Recently, there was a headline in a newspaper. It said: Wind Farm to be Built. The farm was to have 22 turbines and stretched an unbelievable 7.5 km along a ridge. The paper went on to say that the farm would generate 93 Megawatts when at full capacity. That would be enough to power 40,000 homes. The truth is it will hardly ever be at full capacity. In fact, most of the time it will be well below that. If the wind is too strong they will be disabled. If the wind doesn’t blow, then there will be no power. The supply will be very unreliable. Worldwide, the average output of a wind farm is just 25% of its theoretical capacity. So this particular wind farm will power 10,000 homes NOT 40,000 as stated.
Here is a picture of the proposed site for the new wind farm. That’s native bush you see, most of which will disappear, and the ridge is predominately limestone which will have to be blasted for the turbine bases. The bush contains the rare NZ native falcon and many native pigeons. All will disappear when operations begin there, and should any return later they will probably be sliced up by the turbines.
The biggest wind farms in Europe of 160 turbines cover thousands of acres, and together they take a year to produce less than four days output from a single 2000MW conventional power station. Britain would need 32,700 turbines to produce just 10% of its energy needs.
Wind farms require about 400 times the land area than the average natural gas or nuclear plant. Often trees have to be removed. In Scotland, nearly 14 million trees, yes 14 million! have been chopped down to make way for wind turbines. That’s rather ironic isn’t it. Trees remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. The production of concrete to form the base of a turbine also releases Carbon Dioxide. Isn’t Carbon Dioxide the gas that the climate alarmists want to reduce?
What are the consequences of preparing the land for a wind farm
If the wind farm is on pasture land, then obviously that productive land is taken out of production. If the land is covered in vegetation then all the vegetation has to be removed by bulldozers. This may include vital trees as in Scotland. The site for each turbine has to be excavated using a digger. Soil may have to be taken away in trucks and that means roads have to be formed to give truck access. Truck access will have to be used later to transport all the components for the turbines. The hole excavated for a single wind turbine has a volume equivalent to that of a 25m swimming pool. The excavated soil and rock has to be taken away and the hole filled with sand, aggregate, and concrete. For 2MW turbines nearly 100m high, the foundations may be 5-7m deep and have 30,000 tonnes of concrete. The emissions from all these vehicles used to build a turbine, include Carbon Dioxide, and Carbon Dioxide is produced in the manufacture of cement. The environment is affected and so is the visual impact.
A site on a forested ridge requires clearing 2-3 Ha of clearance per tower, the towers spaced every 200 to 300 metres is typical. Ideally they should be spaced much further apart as one turbine can decrease the production of another, if they are placed too close.
The picture below shows the preparation for the base and tower of a turbine
Photo: Stop these things, from Spiegel International
What about the material in a wind turbine
Each unit requires cement, sand steel, Zinc and Aluminium. Tonnes of Copper are needed for the generator, for the gearbox, for the transformers and for kilometres of cable. A medium size turbine may contain almost 70 tonnes of Copper. To extract this amount of Copper, miners extract about 50,000 tonnes of earth. The ore then has to be processed. A lot of the environment destroyed for not much “green” power.
Large industrial wind turbines have hundreds of tonnes of steel, Aluminium, plastics, Copper, and rare earths used in the generator magnets.
What about the material in the blades?
It has been found that balsa wood provides the backbone for millions of blades for these wind turbines. The Amazon has been stripped bare to provide the balsa wood. The increased demand has led to deforestation in the Amazon basin. An organisation called Balseros began to illegally deforest virgin Balsa from the islands and banks of the Amazonian rivers in order to overcome the shortage of cultivated balsa wood. This has had a terrible impact on the indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorean Amazon.
Each blade of a turbine consumes about 150 cubic metres of balsa.
Balseros having stripped out Ecuador then moved into the Peruvian Amazon. There is devastation among the indigenous communities.
This report has come from Open Democracy by Francesc, Badial Dalmases.
Turbines are huge. The tower can be up to 100m. The turbine housing is the size of a bus. The blades are from 30m to 50m long and the tips move at 250km per hour. The tower weighs over 56 tonnes and the whole tower assembly weighs over 163 tonnes.
Here’s the irony of wind turbines. Oil drips from and is flung off wind turbines. Almost 850 litres may be present in a single 1.5 Megawatt turbine, and there are cleaning and cooling fluids. The transformer at the base of each turbine contains up to 2,500 litres of oil. The substation transformers where a number of turbines connect to the grid contain over 40,000 litres of oil each. Multiply the oil used by each turbine by the number of turbines and you see that an enormous amount of oil is used. So apart from using a precious resource, what about the production of the oil? I would think much Carbon Dioxide would be produced. Isn’t the aim of wind farms to cut down on Carbon Dioxide emission?
The consequences for birds and animals
This is a major factor usually ignored by the climate alarmists. You would think that conservationists who make up a good proportion of the climate alarmists, would be concerned about the welfare of birds and animals. But no they are not.
The world’s wind turbines are slicing and dicing thousands of birds and bats every year. Wind farms are slaughterhouses rather than power generators. Not only birds and bats, but millions of tonnes of beneficial bugs get splattered annually.
I have mentioned the building of a wind farm. Recently, an article appeared in the same newspaper with the following headline:
THREATENED BATS FOUND NEAR PLANNED WIND FARM
It went on to say that protected long tailed bats have been found near where the South Island’s biggest wind farm will be built. So here’s another headache for the developers. They have already had to shift a population of lizards from the site and now they are faced with the problem of the bats. Shifting them is not an option. There are endless cases where animals and insects have had to be shifted from a proposed wind farm site.
Construction on mountain ridges diminishes important forest beyond the clearing of the wind farm area itself. Here is a report of a visitor to the Blackbone Mountain facility in the USA: “ I looked around me, to a place where months before had been prime country for deer, wild turkey, and black bear, to see positively no sign of any animals about at all. This alarmed me, so I scouted in the woods that afternoon. All afternoon, I found no sign, sight or peek of any animal about.” (A problem with Wind Power: Eric Rosenbloom).
The wind industry is doing a good job of extinguishing millions of birds and bats each year. Entire species are under threat, including Europe’s Red Kite and Tasmania’s Wedge Tailed Eagle. Thousands of seabirds are also under threat. In Britain, the Lesser Black Backed gull has suffered a huge decrease in numbers. There has been a serious 99% decline in these birds. A 2019 study by the British Trust for Ornithology found that the gulls are particularly vulnerable to collision with wind turbines. GPS tracking showed that the gull is at risk from turbine blades during migration and in the winter months. Vast areas of wind farms lie just off the coast.
This Bird in Flight
Photos: Stop These Things: Jason Endfield Blog
While we are at the sea, it has been found that offshore wind farms leave lobsters with deformed and crippled young. The magnetic fields generated from the cables, attracts crabs which then become immobilised by the magnetic field. The same magnetic fields deform the young of lobsters so that they become crustacean cripples. That’s probably a death sentence for these creatures. Because of the thousands of these turbines being set up all round the coast of Britain, lobster fishermen may be out of a job.
Back on Land. In the USA, the Obama administration issued 30 year permits for taking (killing), bald and golden eagles. This is so they can be legally killed by wind turbines. Altamont Pass has one of the USA’s largest wind farms. In 2004 Dr. Shawn Smallwood in his study over four years, estimated that the Altamont Wind farm killed on average, 116 Golden Eagles each year. He also estimated that the farm killed over 6000 other species each year, including bats.
Photo from Windmills Kill: St Francis Arboreal and Wildlife Assoc.
The Spanish ornithological Society reviewed actual carcass counts from 136 sites. They concluded that the 18,000 of Spain’s turbines were killing somewhere between 6 and 18 million birds and bats yearly. There were similar German and Swedish studies.
On this basis, extrapolating to the USA with its 39,000 wind turbines, it could be that in the USA somewhere between 13 and 39 million birds and bats are being killed each year. Wind farm owners in the USA search only inside a 65 m radius from the turbine, though carcasses are flung much further than that. Further, they only look once every 30 to 90 days, during which time scavengers will have removed the carcasses, and they ignore wounded birds.
The reduction in the number of bats is a serious issue. Bats control forest pests and serve as pollinators. They are attracted to wind turbines because of the insects that swarm around wind turbines.
Whatever the number of birds and bats killed each year is, the fact is large numbers are killed and this is leaving some species dangerously low in numbers.
Fire in Turbines
One in every 2000 wind turbines catches fire.
It is difficult to get the number of turbines in the world at present, as it seems more fashionable to give the power output. The latest figure I have is from 2017 when there were 350,000 turbines worldwide. If we divide 350,000 by 2000 we get 175. So in 2017 about 175 turbines caught fire. Now in 2022 there will be considerably more turbines. So the number of fires could be well over 250 per year.
Damage by fire is usually caused by overheated bearings in the gearbox, a lightning strike or sparks thrown out when the turbine is slowing down.
The gear box contains up to 250 litres of oil in newer turbines. The filters are changed after 500 hours, while the gearbox oil is changed about every two years. A specially adapted machine can change the oil in about two hours, while it takes technicians about 8 hours to do the same job.
Photo: Stop These Things
The photo show a typical wind turbine fire. Note the thick black smoke from the oil and plastics burning.
Turbines also disintegrate at times. Some collapse completely. The most common type of failure is with the blades. Lightning destroys many towers by causing the blade coatings to peel off, rendering them useless. If the blades keep spinning then they will be out of balance and that can bring down the whole tower. The blades are easily damaged by wind also. Parts and sometimes whole blades, can be ripped off by high winds and have been known to fly 8km. In one case a piece went through a window of a house. Ice is another problem especially in high country regions. Ice can be flung as far as 500 metres. One piece of ice found off a turbine, was about 15 cm thick, a metre wide and just under 2 metres long.
( from John Zimmerman, AWEA discussion)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Author, Western Area Power (13)
All the turbines in the photo have been damaged by high winds.
Noise and illness produced by wind farms
Newer turbines may have quieter bearings and gears than older ones, but the huge magnetic generators produce a low frequency hum. Every time each blade passes the tower there is a deep resonating thump. The difference in wind speed between the top and bottom of the blade produces a swishing sound. This sound is much more pronounced further away from the turbine and the collective noise from all the turbines, has been described as being as loud as a motorcycle or aeroplane.
The European Union found that noise complaints were valid. In the US the recommendation was that wind turbines be placed no closer than a kilometre from any dwelling. In Germany the recommendation was 2 kilometres.
There is also the disturbing flicker, particularly when the sun is behind the blades. Major problems are sleep disturbance, nausea, heart palpitation, depression, headaches and vertigo. People all over the world have been driven off their land, due to noise and health effects from turbines.
According to the World Health Organisation, industrial wind turbine noise is perceived to be more annoying than transportation or industrial noise at comparable sound levels. Industrial wind turbine amplitude modulation, audible low frequency noise, tonal noise infrasound and the lack of night time abatement have been identified as plausible noise characteristics that could cause annoyance and other health effects.
There are case studies produced in the Wall Street Journal of March 1, 2010, by Robert Bryce.
In 2007 a number of wind turbines were built around Charlie Porter’s property in rural Missouri. Soon Mr Porter and his wife and daughter, had trouble sleeping. The noise he told me made sleeping almost impossible. “We tried everything- earplugs, leaving the TV on all night.” Nothing worked. Late last year he moved his family off the 20 acre farm.
Mr Porters story is not an isolated event. In New Zealand, more than 750 complaints have been lodged against a large wind project near Makara, west of Wellington, since it began operating in April 2009.
In Waubra, In Victoria Australia, seven properties have been bought out by Acciona, the Spanish wind company that owns the site. Here and overseas the landowners sign ‘gag’ agreements that prevent them from broadcasting their concerns, once they have been bought out by the wind companies.
In Denmark, protests from more and more Danish neighbours of wind turbines on land have stopped wind power projects and made local politicians reluctant to approve licences. Several places around the country see acrimonious conflicts between the authorities and neighbours of wind turbines says a report in the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten. People are thoroughly fed up having their property devalued and their sleep disturbed by big wind turbines up to 200m high, says the chairperson of a new Danish national association. Forty Danish protest groups have already joined.
It is clear then that industrial wind turbines can harm human health if sited too close to residents. As more wind farms are built, more people can be expected to present themselves at medical centres with ongoing health problems caused by the turbines.
Disposal of the blades
Wind turbine blades are supposed to last for 20 years, but in fact their life is less than that. Generally, the blades are not recyclable. The problem of blade disposal is now emerging as a significant factor for the future.
After their life is over the blades have been tossed into landfills. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be about 45 million tonnes of blade waste. Despite its negative consequences, landfilling has been the most commonly used method of turbine blade disposal so far. The mixture of wood and epoxy will take a long time to degrade. Methane and other volatile organic compounds will be released into the environment.
The blades are cut into pieces on site due to their very large size, and this requires heavy cutting equipment. A typical blade may weigh 30-40 tonnes. In the UK the cost to put blade material into landfills is about $60 US per tonne, so that’s about $2400 per blade. In the US, the cost is about $130 per tonne. Note, these figures are from 2017, and in the USA in 2017 organics and plastics could be dumped. So in the USA, the cost of dumping just one blade was in 2017 a mere $5,200! Earlier blades were made of fibreglass. Lately, balsa wood is used, sandwiched between layers of epoxy. But balsa wood is fast running out.
Below are turbine blades ready for burying
Photo: Daniel Y Teng
Here they are being buried.
On the positive side, attempts at recycling are being made. But the cost of getting the blades to recycling plants usually means the blades end up in landfills.
Incineration has been tried. Unfortunately toxic gases are produced along with smoke and soot. Carbon Monoxide and formaldehyde are left as residue from the thermal degradation of epoxy resin. After incineration, 60% of the blade is left as ash, which is sent to landfills and is a contaminant.
Mechanical processing is also tried. The blade material is cut, shredded and ground, in order to separate the fibres from the resins. The dust emitted in the grinding process creates health and safety risks for the workers. Skin and eye contact is not pleasant either. The fibre particles can be used as a filler reinforcement in the cement or asphalt industries.
Chemical degradation is also used. The blades are reduced into small pieces and then a chemical applied to degrade them. Hazardous chemicals like nitric acid and paraformaldehyde have been used. Exposure to these chemicals can cause harmful respiratory diseases like nasal cancer.
Just to finish this part; There are estimated to be about 3800 blade failures each year. So these failed blades go to landfills perhaps long before their time. It is not uncommon for turbine blades to fail only months after coming into operation.
Below is an abandoned wind farm at Big Island in Hawaii. As time goes on there will be many more of these as it is realised that they are uneconomic, don’t deliver when the wind doesn’t blow, use up valuable land, and cause illnesses in those close to them. Further, the cost of removal and disposal would be extremely high. It is difficult to get a figure on just how many abandoned wind farms there are at present but it could be very substantial. The proponents of these things would never disclose such information.
Abandoned wind farm in Hawaii
Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Author Eli Duke. (14)
Footnote: It seems Forest and Bird are strongly in favour of unreliable wind energy and turbines which use large quantities of materials in manufacture, including copper, decimate the landscape, make people ill, catch fire, and collapse frequently, but don’t give a damn about all the forest areas razed or the millions of birds and bats killed every year.
Ian Bradford, a science graduate, is a former teacher, lawyer, farmer and keen sportsman, who is writing a book about the fraud of anthropogenic climate change.