Other Environmental Impacts

Unfurling The Waste Problem Caused By Wind Energy
NPR, All Things Considered
Christina Stella
There aren’t many options to recycle or trash turbine blades, and what options do exist are expensive, partly because the U.S. wind industry is so young. It’s a waste problem that runs counter to what the industry is held up to be: a perfect solution for environmentalists looking to combat climate change.

’52 communities are fighting against wind in Ireland’
Aisling Kiernan
Major concerns have been raised this week about natural habitats and the environment. Mounting evidence to suggest that wind energy “does not reduce” the use of fossil fuels or the levels of emissions.

(note: this is an older article but is extremely timely and so has been posted out of chronological order)
Federal Lands are being Ruined for Inefficient Solar Energy
New York Times
Janine Baleloch
Utility-scale solar and wind generating plants, most with footprints of several thousand acres, are transforming ecologically rich, multiple use lands to single-use industrial facilities, in effect privatizing vast areas of public land. Those lands cannot be returned to their previous state; conversion is total and permanent, even thpugh most projects will generate power for only 15 – 30 years.

No wind farm for DeWitt County: Board rejects $300 million plan
Herald & Review
Kevin Barlow
Board member Terry Ferguson said he had concerns about the issues with weather forecasting after hearing testimony from 31-year DeWitt County resident Don Waddell, who holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and is a member of the American Meteorological Society. Waddell said his research showed turbines could disrupt indicators of severe weather for Doppler radar based at the National Weather Service facility in Lincoln.

Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet
Micheal Shellenberger
Dealing with energy sources that are inherently unreliable, and require large amounts of land, comes at a high economic cost.

Why “Green” Energy Is Futile, In One Lesson
John Hinderacker
Yesterday central Minnesota experienced a natural gas “brownout,” as Xcel Energy advised customers to turn thermostats down to 60 degrees and avoid using hot water. Xcel put up some customers in hotels. Why? When the wind isn’t blowing–as it wasn’t yesterday–natural gas supplies the electricity. It also heats homes, and with bitter cold temperatures and no wind, there wasn’t enough natural gas to go around. The resulting “brownout” has been a political shock in Minnesota.

The Down Side to Wind Power
The Harvard Gazette
Leah Burrows
In two papers — published today in the journals Environmental Research Letters and Joule — Harvard University researchers find that the transition to wind or solar power in the U.S. would require five to 20 times more land than previously thought, and, if such large-scale wind farms were built, would warm average surface temperatures over the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius.

Large wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation
Science Daily
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial — or detrimental — to the regions in which they are situated.

Wind energy may be green, but the water in Chatham-Kent is brown
Mary Baxter
The vibrations — from pile driving, and later, from the turbines’ operation — create waves like the ripples that fan out in water when people throw rocks into a pond. When the waves from different turbines intersect, they can either cancel each other out, he says — or amplify the effect.
“If you have a well at that intersection where waves are really reinforcing each other,” it means the shale at the base of the well is being shaken as hard as it would be in an earthquake. That kicks up the particles, and you’re “going to see your water go a [dark] colour.”

Interspecific effects of forest fragmentation on bats
Canadian Journal of Zoology
J.L. Segers, H.G. Broders
Wind-farm development may be an important contributor to forest fragmentation, but how such developments impact bats is poorly understood.


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