Documents filed under Pollution
This study examines changes in peat bogs resulting from peat extraction and grazing. The study also found that a far more significant impact to these land forms in the long term, with far greater and more rapid change has occurred as a result of windfarm construction. The authors write that "Although the installation of individual turbines over blanket bog often results in the extraction of peat in isolated locations, the associated infrastructure of tracks and electrical cable conduits has wider impact not only on the hydrology, but also on peatland geomorphology." According to the report "Windfarm installations have already significantly altered the functioning of some of these ecosystems, and without urgent protection some of the blanket bogs identified here may soon be lost. Action of a most urgent nature is needed from the governments of Cantabria and Castilla y León in order to retain what remains and restore these systems to important natural carbon sinks." The full report can be accessed by selecting the document links on this page.
This important letter by the Australian Minister of the Environment declares recognition of the continuing concerns raised by communities over wind project siting and operation. The letter includes two attachments that outline a plan to facilitate addressing wind farm complaints and also examine how the country can move away from builting turbines in favor of other emerging technioogies. The full letter can be accessed by clicking the link on this page.
Since 1997, an increasing fraction of electric power in the U.S. has been generated from natural gas. This paper examines the reduction in emissions as a result of U.S. power plants shifting away from coal. The abstract and conclusion of the paper are excerpted below. The full paper can be accessed by clicking the link on this page.
Recent reports by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and others suggest that the emissions-reducing benefits of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar may have been overstated and the cost of cycling fossil-fueled plants underestimated. These findings may change how utilities and policymakers weigh the costs and benefits of wind and solar energy.
To NLRA Members and Stewards of the Newfound Lake Watershed, regarding the proposed Wild Meadows Wind Project: The NLRA has been paying close attention to the proposed Wild Meadows Wind project, and we are taking it very seriously. Several NLRA Trustees attended the first meeting of Newfound Wind Watch. During that meeting we stated that this topic would be thoroughly discussed at a planned upcoming Board meeting. Trustees and staff met with Wind Watch leadership in late October and reiterated our commitment. Staff and Trustees attended the Iberdrola presentation in Alexandria on November 14th to continue gathering information At our recent Board meeting, after careful consideration and deliberation, the NLRA Trustees unanimously approved the following position:
Wind power has the potential to reduce emissions associated with conventional electricity generation. Using detailed, systemic hourly data of wind generation and emissions from plants in ERCOT (Texas), CAISO (California), and MISO (Upper Midwest), we estimate the SO2, NOx and CO2 emissions offset by wind generation in those territories. Our estimation strategy implicitly captures both the marginal unit of generation displaced by wind on the electrical grid, and the marginal emissions reduction from that displaced unit. Our results reveal substantial variation in emissions reduction by territory, which appear to be strongly driven by differences in the existing generation mix. While the environmental benefits from emissions reductions in the Upper Midwest roughly cover government subsidies for wind generation, environmental benefits in Texas and California fall short. Finally, we provide back-of-the-envelope calculations for the average national reductions in emissions per megawatt-hour of wind energy.
Individual members of the grassroots group Ridge Protectors Inc., filed an appeal in Vermont's Environmental Court arguing that more ground would be disturbed by the Sheffield wind facility than was approved in the storm water discharge permit issued by the State's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). The wind developer, First Wind has been approved by the Vermont Public Service Board to erect sixteen 2.5 megawatt wind turbines along a ridgeline in Sheffield, Vermont. The final brief filed by the Ridge Protector appellants can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. An excerpt of the brief is posted below.
The November passage of Initiative 937 adds Washington to the states with renewable portfolio standards. Wind-powered generation is a resource of choice in meeting renewable standards, and it has been highly touted for its environmental benefits. Considered in isolation, the environmental benefits of a wind resource are undoubtedly warranted. However, it is misleading to consider wind on an isolated basis—that is, outside of the context of the full power-supply portfolio that is necessary to serve load. In the context of an integrated portfolio, much of the environmental benefit disappears and may even be non-existent as compared with other resource portfolio choices. In particular, a full assessment of the impact of wind resources on the environment necessitates a look at the energy consequences of adding wind-generation to an integrated portfolio in the context of meeting load. Accounting for energy, it is likely that there is no significant environmental difference between a resource portfolio adding wind generation and one adding high-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbines. It is also likely that the wind-based portfolio results in little reduction, if any, in the need for fossil fuels and therefore little reduction in the exposure to their price swings and environmental consequences. That is, the emissions and fossil-fuel impacts of a wind-based portfolio appear little better than a non-wind-based portfolio. Editor's Note: This paper makes a critically important point re. wind's purported environmental benefits, i.e. "...it is misleading to consider wind on an isolated basis—that is, outside of the context of the full power-supply portfolio that is necessary to serve load. In the context of an integrated portfolio, much of the environmental benefit disappears and may even be non-existent as compared with other resource portfolio choices." In short, wind's environmental benefits (if any) will be grid-specific depending on the emissions generated (if any) of the reliable generating source(s) required to back it up.
The Heartland Institute Comments on SCOTUS Greenhouse Gas Decision
California is in the process of implementing a broad portfolio of policies and regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This paper summarizes the initiatives likely to impact the electricity generating sector. We present calculations showing that there is a substantial risk that two of the most prominent policies could simply result in a reshuffling, on paper, of the electricity generating resources within the West that are dedicated to serving California. This reshuffling is different from the conventional leakage problem as it involves no physical changes to the way electricity is generated across regulated and unregulated regions, but is instead driven by a contractual reshuffling of who buys power from whom. The problem is similar to an ineffective consumer boycott. The problem is still present but less severe if more Western states adopt carbon limitations. We also show that some of the least market-based initiatives, the renewable portfolio standards (RPS), are likely to have the biggest near-term impact on the carbon-intensity of electricity generation in the West. Thus the scale of RPS programs may be limiting the potential role of non-renewable options in reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector.
An indictment of the Scottish Executive and regulatory incompetence and indifference......‘One is left with a clear impression of inertia, bungling, duplicity, poor communication, procrastination, obfuscation and, quite frankly, shoddy and incorrect decision-taking both in temporal and technical terms'.
Why did you petition to become an intervenor in this matter before the NH SEC? With New Hampshire’s recent reinstatement of PILOT agreements and legislative efforts to a Renewable Portfolio Standard, the regulatory groundwork is being laid for more wind facilities to enter the state. Yet, New Hampshire, like many states, has no consistent regulatory process in place for reviewing these projects to ensure our environmental, societal, and economic interests are protected. The work the NH SEC has agreed to undertake in reviewing this application is precedent setting. How the committee approaches its review and the weight it places on arguments presented by all sides will impact other developments in the State as pertains to renewable energy projects. There are a multitude of conflicting issues at play when considering any wind project. My commitment to this process is to help provide, to the best of my ability, valuable and timely information that will assist the Committee in making an informed decision on this application.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen. Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000 wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm.. .You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive, otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental history or grid operations. Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened policy.
Today, we adopt an interim greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance standard for new long-term financial commitments to baseload generation undertaken by all load-serving entities (LSEs), consistent with the requirements and definitions of Senate Bill (SB) 1368 (Stats. 2006, ch. 598).2 Our adopted emissions performance standard or “EPS” is intended to serve as a near-term bridge until an enforceable load-based GHG emissions limit is established and in operation.......Under SB 1368, the EPS applies to “baseload generation,” but the requirement to comply with it is triggered only if there is a “long-term financial commitment” by an LSE. The statute defines baseload generation as “electricity generation from a powerplant that is designed and intended to provide electricity at an annualized plant capacity factor of at least 60%..........Pursuant to SB 1368, the performance level of the EPS must be “no higher” than the emissions rate of a CCGT powerplant.11 However, the statute does not specify the emissions rate for a CCGT. Based on our review of emissions rates associated with a broad range of CCGT powerplants of varying vintages, we adopt an EPS emissions rate of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour (MWh).Editor's Note: This provides interesting insight into the rationale behind establishing 1,000 pds of CO2/MWh as an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) for baseload generation. Please note that in Figure 1 "Net Emissions Comparison Data' the net emissions accorded 'wind electricity' should have been accorded to 'solar thermal with Gas Assist'.
Editor's Note Presented on October 20th during the 2006 Electric Market Forecasting Conference sponsored by EPIS, Inc. this addresses, in part, the issue of whether emissions are reduced with the addition of industrial wind energy. This is a large pdf file (8.55MB) and is available via the weblink below.
Rick Webb's presentation on October 17 at the Energy Virginia conference provides a thought provoking analysis of the costs and benefits of industrial wind energy.
This is the pdf version with charts of Sen. Inhofe's speech. The full text version of the speech is available via the link below.
Virginia Wind (Dan Boone & Rick Webb) has submitted the attached comments (selected extracts appear below) to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in response to material filed by and on behalf of Highland New Wind Development (HNWD) purporting to quantify air pollution emission reductions that the Highland County wind project would achieve. The HNWD submission to the SCC responds to a request from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a "backdown study" to determine potential emissions displacement by identification of electrical generators that will reduce output in response to the HNWD wind project. The HNWD submission to the SCC makes the extreme and unusual claim that emissions displaced by the proposed HNWD project would be entirely from coal-fueled electrical generating units rather than from a mix of generator types, including the cleaner quick-start units that are generally higher on the economic dispatch order. The HNWD claim is based on material submitted by Alden Hathaway and Deborah Jacobsen, who are affiliated with the state-supported Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative. Their arguments largely rely on an appended report by the consulting firm Resource Systems Group (RSG), which, in turn, supports its conclusions with summaries of confidential data that are not available to the SCC, the DEQ, or the public. The RSG report claims similar benefits for proposed wind energy projects in Virginia's Roanoke and Patrick Counties. Virginia Wind contends that uncritical acceptance of claims and analysis regarding unverifiable benefits would be well outside the norm for either scientific debate or public policy deliberations, especially in a contested case such as this. Virginia Wind has accordingly requested that the SCC and the DEQ defer any consideration of HNWD's "backdown" study until all of the data that underlie the analysis, including detailed wind power data for the actual project site, are provided and made available for public and agency review. Virginia Wind has also requested an opportunity to provide additional comments once the data necessary for informed review are provided.
It is broadly accepted that wind turbines do not emit CO2 at the point of generation. However, in common with all types of power station, it is emitted during their construction and, through damage directly inflicted on the construction site, over a much longer period. The total debt will vary from site to site but will comprise some or all of the following; • Emissions arising from fabrication (steel smelting, forging of turbine columns, the manufacture of blades and the electrical and mechanical components); • Emissions arising from construction (transportation of components, quarrying, building foundations, access tracks and hard standings, commissioning); • The indirect loss of CO2 uptake (fixation) by plants originally on the surface of the site but obliterated by construction activity including the destruction of active bog plants on wet sites and deforestation; • Emissions due to the indirect, long-term liberation of CO2 from carbon stored in peat due to drying and oxidation processes caused by construction of the site. It is important to recognise that peat is a major store of carbon accumulated from dead plant remains over many millennia. It is held in perpetuity because the bog’s wetness and acid conditions prevent the access of oxygen and inhibit the growth of bacteria which would otherwise rot the vegetation. Draining peat for construction reverses both these long-term processes: the soil is exposed to the air, the carbon is converted to CO2 and released slowly to the atmosphere. Several papers from the wind industry in Denmark and the UK have addressed the first two points with estimates of payback time ranging from about six to 30 months. However, the industry rarely, if ever, considers the last two. This is a fundamental omission as their contribution to the overall CO2 debt, in particular the last, can be far greater than all the others put together. This paper outlines a procedure for quantifying it. The guide has been prepared to enable anyone with access to the Environmental Statement (ES) that forms part of a Planning Application (PA) for a wind farm to estimate its CO2 debt. (If some of the requisite information proves to be unavailable, this ought to provide grounds for postponing consideration of the application and the commissioning of further assessment.) The results of the calculations described should be submitted to planning authorities or Public Inquiries as part of the arguments used in assessing the merits and demerits of an application.
...the MEA Report can be used to estimate the value (avoided emissions) of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) by providing both REC suppliers and stakeholders with information that can be used to communicate the environmental benefits of RECs and works to enhance the overall REC marketplace. Editor's Note: As noted below under Methodology [emphasis added], this report appears to substantiate the point that wind energy would not backdown "baseload" generation.