Wind Turbine Blades: A Toxic Legacy For Centuries to Come – So Much for Saving the Planet …

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Wind Turbine Blades: A Toxic Legacy For Centuries to Come –
So Much for Saving the Planet ….
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Posted by:
Greg Lance – Watkins
Greg_L-W

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Wind Turbine Blades: A Toxic Legacy For Centuries to Come – So Much for Saving the Planet

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Nightmare Of Wind Turbine Blade Disposal: 2 New Papers Expose The Environmental Nightmare Of Wind Turbine Blade Disposal

No Tricks Zone
Kenneth Richard
22 June 2017

“If the industry cannot come up with more sustainable manufacturing and disposal processes, public acceptance of wind energy would decline if the public becomes aware of these issues” – Ramirez-Tejeda et al., 2017

Despite an explosion in installed wind capacity since 1990, wind power had achieved just 0.39% of the world’s total energy consumption as of 2013.

Germany has assumed a leading role in promoting the consumption of renewable energy.  And yet even in Germany the share of energy consumption from wind power reached only 2.1% in 2016.

Despite its extremely limited infiltration as a world energy source, it is assumed that a rapid expansion of wind power will ultimately be environmentally advantageous both due to its reputation as a “clean” energy and because of the potential to contribute to reduced CO2 emissions.

Recently, however, the austere environmental impacts and health risks associated with expanding wind energy have received more attention.

For example, scientists have asserted that wind turbines are now the leading cause of multiple mortality events in bats, with 3 to 5 million bats killed by wind turbines every year.   Migratory bats in North America may face the risk of extinction in the next few decades due to wind turbine-related fatalities.

Frick et al., 2017

“Large numbers of migratory bats are killed every year at wind energy facilities. … Using expert elicitation and population projection models, we show that mortality from wind turbines may drastically reduce population size and increase the risk of extinction. For example, the hoary bat population could decline by as much as 90% in the next 50 years if the initial population size is near 2.5 million bats and annual population growth rate is similar to rates estimated for other bat species (λ = 1.01). Our results suggest that wind energy development may pose a substantial threat to migratory bats in North America.”

Wind Turbine Blades Last 20 Years…And Then They Are Tossed Into Landfills

Besides reducing wildlife populations, perhaps one of the most underrated negative side effects of building wind turbines is that they don’t last very long (less than 20 years) before they need to be replaced. And their blades aren’t recyclable. Consequently, 43 million tonnes (47 million tons) of blade waste will be added to the world’s landfills within the next few decades.

Liu and Barlow, 2017

“The blades, one of the most important components in the wind turbines, made with composite, are currently regarded as unrecyclable. With the first wave of early commercial wind turbine installations now approaching their end of life, the problem of blade disposal is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future. … The research indicates that there will be 43 million tonnes of blade waste worldwide by 2050 with China possessing 40% of the waste, Europe 25%, the United States 16% and the rest of the world 19%.”

“Although wind energy is often claimed to provide clean renewable energy without any emissions during operation (U.S. Department of Energy, 2015), a detailed ecological study may indicate otherwise even for this stage. The manufacture stage is energy-intensive and is associated with a range of chemical usage (Song et al., 2009). Disposal at end-of-life must also be considered (Ortegon et al., 2012; Pickering, 2013; Job, 2014).A typical wind turbine (WT) has a foundation, a tower, a nacelle and three blades. The foundation is made from concrete; the tower is made from steel or concrete; the nacelle is made mainly from steel and copper; the blades are made from composite materials (Vestas, 2006; Tremeac and Meunier, 2009; Guezuraga et al., 2012). Considering these materials only, concrete and composites are the most environmentally problematic at end-of-life, since there are currently no established industrial recycling routes for them (Pimenta and Pinho, 2011; Job, 2013).”

In a new paper entitled  “Unsustainable Wind Turbine Blade Disposal Practices in the United States”, Ramirez-Tejeda et al. (2017) further detail the imminent and unresolved nightmare of wind turbine blade disposal. The environmental consequences and health risks are so adverse that the authors warn that if the public learns of this rapidly burgeoning problem, they may be less inclined to favor wind power expansion. Advocates of wind power are said to be “largely ignoring the issue”. It’s an “issue” that will not be going away any time soon.

In light of its minuscule share of worldwide consumption (despite explosive expansion in recent decades), perhaps it is time to at least reconsider both the benefits and the costs of wind energy expansion.

‘Adverse Environmental Consequences’ For A Rapidly Expanding Wind Power Grid

Ramirez-Tejeda et al. (2017)

“Globally, more than seventy thousand wind turbine blades were deployed in 2012 and there were 433 gigawatts (GW) of wind installed capacity worldwide at the end of 2015. Moreover, the United States’ installed wind power capacity will need to increase from 74 GW to 300 GW3 to achieve its 20% wind production goal by 2030. To meet the increasing demand, not only are more blades being manufactured, but also blades of up to 100 meters long are being designed and produced.”

“The wind turbine blades are designed to have a lifespan of about twenty years, after which they would have to be dismantled due to physical degradation or damage beyond repair. Furthermore, constant development of more efficient blades with higher power generation capacity is resulting in blade replacement well before the twenty-year life span.”

“Estimations have suggested that between 330,000 tons/year by 2028 and 418,000 tons/year by 2040 of composite material from blades will need to be disposed worldwide. That would be equivalent to the amount of plastics waste generated by four million people in the United States in 2013. This anticipated increase in blade manufacturing and disposal will likely lead to adverse environmental consequences, as well as potential occupational exposures, especially because available technologies and key economic constraints result in undesirable disposal methods as the only feasible options.”

Problems With Landfills

“Despite its negative consequences, landfilling has so far been the most commonly utilized wind turbine blade disposal method. … Landfilling is especially problematic because its high resistance to heat, sunlight, and moisture means that it will take hundreds of years to degrade in a landfill environment. The wood and other organic material present in the blades would also end up in landfills, potentially releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and other volatile organic compounds to the environment.”

“The estimated cost to put blade material in landfills, not including pretreatment and transportation costs, is approximately US $60 per ton. [A typical blade may weigh 30-40 tons]. In the United Kingdom, where landfilling organics is not yet prohibited, the active waste disposal cost (which includes plastics) is approximately US $130 per ton.”

Problems With Incineration

“Incineration of blades is another disposal method with potential for energy and/or material recovery. … Combustion of GFRP is especially problematic because it can produce toxic gases, smoke, and soot that can harm the environment and humans. Carbon monoxide and formaldehyde have been reported as residue from thermal degradation of epoxy resin. Another residue is carbon dioxide, which poses concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, about 60% of the scrap remains as pollutant ash after the incineration process, some of which is sent to landfills, potentially contaminating the sites. Possible emission of hazardous flue gasses is also among the issues with incinerating wind turbine blades.”

“One key issue is that all these thermal processing techniques for wind turbine blades would also require fragmentation of the material into smaller pieces through mechanical processing before being fed into the reactors, increasing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.”

Problems With Mechanical Processing

“Mechanical processing is a relatively simpler disposal method that consists of cutting, shredding, and grinding the material to separate the fibers from resins, so it can be repurposed. This process is energy intensive and produces small fiber particles with poor mechanical properties that can only be used as filler reinforcement material in the cement or asphalt industries. … The dust emitted in the grinding process of FRP creates occupational health and safety risks for workers. Inhalation, as well as skin and eye contact can produce moderate irritation to mucous membranes, skin, eyes, and coughing. Occupational exposure and prolonged inhalation of such particles have been found to produce alterations of the cellular and enzymatic components of the deep lung in humans, identified as acute alveolitis.”

Problems With Chemical Degradation

“The last method is chemical degradation, which consists of first mechanically reducing the size of the blades, then degrading them using a chemical solution. … Although no industrial-level chemical recycling of thermoset polymers has been done yet, some hazardous chemicals such as nitric acids and paraformaldehyde have been used in testing and development processes. Occupational exposure to these chemicals can produce harmful respiratory diseases including potential nasal cancer, and dermal health effects.”

Advocates Of Wind Power ‘Have Largely Ignored The Issue’

“Few individuals and organizations recognize the problems inherently related to blade recyclability. This situation creates an obstacle for promoting policy interventions to solve these problems. As a result, manufacturers, wind farm operators, and advocates have largely ignored the issue, focusing efforts on promoting wind energy and addressing other issues such as negative impacts on wildlife and noise generation.”

“If the industry cannot come up with more sustainable manufacturing and disposal processes, public acceptance of wind energy would decline if the public becomes aware of these issues, inhibiting its growth as one of the main sources of electricity generation in the United States.”

NoTricksZone

NoTricksZone flatters these things when it puts the lifespan of wind turbine blades at 20 years. The whole unit has an economic life of little more than a decade (see our post here).

Wind turbine blade failure is one of the more common features of these wondrously ‘reliable’ things: Wind Turbine Terror: Spanish Home Hit by Flying Blade – Just 1 of 3,800 Blade ‘Fails’ Every Year

And it’s not uncommon for turbine blades to fail within months of coming into operation.

At AGL’s Hallett 1 (Brown Hill) wind farm, south of Jamestown, South Australia the blades on each and every one of its 45 Suzlon S88s failed within their first year of operation, requiring their wholesale replacement.

The 2.1 MW, Indian built turbines commenced operation in April 2008. Not long into their operation, stress fractures began appearing in the 44m long blades. Suzlon (aka Senvion aka RePower) claimed that there was a “design fault” and was forced by AGL to replace the blades on all 45 turbines, under warranty.

The photos below show the stubs from those blades outside Suzlon’s Jamestown workshop. The main bodies of the blades were ground up and mixed with concrete used in the bases of other turbines erected later (the plastics in the blade are highly toxic, and contain Bisphenol A, which is so dangerous to health that the European Union and Canada have banned it):

stubs-1

stubs3

Turbine blade failures, including events where 10 tonne blades are thrown to the 4 winds (aka ‘component liberation’) are so common that we are able to finish this post with a graphic documentary, the captions are linked to the stories behind the pictures:

turbine-separation

Sigel Township, Michigan, February 2016.

turbine blade germany

Ostsee, Germany, December 2015.

BladeFailure_Spain

Pontecesco, Spain, January 2016.

blade fail

Fenner, New York, February 2016.

turbinedutchbladeaccident

Leystad, A6 Highway, Netherlands, May 2009.

turbine blade donegal

Donegal, Ireland, December 2013.

turbine001 kerry

Kerry, Ireland, January 2015.

bladethrow-shredding-ocotillo

Ocotillo, California, May 2013.

blade-whitelee_accident

Whitelee (near Glasgow), Scotland, March 2010.

And, we’ll finish with the video that strikes fear into the hearts of those unfortunate enough to live within 2 kms of these things:

Terrifying, dangerous and pointless!

And, it must be comforting to know that the liberated components depicted above (along with 3,800 odd blade fails every year) were quietly dumped in landfills to deliver their toxic cocktail into aquifers and water supplies for centuries to come.

Welcome to your wind powered future!

To view the original article CLICK HERE

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Regards,
Greg_L-W.

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Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins
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Wind Turbines & The Law Was Upheld In The High Court

Wind Turbines & The Law Was Upheld In The High Court

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Help To Arm People
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04-Jun-2016
The Pendulum Swings Against Wind Turbines
&
The Law Was Upheld In The High Court

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England not windy enough, admits wind industry chief

 

 Ovenden Moor wind farm, Ovenden Halifax West Yorkshire
There are more than 5,000 turbines onshore in the UK Credit: Alamy

England is not windy enough to justify building any more onshore wind turbines, the chief executive of wind industry trade body has admitted.

Hugh McNeal, who joined RenewableUK two months ago from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, insisted the industry could make the case for more onshore turbines in some parts of the UK, despite the withdrawal of subsidies.

But he said this would “almost certainly” not be in England, as the wind speeds were not high enough to make the projects economically viable without subsidy.

We are almost certainly not talking about the possibility of new plants in England. The project economics wouldn’t work; the wind speeds don’t allow for itHugh McNeal

Although the Government has implemented its manifesto pledge to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms, the industry believes it should be able to deploy more turbines onshore if it can show that this is the cheapest form of new power generation capacity.

Current wholesale electricity prices are too low to spur investment in any new form of power generation, so the Government has already had to make subsidies available to new gas plants.

If financial support required by onshore wind is less than that required by gas, the industry argues it should no longer be regarded as “subsidy”.

Hugh McNeal
Hugh McNeal, the new chief executive of RenewableUK Credit: Eddie Mulholland

“We are now the cheapest form of new generation in Britain,” Mr McNeal said. “If plants can be built in places where people don’t object to them and if, as a result of that, over their whole lifetime the net impact on consumers against the alternatives is beneficial, I need to persuade people we should be doing that.”

But new wind farms in England were “very unlikely”, beyond those that have already secured subsidies and are awaiting construction, as they would not be cost-efficient enough to undercut gas power, he said.

“We are almost certainly not talking about the possibility of new plants in England. The project economics wouldn’t work; the wind speeds don’t allow for it.”

The admission calls into question why developers are still seeking planning consent for hundreds of new turbines onshore in England.

Analysis of Government databases by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a group critical of subsidies, suggests there is till 425 megawatts of capacity in England in the planning system – although this is about a tenth of the amount seeking permission in Scotland.

Wind farm near Swindon
Wind speeds are generally lower in England than other parts of the UK Credit: Getty

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said he agreed with Mr McNeal that new onshore wind in England would be “incredibly challenging”.

However, he suggested the economics could potentially be better for projects that involved removing small old turbines and building bigger, more powerful replacements on the same site.

The idea of “subsidy free” financial support for onshore wind has proved highly controversial. Owen Paterson, the former environment secretary, described it as a “con” after ministers confirmed earlier this year that they were considering the idea.

John Constable, REF director, said claims that wind power was the cheapest failed to take into account the wider cost impacts on the system.

“There has to be grid expansion to remove bottlenecks, short term response plant and or demand to cope with errors in the wind forecast, and the cost of operating a conventional fleet of almost unchanged size to guarantee security of supply,” he said.

While ministers have not ruled out “subsidy free” financial support for onshore wind, there are understood to be no current plans to offer it.

Ministers have also said they want ensure technologies have to “face their full costs”. A study on the true costs of different technologies is awaiting publication by the DECC.

To view the original article CLICK HERE

Interestingly more or less the same article cropped up in the Business Section on Sunday:

WT SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 05-Jun-2016 - 01

Clearly when we overturned the FoDDC Planning Decision with the Judicial Review, as I had every confidence we would, it would be not just an act of folly for the Council to support an appeal but grossly negligent of public funds.

Further, in the light of the new facts pertaining to Wind Turbines and how grossly inefficient they are, and how damaging they are to both climate and ecology only a selfish self servingindividual would aply for planning for a turbine and surely Lyndon Edwards would not be so desperate for subsidy and so fundamentally dishonest as to make the same application again – unless he really is under the thumb and indebted to the co directors of Ressiliance!

Let us not forget that there was very little genuine support for this costly folly in the first place and we have shown conclusively that not only were the effected community determinedly against the damage but also the reason it was originally passed by FoDDC was that the application was handled by the elected councillors in a manner that was proven to be a corruption of planning law, against the advice of their trained and responsible council officers!

Though it would potentially be libelous to state that the planning committee was corrupt there is no doubt that the High Court decision proved that due process had been corrupted!

There is no doubt in my mind that the applicant Mrs Moira Edwards put herself in a position likely to lead people to believe that her actions were not in the interest of the community she was elected to represent but that she seemed to have stood for election knowing that she was planning to obtain permission to errect a publicly subsidised Wind Turbine, but failed to adequately notify the electorate of this facts and that the company she acted with timed their lengtjh and contentious application su7mmaries to arreve at the very last minute was deeply unpleasant and though I am sure it was within the law to act in sucha manner the ethics of such behaviour was, in my opinion, exceedingly distastefull.

At the end of the day the High Court in its deliberations saw through the pages and pages of unrelated submission and on the point of law Peter Wright’s Coincil led upheld the law, overturning the FoDDC’s flawed planning decision.

When the High Court written judgement is to hand in full it will be published on this web site and let us hope that is the end of this folly and any further efforts to damage this outstandingly beautifull and unique area based upon such devious ignorance, not to mention the failure of the Forest of Dean District Council to accurately represent their constituents and the interests of the area and its people in accord with planning law.

I would like to thank Tidenham Parish Council for their efforts to represent those who elected them and note the failure of Tidenham District Council’s Councillors who did little to uphold the interests of the community going so far, in one instance, to say they would not meet with constituents as he wouldn’t be able to see the Turbine from his home! The position of the MP was also one of largely fence sitting and who did little or nothing to uphold Government policy and the law, regardless of his position as a Government Whip!

My thanks to the serried ranks of those who stood behind us from the immediate area and further afield and those who so generously gave of their time to research, investigate, transcribe and attend the many meetings that were held, also those who contributed financially to assist in the payment of costs along the route to justice – and particularly to Peter and Sue Wright who had the courage of their convictions to take the downside risks of a Judicial Review – am relieved their efforts saw justice done and firmly and accurately done.

Thank You all.

Posted by: Greg Lance – Watkins (site owner)

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