.  There is a 6 x 10kW pilot farming installation about 15 miles from my house called the Dull Homestead .  This active farm expects to reduce their annual electric bill from $35K to under $15K per year.

    Demand Energy Independence by 2020!

    by Doolittle Sothere on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:53:24 AM PDT

    •  While I agree that we need to focus ... (4.00)
      ...on alternative, renewable energy, it confuses matters to post (1 kW is about what a family uses in a single month).

      Wrong terminology.

      Depending on where you live, and how large, well-built and well-insulated your home is, you're likely to need between 1 and 1.5 installed kilowatts to power your home. This has nothing to do with what is consumed in a month, but how much you need to meet your peak power needs.

      Typical American families consume 700-900 kilowatt-hours a month.

      For instance, I burn 5 kilowatt-hours a week just using my clothes iron. Here's a chart.

       

      "The President wanted to go into Iraq in the worst possible way. And he did." -- Nancy Pelosi

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:18:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct, thanks. (none)
        It is 'kilowatt hours', not raw kW, that is consumed.  I know better but was typing too quickly and didn't edit sufficiently.  

        I have seen estimates that an average family uses about 1,000 kWH per month, and have verified this with my own family of 4.  I stand behind the rest of the post.

        Demand Energy Independence by 2020!

        by Doolittle Sothere on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:35:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A number of conservation experts ... (4.00)
          ...argue that the U.S. has done only half or a third as much as it could do in terms of lowering electricity usage. Some of this can be done with better home weatherization, appliance standards and building codes. Thus, we could "generate" what Amory and Hunter Lovins call "negawatts," the cheapest kind of electricity there is, the kind you don't have to make at all. So, if, thanks to conservation measures my iron only used 800 watts of power instead of 1100w, and your family only consumed 875 kWh instead of 1000, we wouldn't need as many wind turbines or natural gas plants or whatever.

          Of course, that approach works for an industrialized country well-established on the grid. It's useless for a village in the Congo or Indonesia that doesn't yet have electricity. A wind turbine or two and/or some PVs would work best for them, obviating the need for stringing expensive power lines.

          "The President wanted to go into Iraq in the worst possible way. And he did." -- Nancy Pelosi

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:47:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  good idea (none)
      Farmland, especially cornfields, has relatively few birds, compared to just about any other habitat.

      Most likely, as far as bird populations are concerned, farmland is about the best place to place turbines.

      •  Yes, kind of... (none)
        The BEST place to site wind turbines is on WINDY land.  Due to the modest noise issues with wind turbines, it turns out that rural/farming communities are the best suited.  I respect your deep respect for our feathered friends.  From everything I have read, this is a red herring put forth by big oil, et. al. to discredit wind generation.

        Demand Energy Independence by 2020!

        by Doolittle Sothere on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:40:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Another type of turbine (4.00)
    We need to look at all alternative energy methods. I've been keeping an eye on this one for some time now.

    Marine Current Turbines

    Marine current turbines work, in principle, much like submerged windmills, but driven by flowing water rather than air. They can be installed in the sea at places with high tidal current velocities, or in a few places with fast enough continuous ocean currents, to take out energy from these huge volumes of flowing water. These flows have the major advantage of being an energy resource which is mostly as predictable as the tides that cause them, unlike wind or wave energy which respond to the more random quirks of the weather system.

    The technology under development by MCT consists of twin axial flow rotors of 15m to 20m in diameter, each driving a generator via a gearbox much like a hydro-electric turbine or a wind turbine. The twin power units of each system are mounted on wing-like extensions either side of a tubular steel monopile some 3m in diameter which is set into a hole drilled into the seabed.

    31 May 2005 - Seaflow's 2nd Birthday

    The Seaflow 300kW experimental turbine 3km offshore from Lynmouth, Devon, has now been operational for more than two years. This is a world record, as no other marine renewable energy technology of this scale has functioned in a truly offshore environment for as long as this. In recent months consistent automatic operation, usually monitored from our Bristol head office, has been achieved with high levels of reliability. This is thanks to major efforts by MCT's team of engineers who formerly had to access the system often in difficult and uncomfortable weather conditions. As a result, the Seaflow turbine has yielded a wealth of vital data to inform the design of the 1MW commercial prototype, Seagen, which is due to succeed it. Recent work has involved measurements relating to environmental impact, including underwater noise measurements and wake measurements to determine the size of the turbine's "footprint" in the tidal flow.

    The success of Seaflow effectively confirms the technical viability of the MCT concept for monopile-mounted tidal turbines. Seagen, which is planned for installation next year, will aim to confirm the economic viability, and hence the potential for commercial success.

    Seaflow 300kW experimental turbine

    Rotor raised for maintenance

    The rationale for developing this business is based on several robust arguments:

        *In the face of Climate Change and Peak Oil, the world urgently needs to acquire different energy resources with ability to deliver clean renewable energy in line with the Kyoto Protocol (most governments world-wide are committed to this) and Marine Current Turbines can deliver a major and uniquely new contribution to this need.
        *The scope for meeting future energy requirements solely from land-based resources will be constrained by conflicts over land-use; so large renewable energy projects will need to move away from crowded land areas, preferably out to sea. Fortunately, many potentially energetic marine current sites are not far from large electricity markets.
        *Marine Current Turbines Ltd has a competitive lead in its field, together with the most efficient technology and uniquely practical methods for servicing it. Commercial viability is in sight and MCT owns proprietary concepts which are patent protected and should give significant competitive advantage in addition to having "first mover" advantage.
        *Environmental impact is becoming a key issue in gaining consents for energy projects; MCT's technology is believed to have minimal environmental impact in that the physical footprint is very small, and rotor speeds are low enough to enable marine wild life to avoid being harmed by it.

    Flags don't kill people, governments do.
    Take back the flag, take back the government.

    by BOHICA on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:04:31 AM PDT

  •  Renewable energy can be a lot cheaper (none)
    Dutch energy policy is directed at 17 percent of electricity demand being covered by renewable energy sources by 2020.

    Martin Junginger has demonstrated that this can be achieved at considerably lower costs than is the case now. He also found that it might be more financially advantageous to realise part of the objective outside of the Netherlands because, for example, more space is available there for wind turbines or because more biomass is available there.

    Recently, Dutch government has decided to build a large wind farm off the coast by Egmond aan Zee N-H. It will be a mega park, I did not find a link yet. It will be 10 km out in the North Sea, not to be visible from the Dutch beaches!

    Thirty-six wind turbines with an overall capacity of 108 Megawatts will be constructed 10 kilometres off the coast of Egmond aan Zee (the Netherlands). On a yearly basis, the wind turbines will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000 Dutch households. From the end of 2006, the wind farm will start generating sustainable energy, which Nuon will supply to the Dutch market. The project involves an investment in excess of €200 million.


    Shell Wyoming

    Wind Farm Zeeland Kreekrak  

     ~~~
    Diaries/Comments @BooMan  by Oui

  • Qaida al-Jihad claims London bombings
  • Yasser Salihee ◊ Reporter Murdered :: Story He Died For
  • Osama - Asadabad in NE province Kunar

     ~~~

  •  I should have punched him in the nose (none)
    I remember a few years ago (visiting a friend) at a picnic in the Berkshires bumping into some guy who started  fuming against wind power, how loud the machines were, how environmnentally unfriendly, that they are ultimately more damaging than fossil fuels etc etc.  (I am mathematician/physicist so my all I could do was really role my eyes).

    I later learned this guy was George Gilder. BTW he later started pontificating on Bell's theorem (which I do know quite a bit about) and it this point I decided I better leave this idiot alone. The one thing I have in common with this moron, is regrettably, we both went to The school between central and Porter squares.

  •  Excellent. (4.00)
    Excellent Jerome.

    I posted on wind a few weeks ago:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/5/25/112821/690

    and dealt with the bird issue like this:

    "And don't buy this hookey about turbines killing birds.
    Ok, turbines DO kill both birds and bats but the damage is relatively minor and can easily be alleviated through such thing as turbine redesign, rotation speed variance, turbine height variance and locating turbines out of migration and flight corridors (often just a few yards in difference).

    Consider that for every 10,000 human-caused bird deaths in the United States, only 1-2 of those deaths are caused by wind turbines.  900 million birds die every year from running into glass windows.  The Exxon-Valdez spill killed over 500,000 birds.
    Wind energy is a great resource.  NO energy resource is without its problems and challenges but wind and solar offer so many more benefits and so many less detriments than do fossil fuel sources."

    Further, I think the turbines are gorgeous.  

    "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

    by environmentalist on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:19:59 AM PDT

  •  Needs further study (4.00)
    Most of the studies you site are in Europe, and some are for offshore windfarms.

    I agree with windfarms in theory, but we need to study not just how many birds die, but what kinds, before putting them in everywhere. In particular, we need studies on Wood Warblers, which are only found in North and South America.

    Offshore locations are most likely to be the safest to birds. Moreover, birds that migrate at night, and at lower altitudes are likely to be the most strongly effected. Most of them are small perching birds.

    The worst locations are likely to be on major flyways, and by far the worst are likely to be at places such as on the shore of major bodies of water, where migratory birds are either stopping to rest after a long flight, or resting before one. Because of the amount of birds that fly at higher elevations over water, or avoid migrating over water when it is possible, offshore locations are likely to kill much less birds than other locations.

    What we need are studies detailing smaller night-migrating birds. Also, we need studies focussing on individual families of birds. Most likely, given migration altitudes, it will be the same types of birds that fly into buildings, such as wood warblers here in the U.S., that most often get killed by them. If that is the case, we can use data on bird collisions with buildings to tell us where windfarms would have the least impact on birds.

    In particular, we should figure out which birds are likely to be the strongest impacted, and avoid their flyways.

    What also needs to be determined is whether certain times of migration for certain birds account for most of the fatalities. For example, most night migrating birds would be most at risk right before sunrise, when they are landing for the day. It may be possible to simply find a way to steer them away from the turbines in the first place, possibly using either noise or lights during the last half hour before sunrise.

    I'm not saying windfarms kill massive amounts of birds. What I'm trying to say is that we need to understand which types of birds they kill, where and when those birds migrate, and where, in those areas, will the windfarms have the least impact.

    Also, studies showing the actual number of bird fatalities are likely to report smaller numbers than other causes - simply because there aren't that many wind turbines already in use, compared to other causes such as vehicles. With a greatly increased number of wind turbines, that would change drastically.

    One other thing we need to know, brought up by one of the studies you cite, is how many more birds are killed by larger turbines than by smaller ones, and how much more elctricity is generated by larger ones. For example, if larger turbines generate 5 times as much electricity, but kill twice as many birds than smaller ones, we'd be better off with fewer larger ones, but if they kill 10 times the birds, then we'd be better off with more of the smaller ones. It'd be interesting to have that studied, come up with a concrete link, and find out which are likely to cause the least bird fatalities per actual electricity produced.

    As for actually laying the whether or not it kills birds argument to rest, we really don't have enough information to put that to rest. More importantly, rather than trying to put it to rest, we should just, at this point, assume wind power is going to be here to stay, and try to focus rather than arguing back and forth if it kills birds, which types of birds it kills, whether it creates population pressures for certain species in certain areas, and how to minimize that.

  •  Washington State Wind Farms (none)
    Several counties in Washington State have proactively zoned to promote wind farms with the full support of the local residents. More about that here http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/planning/energy/E-wind.aspx

    Klickitat County hopes turbines blow revival its way Seattle Times, WA - Jul 10, 2005... said Bruce Morley, chief executive officer of Wind River Power, a consortium of companies aiming to build a 300-megawatt wind farm in central Klickitat County. ... http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002371688_energyzone10.html
    Rural Klickitat County city floats plan for massive wind farm Longview Daily News, WA - Jul 4, 2005... said Bruce Morley, chief executive officer of Wind River Power, a consortium of companies aiming to build a 300 megawatt wind farm in central Klickitat County. ... http://www.tdn.com/articles/2005/07/04/biz/news03.txt

  •  It's all about the specific context. (4.00)
    In some places birds are at greater risk.  So, as we begin to develope wind farms, we must be sure to do the approriate studies at each site.  Sites along migratory routes and certain landscape configurations tend to have higher mortality.  In North America, many migratory routes are very concentrated, birds funnel into narrow "streams".  Part of the solution there is to temporarily shut the turbines down during peak migration.

    At this point you can't cite a few studies and extrapolate.  Each situation is unique. And as Jerome points out, each project requires a comprehensive assessment.

    It's not just birds that are effected.  Bats may be more sensitive than birds.

    Source During the last couple of years, biologists discovered significant bat kills associated with wind turbines, especially in forested upland areas similar to the Penobscot Mountain site," said Dr. Howard Whidden, assistant professor of biology at East Stroudsburg University.

    ...snip...

    "It's only been a couple of years since we realized wind turbines can impact bats," he said. "It's a particular concern because bats live quite long and have a low reproductive rate. A new mortality factor can really impact populations."

    I am very supportive of wind energy, I make part of my living as a consulant for wind farms.  I believe we need to go into this with our eyes wide open.  The bird issue is not a closed case.

    There are other impacts on the environment from wind farms.  The most important being access roads that have an effect on wetlands and habitat fragmentation.  This a greater concern in forested landscapes and less important in the plain states.

    Overall, the effects of wind energy are far less then other sources of energy.  However, let's not let that keep us from attending to the negative environemtnal consequences that they do have.

    We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb

    by petewsh61 on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:38:21 AM PDT

  •  Here's an another alternative energy possibilty. (none)
    Biodiesel from algae.

    FYI. I don't know if you've heard about it. It looks very promising...

    "...NREL's research showed that one quad (7.5 billion gallons) of biodiesel could be produced from 200,000 hectares of desert land (200,000 hectares is equivalent to 780 square miles, roughly 500,000 acres), if the remaining challenges are solved (as they will be, with several research groups and companies working towards it, including ours at UNH). In the previous section, we found that to replace all transportation fuels in the US, we would need 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel, or roughly 19 quads (one quad is roughly 7.5 billion gallons of biodiesel). To produce that amount would require a land mass of almost 15,000 square miles. To put that in perspective, consider that the Sonora desert in the southwestern US comprises 120,000 square miles. Enough biodiesel to replace all petroleum transportation fuels could be grown in 15,000 square miles, or roughly 12.5 percent of the area of the Sonora desert (note for clarification - I am not advocating putting 15,000 square miles of algae ponds in the Sonora desert. This hypothetical example is used strictly for the purpose of showing the scale of land required).  That 15,000 square miles works out to roughly 9.5 million acres - far less than the 450 million acres currently used for crop farming in the US, and the over 500 million acres used as grazing land for farm animals.

    The algae farms would not all need to be built in the same location, of course (and should not for a variety of reasons). The case mentioned above of building it all in the Sonora desert is purely a hypothetical example to illustrate the amount of land required.  It would be preferable to spread the algae production around the country, to lessen the cost and energy used in transporting the feedstocks. Algae farms could also be constructed to use waste streams (either human waste or animal waste from animal farms) as a food source, which would provide a beautiful way of spreading algae production around the country.  Nutrients can also be extracted from the algae for the production of a fertilizer high in nitrogen and phosphorous. By using waste streams (agricultural, farm animal waste, and human sewage) as the nutrient source, these farms essentially also provide a means of recycling nutrients from fertilizer to food to waste and back to fertilizer.  Extracting the nutrients from algae provides a far safer and cleaner method of doing this than spreading manure or wastewater treatment plant "bio-solids" on farmland...."

    http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html

  •  Concerning marine-based turbines (4.00)
    http://safewind.info/articles/answers.htm

    How can you predict whether a particular site is a risky one for birds?
    It's key to collect information about avian activity in an area prior to deciding whether large structures, such as wind turbines, are appropriate. To date, very little data have been collected about the potential impacts of marine-based wind farms on birds, and groups such as the National Wind Coordinating Committee Avian Subcommittee caution that land-based data do not apply to marine-based sites and that some findings from previous research "may need to be revisited for wind farms with tower heights in excess of 300 feet" [7]. At the very least, it is important to know the species of birds that transit or reside in the area of the proposed construction and how they use that site. The degree of risk posed by any site (on land or offshore) depends on both the number and types of birds that may be affected, as some species are more vulnerable than others.

    What do you recommend?
    Many prestigious wildlife and environmental organizations and avian biologists insist that developers conduct adequate avian studies prior to constructing wind turbines in marine waters. To insist on a proper environmental review does not imply either endorsement for or opposition to a certain project. Instead, it demonstrates a concern for the environment and a desire to get things right the first time around. Proactive study is always better than retrospective regret. .

    To thine own self be true - W.S.

    by Agathena on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:45:58 AM PDT

  •  Go fly a kite (none)
    Inspired by this April 2005 diary entry of yours on wind power, I did a little googling and discovered that, yes, somebody had already thought about harnessing the power of the jet stream.  Wind power need not be earthbound.

    Flying Electric Generators

    More on FEGs at Sky WindPower Corporation.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

    by Bragan on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:15:13 PM PDT

  •  I love Wind Farms (none)
    The new ones with the giant turbines are awesome. I think that with the sustained investment in this technology, they will be a great way to diversify our power generation.

    I especially like the one in Weatherford, OK.

  •  No problems about birds if the wind farms are site (none)
    Thanks Jerome. No problems about birds if the wind farms are sited properly and away from migratory routes.

    I am pleased that you will be addressing the issues of ugliness and reliability - although aesthetics seems a rather subjective aspect to me. Good luck on this one :)

    I am concerned that you have chosen not to answer any of the other equally serious questions raised in the discussions in your diary yesterday nor to correct the apparently wrong information that you supplied about the land area required for each wind power generator.

    I will try and explain these points more fully in another diary for you to pick up and discuss.

    New International Times, the place where Kossacks and the world meet.

    by Welshman on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:33:24 PM PDT

  •  Good for you (none)
    If I had the proper science education, I'd be doing exactly what you are doing.  I hope you expand your energy investment banking to British Columbia.
    1. We have some of the best wind 'resources' in the world in some parts of the provinces.

    2.British Columbia Hydro, the government owned, independently run power corporation recently  decided to allow independent power producers to add power into the grid.  This was a decision a long time in coming and should make wind production viable in large parts of the province.

    3.B.C Hydro just decided against a large hydro electric project on Vancouver Island.  This project was literally decades in the planning and throws the future power needs of Vancouver Island completely up in the air.  Now would be a perfect time to make a proposal to B.C Hydro for energy provision in that part of the province.

  •  thank you so much for this (none)
    It makes me nuts when I hear people complain about wind farms.  This is evidence that I can USE in the future.

    And the argument that they are, shall we say, unsightly, makes me even more nuts.  PEOPLE!  Would you rather have a nuclear plant or coal burning in your back yard?  I think not.

    Once again, thank you Jerome!

    "Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment...but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society."

    by saint on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 01:52:51 PM PDT

  •  Come on, Jerome (none)
    We are both better than this sort of discussion.

    Unless you insist, please don't ask me to answer in detail your points.

    I'd rather deal with the bigger issue.

    Just understand that here in Wales there are furious, and I mean furious, arguments going on about wind power and I simply don't know the answer and find it extremely difficult to judge from the competing claims.

    This is the view of the Campaign For the Protection Of Rural Wales:

    "CPRW therefore does not accept that the approach proposed in the MIPPS and delivered through TAN 8, is either justified or defensible. CPRW is particularly concerned that the evidence necessary to build confidence in the proposed approach is flimsy. The statement provides neither justification nor quantitative proof that the approach will reduce CO2 emissions especially given the nation's increasing patterns of energy consumption.  

    CPRW does not accept the overriding priority and the planning advantage MIPPS provides for the development of onshore wind power stations. CPRW believes the use of wind power should only occur where its environmental impact is demonstrably and significantly outweighed by the energy benefits it achieves. ....CPRW believe that this ill conceived policy framework must give much greater credence to the contribution that energy conservation measures and the range of other renewable technologies can realistic offer for it to be plausible.

    If these options, along with an increased emphasis on energy conservation were robustly promoted, the 4TWh target could be easily reduced. This would avoid the irrational rush to develop massive banks onshore wind installations and hence the need to sacrifice large areas of the uplands of Wales to the surrealistic fate of industrial turbinescapes."

    Jerome. My posts did not say you were wrong  except on one issue where I think you will probably agree that you made an error. They simply ask that you, as a proponent of wind power, address some of the sort of deep questioning that is going on in Wales regarding what is a very live issue. Period.

    I really didn't expect or want such a personal based response from you, just a rational reply. Forget the questions.

    New International Times, the place where Kossacks and the world meet.

    by Welshman on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 03:56:08 PM PDT

  •  McKibben on NIMBY, Aesthetics et al vs. Wind (none)
    Thanks for this suberb diary. You've probably seen this essay.  First appeared as Op Ed in NYT 2/16/05. Tilting at Windmills. Read it at http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0216-29.htm.
    That is not to say that every Adirondack ridgeline should be turned into a wind farm. ...But this site is precisely the sort of place environmentalists should applaud, and insist on: it's privately owned, and there's already a road and a high-voltage line. Because of the mine, much of the land was even zoned industrial, a rarity in the park.

    So here environmentalists should step back and say, especially in this cradle of American wilderness, that the price is worth paying. To see that blade turning in the blue Adirondack sky - to see the breeze made visible - should be a sign of real hope for the future.

    I sure hope no one's complaining that the view from the ski slope (referenced in the essay) will be spoiled. Now that's environmental irony.
    (Apologies if essay has been previously referenced; did a search but am not too clear on how. McKibben's book The End of Nature is listed under environment on this site's bibliography.)

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