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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 15th, 2010, 10:52 pm 
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Fascinating... Because the more I look alternative energy sources the more convinced I am that wind (where there is good wind like like along Lake Ontario, or on PEI, is a very practical and viable energy source.
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I'd be interested to know how much you did look into it to reach that conclusion. Until there are ways to store power when it's not used for the times that the wind is not blowing and you need it, wind will not be a viable source of power on a large scale. Germany has not shut down a single coal generating plant despite the wind farms she's put up, because you can't count on wind supplying enough energy. On a small scale, it may work, as on a boat or a vacation property without much energy demand, but for industry? No.
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Rapt said
As far as noise goes, any large, modern unit is quiet. The noise of thw wind blowing typically exceeds the audible noise of the turbine when standing near it. At a distance if you can hear it then its either small or poorly designed. The large units on PEI can't be heard with the the windows closed in your car when parked literally at the base of the tower. The noise floor in a typical home from appliances etc. would easily drown it out if it were right next to the house. At a distance of 500m or more its not ever going to be an issue.
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I keep hearing this from people who don't live near wind farms -- they go out one day or visit a few times over the week to see what all the fuss is about, and then say their is no noise factor. I went out to Alliston myself where there is a large wind farm, and there was noise, although not necessarily a lot. But people stand right under the turbine and say there is no noise -- the noise is being carried downwind just like the wake turbulence created by the blades. People who live around turbines will tell you there IS noise, and it is more noticeable at night when you're sitting outside in the quiet. People like Erhard's brother (from his post on the first page of this discussion) who has a B & B a KILOMETER away from a turbine, and who's customers complain about the noise.

And then there is the whole problem of shadow-flicker, and ice-throw, etc. etc.
Legislated Setbacks in some European countries, from what I found, are actually being increased due to health and safety concerns.

Very few wind farms in Ontario have been in operation for over 10 years, I would say the problems they may have created have barely had time to come to the forefront yet. Much more work should be done before more are erected and the taxpayers and energy consumers are sucked dry for another 20 years by costly yet inefficient energy production.


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 16th, 2010, 7:55 am 
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skypuppy wrote:
Germany has not shut down a single coal generating plant despite the wind farms she's put up, because you can't count on wind supplying enough energy.

The EU is finally looking to end subsidies keeping coal industry cheap and dirty in the midst of clean and renewable alternatives.

"As Europe Kicks Coal, Hungarian Town Feels Pangs" or "The End of Coal in Hungary" (Slideshow).

Many existing coal plants have been retrofitted with scrubbers and adapted to burn alternative fuels (biomass and agricultural waste) in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. And yet change often comes at the cost of local jobs and the demise of towns and industries built around old practices. In the midst of a global recession, some counties are reluctant to make these changes too fast ... or face political challenges in doing so (unwilling to repeal non-competitive and long standing subsidies making dirty practices cheap).
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In many parts of the world, coal-fired plants and mines rely on government assistance for some of their profits, if not their survival. In the United States, the coal industry benefits from federal tax breaks and gets indirect support through the availability of tax-exempt bonds, loan guarantees and lien accommodations to support investment in coal plants. The European Union’s goal is not to completely eliminate coal but to replace it, where it is not economical, with cleaner forms of power. But ending coal subsidies is not easy.

Please read article (here too) and provide numbers/sources on wind and solar penetration in overall energy mix in Germany, Spain, Denmark (exported energy to rest of EU) before repeating old, grumpy, and misinformed canards.

Energy Profile for Germany

”End of an Industrial Era: Germany to Close its Coal Mines” (Spiegel online)

”EIA: Energy Data and Analysis for Germany”. Coal consumption down some 30% from 1991 to 2008, production almost cut in half, energy intensity on rise, as with most countries, and Germany seems to be using affordable brown coal and imports to make up the difference (it has almost no hydro development). What this says to me … energy efficiency/demand has not kept up with production alternatives and an outdated pricing structure, subsidies, for dirty industries, thus people are taking the road of least resistance.


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 16th, 2010, 10:24 am 
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idylwyld wrote:
skypuppy wrote:
Germany has not shut down a single coal generating plant despite the wind farms she's put up, because you can't count on wind supplying enough energy.

The EU is finally looking to end subsidies keeping coal industry cheap and dirty in the midst of clean and renewable alternatives.

"As Europe Kicks Coal, Hungarian Town Feels Pangs" or "The End of Coal in Hungary" (Slideshow).

Many existing coal plants have been retrofitted with scrubbers and adapted to burn alternative fuels (biomass and agricultural waste) in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. And yet change often comes at the cost of local jobs and the demise of towns and industries built around old practices. In the midst of a global recession, some counties are reluctant to make these changes too fast ... or face political challenges in doing so (unwilling to repeal non-competitive and long standing subsidies making dirty practices cheap).
Quote:
In many parts of the world, coal-fired plants and mines rely on government assistance for some of their profits, if not their survival. In the United States, the coal industry benefits from federal tax breaks and gets indirect support through the availability of tax-exempt bonds, loan guarantees and lien accommodations to support investment in coal plants. The European Union’s goal is not to completely eliminate coal but to replace it, where it is not economical, with cleaner forms of power. But ending coal subsidies is not easy.

Please read article (here too) and provide numbers/sources on wind and solar penetration in overall energy mix in Germany, Spain, Denmark (exported energy to rest of EU) before repeating old, grumpy, and misinformed canards.

Energy Profile for Germany

”End of an Industrial Era: Germany to Close its Coal Mines” (Spiegel online)

”EIA: Energy Data and Analysis for Germany”. Coal consumption down some 30% from 1991 to 2008, production almost cut in half, energy intensity on rise, as with most countries, and Germany seems to be using affordable brown coal and imports to make up the difference (it has almost no hydro development). What this says to me … energy efficiency/demand has not kept up with production alternatives and an outdated pricing structure, subsidies, for dirty industries, thus people are taking the road of least resistance.

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Okay, after looking at most of your links, I tend to look at things a bit differently. What struck me about the first one was this quote, "However, the economics of wind power in Germany are under close scrutiny[13] and there are other issues which deserve consideration. These include the effect of wind turbines on the landscape, the effect on the bird population, and the effect on the tourist industry"

As to the closing of black coal mines what they're saying is they have been paying MORE because they are subsidizing local miners rather than importing cheaper coal from outside. It says nothing about the economics of producing power from coal, it is simply saying it's cheaper to import the fuel than mine it ourselves. And there is still no mention anywhere of them closing a coal-fired generating plant.

Furthermore, even if they were talking about keeping the price of coal-generated energy down through use of subsidies (which they didn't seem to be saying to me), are you saying that subsidizing traditional energy industries and keeping prices down is bad, while subsidizing wind and keeping prices high is good? Not to my mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 16th, 2010, 11:31 am 
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skypuppy wrote:
are you saying that subsidizing traditional energy industries and keeping prices down is bad, while subsidizing wind and keeping prices high is good? Not to my mind.

Coal is a killer, the health impact from emissions far exceed any comparable impact from non-fossil fuel or renewable power generation (noise, bird strikes, back up power, oh my) … the fact that we subsidize it to deliver cheap energy that is wasted on a massive scale (because conservation is not prioritized or priced by the market) is a serious problem (one that has to be looked at closely by consumers and policy makers). This costs us dearly in health costs calculated largely off the books, and often impacting people directly who can't cover these costs (think of a mother paying for hospitalization and medication costs over decades for infant son or daughter with asthma, or a community that can't eat local fish because of mercury contamination). The stats are pretty clear on renewable energy development in Germany (and elsewhere): renewables increased their share of energy portfolio from 6.3% in 2000 to 16.1% in 2009. If conservation ramped up at the same pace, there would be no need to add to existing infrastructure with dirty, dangerous, subsidized, and easy to develop coal. To my mind, there is far more to the bottom line than costs (personal health, non-polluted food supply, lowering asthma and improving air quality, and quality of life being at the top of my list).


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 16th, 2010, 12:31 pm 
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Not following all of the discussion here, but this argument about wind power plants needing fossil fuel (or some other) back up in case the wind is not blowing; and the argument that wind and other renewables will not lead existing coal plants to shut down are both red herrings.

The impacts of coal plants don't stem from their existence--they stem from the volume of coal that is burned, and the volume of carbon dioxide and other emissions that therefore get released.

If wind power can replace some generation that would otherwise be supplied by coal, and therefore result in the coal plant having to burn less fuel, the impact of the coal plant will be reduced--even if we have to keep it open to provide supply during calm or high demand periods.

Moveover, development of new windpower will help alleviate our GROWTH in energy demand. If we don't build new wind plants, we'll have to build some other kind of plant, and right now, the default source appears to be coal, or some other fossil fuel. (Unless you favor damming more northern rivers . . . . . )

None of that argues that any particular wind power plant is appropriate, and if one were proposed in my back yard I would certainly have all kinds of concerns about noise, shadows, bird and bat impacts, fragmentation of the forest to build new roads, etc.

And, as I hope I've demonstrated here in the past, I am by no means convinced that all of the current subsidies for renewable generation are justified on environmental grounds, much less economic ones.

I maintain that is possible to be skeptical (I prefer "realistic" :D ) about wind in general and about any particular wind power project without resorting to specious arguments, and to support development of wind power and other renewables (as we surely must) without resorting to the "anything green must be good" fallacy.

The absolutists on either side of this issue give me gas. :doh:


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 16th, 2010, 12:53 pm 
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idylwyld wrote:
skypuppy wrote:
are you saying that subsidizing traditional energy industries and keeping prices down is bad, while subsidizing wind and keeping prices high is good? Not to my mind.

Coal is a killer, the health impact from emissions far exceed any comparable impact from non-fossil fuel or renewable power generation (noise, bird strikes, back up power, oh my) … the fact that we subsidize it to deliver cheap energy that is wasted on a massive scale (because conservation is not prioritized or priced by the market) is a serious problem (one that has to be looked at closely by consumers and policy makers). This costs us dearly in health costs calculated largely off the books, and often impacting people directly who can't cover these costs (think of a mother paying for hospitalization and medication costs over decades for infant son or daughter with asthma, or a community that can't eat local fish because of mercury contamination). The stats are pretty clear on renewable energy development in Germany (and elsewhere): renewables increased their share of energy portfolio from 6.3% in 2000 to 16.1% in 2009. If conservation ramped up at the same pace, there would be no need to add to existing infrastructure with dirty, dangerous, subsidized, and easy to develop coal. To my mind, there is far more to the bottom line than costs (personal health, non-polluted food supply, lowering asthma and improving air quality, and quality of life being at the top of my list).

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We'll have to agree to disagree. Costs may not be everything, but they are certainly a HUGE part of the society cost/benefit analysis, and I am not willing to give up a lifestyle it has taken me 50 years to afford for something that is not efficient, or proven to be safe. Again, work out the bugs in the system, pay for it as R $ D based on potential profits in the future, and I'll buy in when it makes sense to me.

For another thing I don't believe that coal is necessarily the most evil thing we have on the planet. Putting scrubbers on the coal plants removes much of the problems. The fact that the German (EU) gov't may no longer subsidize black coal mining speaks more to labor and health and safety laws and the benefits coal miners received in Europe (vacation weeks, vacation pay, etc.) and the existing cost of fuel in the EU, which would make extraction and transportation of coal more expensive than it does the efficacy of coal as a power generator.

As far as asthma, etc., I'd look to modern home construction, insulation materials, generally sterile conditions that exist now in many homes before simply blaming it all on coal. Coal has been around for hundreds of years and there are many other chemicals and pollutants that are as bad or worse. Certainly we should try to improve the efficiency and cleanliness of coal-generating plants, but I don't believe th cost-benefit analysis is yet sufficient to do away with it as a source.

What really pisses me off is wind proposals that don't take into account surrounding businesses and neighbors and their impact on them, saying we HAVE to put up this windfarm and save the world. This has already affected me personally. Anyone that says I should put up with a wind turbine in my backyard and dam the consequences, just for the good of the 'world' has lost all credibility with me.

And of course, as this thread has pointed out, Dalton has now taken away my ability to object.


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 16th, 2010, 10:30 pm 
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[quote="native brookie"]Not following all of the discussion here, but this argument about wind power plants needing fossil fuel (or some other) back up in case the wind is not blowing; and the argument that wind and other renewables will not lead existing coal plants to shut down are both red herrings.

The impacts of coal plants don't stem from their existence--they stem from the volume of coal that is burned, and the volume of carbon dioxide and other emissions that therefore get released.

If wind power can replace some generation that would otherwise be supplied by coal, and therefore result in the coal plant having to burn less fuel, the impact of the coal plant will be reduced--even if we have to keep it open to provide supply during calm or high demand periods.

Moveover, development of new windpower will help alleviate our GROWTH in energy demand. If we don't build new wind plants, we'll have to build some other kind of plant, and right now, the default source appears to be coal, or some other fossil fuel. (Unless you favor damming more northern rivers . . . . . )

None of that argues that any particular wind power plant is appropriate, and if one were proposed in my back yard I would certainly have all kinds of concerns about noise, shadows, bird and bat impacts, fragmentation of the forest to build new roads, etc.

And, as I hope I've demonstrated here in the past, I am by no means convinced that all of the current subsidies for renewable generation are justified on environmental grounds, much less economic ones.

I maintain that is possible to be skeptical (I prefer "realistic" :D ) about wind in general and about any particular wind power project without resorting to specious arguments, and to support development of wind power and other renewables (as we surely must) without resorting to the "anything green must be good" fallacy.
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I think that they have proven in Germany, where they still seem to be opening coal-plants as well as wind farms, that wind power as it stands cannot replace traditional sources. You need to be able to supply 100% of your industrial.commercial demand, even if NONE of your wind turbines are turning. This is even more displayed in Denmark where I've read they sell most of their wind power cheap to other Scandinavian countries, and run their own grid mostly with traditional power, because it is way more inefficient to try to ramp down fossil fuel plants when you don't need them and then have to ramp them up again when needed.

Maybe in the future when they have technology to store this energy for when they need, it will work, but for right now it's a make-work project that taxpayers are paying for through their teeth...

As Rapt pointed out, wind is only one of the eco-generators in Germany. Some of the others are much more feasible. Wind in Germany still accounts for less than 7 % according to those articles.


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 Post subject: Re: Blowhard nimbyism...
PostPosted: September 17th, 2010, 10:48 am 
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A combination I hear talked about a lot is coupling wind power with pumped-storage hydropower. When you have excess wind capacity, you pump water uphill. When you need extra power, or the wind isn't blowing, you run the hydro turbines.

It's naive to think that one energy source will be the pancea that will allow us to get rid of all of North America's coal plants, and if we reject on first application any alternative fuel that doesn't meet that standard, I think we're dooming ourselves to the status quo forever.

I don't know about you, but when I look at the consequences of the status quo, I don't think that's a good idea.

At the same time, I think it's helpful to look backwards. In the 1980's here in the US, there was all kinds of well-intentioned legislation to promote "green power" production, and it resulted in relatively small changes in the energy market and in a few fortunes for entrepreneurs who figured out how to work the system.

The best way (and in the long run probably the only way) to make renewables more competive and to reduce consumption--both of which need to happen--is to raise energy prices. For obvious reasons, that's not a popular solution, and it has real-world consequences, especially for folks who are already struggling to keep the heat and lights on.


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