Wind Energy Questions

As with all new technologies there are many myths, stories, rumours and facts in the media when it comes to wind turbines. The wind energy questions category is designed to allow people to access to the facts put forward in simple, easily understood language. Topics include noise from wind turbines, effects on property prices and shadow flicker.

Can British communities claim renewable energy grants and the Feed in Tariff?

September 20, 2010

community wind turbine

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has now confirmed that the feed in tariff (FIT) is compliant with European law on State Aid Rules.

However it is still unclear as to what communities can claim to help them install renewable energy projects. Although the European Commission has said that grant recipients should not be eligible to receive the FIT, the latest DECC advice is that in some cases both grants and FITS can be claimed without breaching State Aid rules.

According to DECC…

Read: Can British communities claim renewable energy grants and the Feed in Tariff?

Wind Farm Neighbours

June 29, 2009

Canadian wind farm neighbour Mulikow tries to describe the noise from his next door wind farm in the video below. As with all attempts to replicate ‘noise experiences’ this video struggles to represent accurately wind turbine noise due to the noise of the natural wind in the microphone and the fact that we – the listeners are located out of context. However Mulikaw gives what seems to be an un-emotive, and descriptive account of what it is like to live next to an operational wind farm. Don’t believe him though – go visit one for yourself.

Read: Wind Farm Neighbours

What is Stopping the Severn Barrage?

May 7, 2009

Severn tidal barrage

The idea of an electricity generating tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary between England and Wales has been around for 160 years. Conceptually the Severn tidal barrage is a simple and green renewable energy technology in a location which has the second highest tidal range in the world (next to the bay of Fundy in Canada).

The Severn Barrage has had numerous advocates from James Lovelock and Tony Blair to the Welsh Assembly. Why is it then that every time the idea is resurrected by a new advocate it rapidly disappears from the headlines to sink back into the mudflats?

Read: What is Stopping the Severn Barrage?

Improving the UK Grid for Renewable Energy

March 22, 2009

substation

Access to the grid network is currently one of the key constraints for increased wind energy development in the UK. Our existing electricity grid network is optimised for traditional (centralised) generation. One of the key questions currently being debated is- how grid upgrades for renewable energy projects are going to be funded.

In the UK renewable energy generators pay to connect and use the grid network as part of an “invest and use” strategy currently operated by National Grid Company (NGC) and more local distribution network operators (DNO’s). This incremental strategy will not however be sufficient in the long term and there has been much debate recently as to how we can maximise the use of capacity left in the existing grid network through using technologies such as smart grid, whilst at the same time kicking off the development of new grid infrastructure.

Read: Improving the UK Grid for Renewable Energy

Are Bats Killed by Wind Turbines?

March 14, 2009

Bat and wind turbine

Bats are a protected species in the European Union and recently concerns have arisen about the potential for bat populations to be affected or harmed by wind turbines. Research work has been carried out in the US identifying migrating bat collision however we have different (non migrating) bat species in Britain so their conclusions cannot be applied.

Read: Are Bats Killed by Wind Turbines?

Top Ten Wind Energy Myths

February 3, 2009

As with anything new, a small proportion of the population will be suspicious of emerging technology and wind turbines despite being green and clean do not escape this. Below are some of the common myths I often come across when hosting public exhibitions for new wind energy proposals and the facts in response..

Read: Top Ten Wind Energy Myths

Wind Energy Questions – Does Wind Turbine Infrasound Attract Aliens?

January 15, 2009

Last week the press went wild over a wind turbine suffering one lost blade and a second damaged blade. Was it a cow, was it a plane, was it a UFO? Maybe it was the eerie mangled looking photographs or maybe it was because wind turbines are also still seen by some members of the public as mysterious sci-fi structures and not to be trusted.

The Daily Mail even went as far as saying that the UFO beings were smart to damage the wind turbines because the devices interfere with the scenic beauty of the countryside.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – Does Wind Turbine Infrasound Attract Aliens?

Wind Energy Intermittency Effects on the UK Grid

January 12, 2009

Claims are sometimes made that wind turbines create electricity intermittently and because of this a) the grid cannot cope and b) back up power stations are needed resulting in no carbon dioxide savings.

Read: Wind Energy Intermittency Effects on the UK Grid

What is Amplitude Modulation of Noise from Wind Turbines?

January 2, 2009

Amplitude Modulation of aerodynamic noise is a term used to describe a noise phenomenon experienced at a few unusual wind energy projects in the UK. The term is often used to cause concern amongst residents close to a proposed wind farm in addition to terms such as low frequency noise and infrasound. It is sometimes described as a “thump” as the turbine blade passes the tower.

Read: What is Amplitude Modulation of Noise from Wind Turbines?

Wind Turbine Efficiency

December 30, 2008

According to David Rosser- director of CBI Wales the wind only blows strongly enough 10% of the time for a wind energy project to work. According to James May from Top Gear on his latest TV show, wind turbines only work 30% of the time . Why do people who are anti-wind energy keep using this against wind when they are so easily proven wrong? People with responsibility for disseminating information should check their facts.

To try and help stop the confusion, here are the facts:

Read: Wind Turbine Efficiency

Wind Energy Questions – What is Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise?

December 4, 2008

Noise and sound are acoustic waves carried on oscillating particles in the air. The frequency of sound (Hz) is defined by the number of oscillations per second and how we perceive noise is partly dependant on what the frequency is. High frequency noise has more oscillations per second whereas low frequency noise has fewer.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – What is Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise?

Wind Energy Questions – What is Wind Turbine Shadow Flicker?

November 30, 2008

Tall structures such as wind turbines cast shadows, which vary in length according to the sun’s altitude and position. Rotating wind turbine blades cast moving shadows which could under certain conditions cause flickering at nearby properties. This effect is similar to the flicker you may have experienced when driving, if the low winter sun is shining through trees and then your car window.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – What is Wind Turbine Shadow Flicker?

Is the Noise All in Your Head? – Wind Turbine Noise, Physcology and World Perspective

November 26, 2008

Whilst not in anyway qualified in acoustics, I surprised myself by becoming rather fascinated by the subject when I realized that although you can measure sound very objectively, the effect of this sound on humans varies extensively and is very much linked to psychology. People who are very opposed to wind energy projects and perceive them to be something bad or harmful react very differently to people supportive of wind energy if perceiving any source of noise from the wind turbines. An example of the plethora of reasons why this might result in some people have different experiences than others is “the cognitive itch” used to describe a re-occurring memory of something- like a catchy tune continually replaying in someone’s head.

Read: Is the Noise All in Your Head? – Wind Turbine Noise, Physcology and World Perspective

Wind Energy Questions – What is the impact of wind turbines on house prices?

November 16, 2008

We now know that climate change is happening and that the most likely cause is human activity. The predicted rises in global temperatures are likely to have devastating economic, social and environmental effects with the poorest people being the most likely to lose their homes. Despite this house price reduction is often cited as the main concern when renewable energy projects are proposed in the western world.

There has been a number of public opinion polls carried out in the UK and other countries with regard to renewable energy and specifically wind energy. These polls carried out at different stages of the wind farm life generally show support for wind energy. However because wind energy technology is relatively new, there has been very little work carried out in relation to effects on property prices.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – What is the impact of wind turbines on house prices?

Wind Energy Questions – How Noisy are Wind Turbines?

November 9, 2008

Whenever we talk about noise we often think of unwanted sound for example vehicles, factories, snorers and all those other anti-social forms that we have to share our world with. We rarely refer to the waves in the sea or a babbling brook as noise but as “natural sounds”.

Whether it is human made or naturally occurring, virtually everything that moves will result in some sound. Wind turning the blades of wind turbines results in sound just as the wind moving the leaves in trees. Modern wind turbines are however generally quiet in operation, and compared to the noise of road traffic, trains and aircraft, the noise from wind turbines is very low.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – How Noisy are Wind Turbines?

Wind Energy Questions – Renewable Obligation Certificates

November 1, 2008

The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the government’s main mechanism for supporting renewable energy.

Introduced in April 2002, it provides a substantial market incentive for all eligible forms of renewable energy. Renewable energy suppliers are required to supply a proportion of their electricity from renewable sources evidenced by the presentation of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCS) or pay a buy out fee. As a result of this requirement, the ROCS secured by renewable energy generators have a financial value and are bought and sold.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – Renewable Obligation Certificates

Wind Energy Questions – Health and Safety (& Base Jumping)

October 15, 2008

Whilst nothing can be defined as ultimately without effects, wind energy is an essentially benign technology. There are no harmful, emissions, pollutants or waste products in contrast to burning fossil fuels. Even jumping off a wind turbine seems to be without ill-effect (with a parachute that is) – see this YouTube video below to see […]

Read: Wind Energy Questions – Health and Safety (& Base Jumping)

Wind Energy Questions – Wind Turbines and Animals

October 15, 2008

This series of posts “wind energy questions” is aimed at dealing with questions, statements and rumours people come out with when talking about wind turbines. The first in this series is the effect of wind turbines on animals and below is an example of a statement made by a member of the public at a wind farm exhibition:

“The vibrations from wind turbines will scare the snakes out of the grass and into my house petrifying my wife”.

Read: Wind Energy Questions – Wind Turbines and Animals