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The Science of Industrial Wind in MA and the Eastern US

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Dr. Ben Luce’s presentation “The Science of Industrial Wind in MA and the Eastern US,” while focused primarily on the impacts of locally produced wind-generated power, also provides the larger context for why we must pursue renewable energy, especially solar.

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The Science of Industrial Wind in MA and the Eastern US

  1. 1. The Science of Industrial Wind in MA and the Eastern US Ben Luce, Ph.D Email: ben.luce@lyndonstate.edu
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  3. 3. Comments made during thepresentation:• I was a strong advocate of utility-scale wind and other renewables in New Mexico, and expected to support some level of utility scale wind development in the Northeast prior to studying the issue of wind in this region in detail.• I also believe that very aggressive action to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change is needed.• Given that I am a strong advocate of renewables, I will not address the larger debate of renewables versus other non-renewable energy approaches such as nuclear power and clean coal in this presentation. 2
  4. 4. An issue of:• Which renewable energy sources have real potential to mitigate climate change?• What environmental and societal impacts from energy generation are acceptable?• What are the costs? Where should we invest our money?Bottom line:• Which renewable energy sources, and when?• Which conservation measures, and when?Failure to get this right potentially endangers everything 3
  5. 5. Renewable Electricity Options in the Northeast Utility-Scale Photovoltaics Biomass Wind (PV) (wood, cows, etc) Imported Small-Medium Small-Medium Renewables Wind Hydro
  6. 6. • I will be focusing mainly on wind and solar in this presentation, because I do not believe that small wind, small hydro, or biomass-fired generation represent significant renewable electricity options for the Eastern US, simply because of their very small resource potentials.• The next slide shows a good source for estimates of what the Department of Energy (specifically the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) considers as the maximum amount of commercially viable (strong enough resource), onshore generation that could be installed. Note that “Installed capacity” doesn’t refer to existing capacity, but rather potential installed capacity. 5
  7. 7. State (Onshore) Wind Resource Data:http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov 1028 MW ~ 1 GW 6
  8. 8. Factoring in the “Capacity Factor” • Capacity Factor specifies how much actual energy will be produced relative to peak capacity: Energy Actually Produced in a YearCF  Energy Produced if at Peak Capacity for a Year • Not the same as “conversion efficiency” – CF measures Intermittency • Even if one accepts that wind generation can be integrated effectively (CO2 reductions realized), the low CF of wind means 3-4 times the amount of ridgeline per unit capacity relative to conventional generation. 7
  9. 9. • The following slide shows that there is legitimate literature suggesting that utilities are having significant problems at the present time with fully achieving potential greenhouse gas emission reductions with wind power due to integration issues.• While I do not consider this a fundamental issue, it may at least bear on where public funds for emission reductions should be concentrated in the near future. 8
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  11. 11. Effective Onshore Wind Power Capacityin Massachusetts• NREL data applies to CF=.3• NREL Estimates onshore MA Peak Capacity = 1 GW• Effective Wind Capacity: .3*1 GW = .3 GW• Current average MA consumption = 6 GW (average)• 54 million MWh/year – http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/massachusetts.html – (54,000,000 MWh / 8760 hours) =~6000 MW (average)• Potential average onshore wind penetration: (.3 GW/6 GW) x 100% = 5% 10
  12. 12. Number of “Mountain Systems” Required• 1 GW of Peak Capacity in MA• = 333 Three MW turbines• 5 turbines/mile• ~70 miles of ridge, not counting access roads• 10 turbines/project on average:• ~33 Mountain Systems 11
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  14. 14. Question:• Is it worth developing 33 mountain systems in MA to provide just 5% of MA electricity? – Environmental impacts? – Impact on people? – Impacts on the local economy? – Cost relative to alternatives? – Despite impacts, would this still be “doing our part” to encourage significant regional wind development? 13
  15. 15. • The following two slides visually illustrate the impact of developing 1000 MW of ridge line wind generation in MA.• The slides after this illustrate the impacts from a closer perspective.• Note that fairly wide and fully developed road beds and wide, level clearings (of roughly equal area to the swept area of the rotors) are needed for this type of development, due to the enormous weight and length of the trucks and their loads involved. Extensive blasting and bulldozing of the mountaintop is required, which incurs extensive impacts to streams, wetlands, bedrock, and of course plant and animal life. 14
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  18. 18. Mars Hill, Maine SUMMER 2011
  19. 19. Wind Turbine Construction Mars Hill, Maine~700,000 pounds of explosives being used on the Lowell Mountains SUMMER 2011
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  35. 35. SheffieldWind Bear Scarred Trees SUMMER 2011
  36. 36. BR C R AK AN TR L“An industrial VT-9project the size of Town ofthe one proposed W-1 SEARSBURG S RD RN AI K EN W-2would displace Bear W-3 ES DE D W IL GE W-4 Scarred ORlarge numbers of GE W-5bears from this Trees W-6 RD Town of W-7 W WOODFORD Ocritical habitat and LL HO W-8 Y W-9 E EP SLcause long-term W-10 Existing Searsburg Facharm to the bear VT-8population in E-1 E-2 E-3southern E-4 E-5Vermont.” E-6-Testimony of Forrest Hammond, Deerfield E-7Wildlife Biologist Vermont ANR to Vermont PSB Wind SUMMER 2011
  37. 37. Headwaters, Streams, Wetlands Sheffield DeerfieldGeorgia Mountain Lowell SUMMER 2011
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  40. 40. • The impacts to ecotourism (meaning economic benefits in general related to the scenic beauty of the area) are potentially endangered by ridgeline wind development.• Many people genuinely feel the experience of seeing a project the first few times to be enjoyable, which is understandable given what these projects represent to them, the sheer scale of the turbines, and the novelty of the experience.• It’s a different question entirely whether people will like to vacation or maintain second homes in an area in the long run with extensive ridge line wind development. The study referenced on the following slides shows that, for example, vacationers in Vermont greatly value the unspoiled nature of the state. 40
  41. 41. Vermont Brand Study• Commissioned by the Vermont State Department of Tourism• This study thoroughly surveyed the attitudes of nearly 1000 people who vacation in Vermont• Available at: http://www.vermontpartners.org/ 41
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  44. 44. “Unspoiled, Beautiful,Mountains” 44
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  47. 47. • The following slide shows that although the impact of low-frequency noise from wind turbines is not fully understood in physiological terms, there is peer-reviewed research indicating that low-frequency noise can couple physically to the cochlea.• There are also a growing body of literature suggesting that impacts to health are occurring, in particular impacts associated with loss of sleep. 47
  48. 48. Noise and Health Low-frequency noise, including “infrasonic” noise, from wind turbines may in fact be affecting the health of people in the near vicinity of turbines: Peer-reviewed research:  “Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines”  Hearing Research, Volume 268, Issues 1-2, 1 September 2010, Pages 12-21  Alec N. Salt, a, and Timothy E. Hullara  a Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, Box 8115, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA See summary at http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/windmill.html 48
  49. 49. • The following slide shows the “spectrum” of wind turbine noise. The graph shows that wind turbines created prodigious levels of infrasonic (subsonic) noise, which places them in a somewhat different category from many other noise sources.• Unfortunately, set-backs for wind projects today do not yet take into account potential impacts due to infrasonic noise. 49
  50. 50. ”The noise generated by wind turbines is ratherunusual, containing high levels (over 90 dB SPL) ofvery low frequency sound (infrasound). 50
  51. 51. · The Noise From Wind Turbines: Potential Adverse Impacts on Children’s Well-Being Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 291-295, doi:10.1177/0270467611412548 Sign In | My Tools | Contact Us | HELP Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Search all journals Advanced Search Search History Browse Journals Alec N. Salt and James A. Kaltenbach Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect HumansTable of Contents Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 296-302, doi:10.1177/0270467611412555August 2011; 31 (4) Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Clear Add to Marked Citations Carl V. Phillips Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects Willem H. Vanderburg of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents Assessing Our Ability to Design and Plan Green Energy Technologies Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 303-315, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 251-255, doi:10.1177/0270467611412554 doi:10.1177/0270467611412558 Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions http:/ / www.windturbinesyndrome.com/ news/ 2011/ special- issue- of- peer- reviewed- journal- devoted- to- wind- turbines- health/ Full Text (PDF) Request Permissions P Robert Y. McMurtry John P. Harrison Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Wind Turbine Noise Industrial Wind Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 256-261, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 316-320, doi:10.1177/0270467611412549 doi:10.1177/0270467611415075 Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Bob Thorne Carmen M. E. Krogh The Problems With “Noise Numbers” for Wind Farm Noise Assessment Industrial Wind Turbine Development and Loss of Social Justice? Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 262-290, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 321-333, doi:10.1177/0270467611412557 doi:10.1177/0270467611412550 Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Arline L. Bronzaft The Noise From Wind Turbines: Potential Adverse Impacts on Children’s Well-Being http:/ / bst.sagepub.com / content/ current Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 291-295, doi:10.1177/0270467611412548 Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Alec N. Salt and James A. Kaltenbach Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 296-302, doi:10.1177/0270467611412555 Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions Carl V. Phillips Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 303-315, doi:10.1177/0270467611412554 SUMMER 2011 Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Request Permissions
  52. 52. Human Hearing is Logarithmic• Quietest sound we can hear: 1 trillionth of a watt per square meter.• Our ears are super-sensitive vibration sensors• It potentially doesn’t take a great deal of noise to create problems.• Even though many do live in noisy environments already, this does not imply that noise is not a problem, and that it’s perfectly ok to increase noise in the few remaining quiet regions left. 52
  53. 53. • There are serious issues with respect to the impact on species such as birds and bats.• While its true that large numbers of birds are killed by other means, this does not imply that killing more with wind turbines is acceptable. Moreover, the number of birds and bats killed by turbines could potentially rise to very significant levels if significant levels of wind generation is eventually installed. The number of birds and bats killed by wind turbines currently may be statistically insignificant, but the amount of wind power generation is also currently essentially statistically insignificant. 53
  54. 54. Getting Serious:• Is the sacrifice still worth it, despite the impacts?• Perhaps we would be still be saving the planet from global warming?• Let’s see how much of a contribution onshore wind power in the Eastern US could really accomplish. 54
  55. 55. U.S. Wind Resources Nearly all of the U.S. wind resources are located in the center of the country and offshore 55
  56. 56. East vs. West: Relative Ranking of State Wind ResourcesSource: www.windpoweringamerica.govCapacity - in peak gigawattsRanking State 1901 1 Texas 2 Kansas 952 3 Montana 944 4 Nebraska 918 5 South Dakota 818 6 North Dakota 770 7 Iowa 570 Massachusetts has 8 Wyoming 552 Less than 1/10,000th 9 Oklahoma 517 of 10 New Mexico 492 US Onshore Wind . 25.6 Resource 15 New York 25 Maine 11.3 Potential 29 Pennsylvania 3.3 27 Vermont 2.9 30 New Hampshire 2.1 31 West Virginia 1.9 33 Virginia 1.8 34 Maryland 1.5 35 Massachusetts 1.0 56
  57. 57. Total for Onshore Eastern Wind Resources• As estimated by DOE (unlisted states have little or no potential), in peak gigawatts (GW): – New York: 25.6 GW – Maine : 11.3 GW – Pennsylvania: 3.3 GW – Vermont: 2.9 GW – New Hampshire: 2.1 GW – Virginia: 1.8 GW – West Virginia: 1.9 GW – Maryland: 1.5 GW – MA: 1.0 GW• Total: 52 GW (50% in NY)
  58. 58. Iowa vs. Massachusetts (approximately to scale)Iowa has a huge, two-dimensional high-average-wind-speed wind resource.MA has a small, essentially one-dimensional wind resource. This resource is alsolocated mainly in environmentally sensitive areas.
  59. 59. Effective Onshore Wind Power Capacity in the entire Eastern US• NREL data applies to CF=.3• NREL Estimates Eastern Peak Capacity = 52 GW• Effective Wind Capacity: .3*52 GW = 15.6 GW• Current average US consumption = 450 GW• Potential average onshore Eastern wind penetration into current US load: (15.6 GW/450 GW) x 100% = 3.5%• Long term: Probably less than 2%• Maximum CO2 reduction: ~ 1% 59
  60. 60. < 0.04% CO2 Reduction Potential < 2% CO2> 100% CO2 Reduction Potential Reduction Potential 60
  61. 61. Conclusion #1• MA will not be encouraging the development of a significant regional source by encouraging onshore wind development.• Funds are limited. Diversion of money into wind could likely delay more effective measures considerably. 61
  62. 62. Conclusion #2• Precisely because Eastern wind resources are quite small, the energy industry will develop every (windy) ridgeline it can.• Projects are already being proposed and built throughout the Northeast: The Wind Rush is on. 62
  63. 63. Conclusion #3• In the long run, something else will have to carry 96+% of the electrical load in the East, regardless of onshore wind development.• Only solar power and offshore wind power have the physical capability to contribute significantly . 63
  64. 64. The Solar Resource• Fundamentally different from wind: – Much, much larger and well distributed resource • The only serious onshore renewable power resource in the Eastern US – Much more scalable • Much more flexibility on siting – Rooftops, small backyard systems – Myriad out-of-the-way, suitable sites for “solar orchards” – Additional power lines are not needed – Much better correlation with peak load – Much more distributable in small pieces • Slower minute-to-minute variation overall • Close integration with natural gas power plants not needed, or needed nearly as much 64
  65. 65. Solar Power: Vast potential with negligibleimpact, IF sited and installed carefully 65
  66. 66. Careful Siting and Installation of Solar• Careful siting of solar is crucial to avoiding undue impacts and maintaining public support. Fortunately, the solar resource is so vast that this is possible (unlike the situation with onshore wind resources in the Eastern US)• Some siting criteria include: – As out-of-sight as possible – Avoid unduly compacting soils – Avoid shading vegetation too much – Obtain local public support first – Tailoring projects to the local load: Avoid new power lines 66
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  69. 69. • The following slide shows a little known but crucial fact: The cost of wind power has simply failed to come down to the low levels it was predicted to in the 1990s. In fact, it has increased in cost since about 2001.• This is due to wind’s intrinsic dependence on large amounts of steel, cement, copper, and other materials.• Solar does is not intrinsically dependent on large amounts of bulk materials, especially thin-film PV. 69
  70. 70. Dept of Energy Wind Power Cost Market Survey:- http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/51783.pdf 70 Year
  71. 71. “As such, 2010 was another year of higher windpower prices. The capacity-weighted average 2010sales price for bundled power and renewable energycertificates, based on projects in the sample built in2010, was roughly $73/MWh. This value is up froman average of $62/MWh for the sample of projectsbuilt in 2009, and is more than twice the average of$32/MWh (all in 2010 dollars) among projects builtduring the low point in 2002 and 2003.” 71 Year
  72. 72. How the Dept of Energy thought the costtrends of wind and solar would continue as of2002: Levelized cents/kWh in constant $20001 40 100 Wind PV 30 80 COE cents/kWh 60 20 40 10 20 0 0 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020• Source: NREL Energy Analysis Office (www.nrel.gov/analysis/docs/cost_curves_2002.ppt)• Wind power failed to meet these predictions• Solar PV is still roughly on track. 72
  73. 73. Additional Transmission Costs for Eastern Wind Power• According to Gordon van Welie, President and CEOof ISO New England Inc: “A conservative goal for 5,500 megawatts of wind power and 3,000 megawatts of hydro power through 2030 would carry transmission costs of between $7 billion and $12 billion.” – From: “New England grid chief: Cooperate on Wind Power”, by David Sharp, Associated Press Writer, August 16, 2010.• (4000+ miles of new transmission lines) 73
  74. 74. • The following slide shows a cost comparison between ridgeline wind and solar (PV) on dollars per watt of capacity. The underlying solar data is drawn from data published by Paula Mints, a respected PV industry analyst.• The graph suggests that solar is converging rapidly with wind. Note that this comparison does not include the extra transmission cost needed for wind development (and which is not needed for solar). If this is added in, it is not clear that wind is cheaper than solar even today, in terms of the total cost to ratepayers. 74
  75. 75. Cost Comparison of Ridge Line Wind Power with Solar Power(not including full transmission costs for wind) 12 10 Retail Installed Cost in $/watt Grid 8 Solar Parity for Solar 6 4 Wind 2 0 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 Month 75 Year
  76. 76. PV Cost TrendPV is on track to become fully competitive by 2015. 76
  77. 77. Wind is a mechanical (old) approach,PV is solid-state• Wind requires coupling a matter flow to a generator: It is intrinsically dependent on moving parts and large quantities (per watt of generation) of: – Cement – Steel – Copper – Other special materials• Wind is essentially a 19th approach to generating power.• PV technologies require no moving parts, and only extremely small amounts of thin film material per watt.• PV is 20th and 21st Century technology. 77
  78. 78. What if?• Some of the billions being invested in wind were invested into weatherization and efficiency? – A true “Manhattan Project” of conservation?• Some of the billions being invested in wind were used to help bring solar down in price, locating good sites, empowering the public? 78
  79. 79. • The following slides show that a wide range of conservationists and biologists are interested in limiting wind development to “already-disturbed- lands”. And they find that doing so would not unduly constrain potential for wind development (at least in terms of resource potential).• It is, in fact, typical for our culture to quickly develop a new energy source (or any new resource for that matter), with little regard for the consequences, and then only later attempt to undo or correct for unforeseen consequences.• With the issue of inappropriate wind development, however, we have a chance this time to avoid the worst, and get renewable energy development focused back on a truly sustainable path towards a bright future. 79
  80. 80. - PLoS ONE | www.plosone.org 1 April 2011 | Volume 6 | Issue 4 80
  81. 81. …a disturbance-focused development strategy would avert the development of ~2.3 million hectacres (about 5.6 million acres) of undisturbed lands while generating the same amount of energy as development based solely on maximizing wind potential.- PLoS ONE | www.plosone.org 1 April 2011 | Volume 6 | Issue 4 81
  82. 82. Optimal Plan for Reduction of Carbon 2010 – 2015 2015 Forward Higher efficiency  Continue other measures Vehicles Weatherization  Greatly expand Photovoltaic transition Energy efficiency Solar Hot Water Wood and Geothermal Heating Plan for, and begin, Photovoltaic transition 82
  83. 83. Closing Remarks• We must act now to reduce emissions.• Public funds and support are limited, and we cannot allow politics and corporate agendas to stand in the way of getting this right.• Failure to get this right potentially endangers everything. 83
  84. 84. Further Discussion? 84

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