Are wind farms an eyesore or do they blow you away?

by , Senior Home Researcher Energy & Home 17 April 2012
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Plans are afoot to build another wind farm on Thornton Moor – old home of the Brontë sisters. Opinion is divided: although some are in favour of wind farms, others think they will damage the landscape and impact on tourism.

wind turbines at sunset

Personally, I am all in favour of wind turbines as I think they are really important.

The UK has 40% of Europe’s entire wind resource and plenty of coastlines for offshore wind, so we should make the most of it.

It’s easy to be against wind farms unless you have considered all the alternative options.

We need new power

Yes, wind turbines are visible in our landscape and we need quite a few of them to produce the same amount of energy as a traditional power plant, but what if we don’t build any? We would have to keep relying on imported energy as well as building new power stations.

Of course, we can upgrade existing power plants but we are likely to need new ones too, and nuclear power plants are seen as a low carbon alternative. How would people react if the go-ahead was given for a nuclear power plant near their home?

With its great wind capacity, the UK already has 339 wind farms in operation, generating over 6,000 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power more than 3.6 million homes. And there are a further 50 wind farms under construction and 272 other projects that have been given the go-ahead.

Wind farms – an eyesore?

But some people don’t like wind farms. They object by saying that they’re an eyesore, can impact on tourism, are noisy and can kill birds. But for me, when I see a wind turbine, I don’t see ugliness – I think of clean technology, innovation, modernism and sustainability.

I also find wind farms reassuring, because I know this is electricity we are producing here in the UK, simply from the power of wind. The energy we produce doesn’t depend on anyone else, on importing any gas or coal and it should provide us with energy security and shield us from rising oil prices in the future.

And while it might cost us all a bit more on our energy bills now, I believe it’s important to take a long-sighted view and see the benefits for the future, especially if oil prices keep rising as they have in the last few years.

Do you think we should be planning more wind farms in the UK? Or should we look to other forms of energy to see us through to the future?

Do you like wind farms?

No - I think they're awful (48%, 487 Votes)

Yes - I think they're a great idea (40%, 399 Votes)

I kind of like them, but not in my back yard (9%, 90 Votes)

I'm not sure yet (3%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,009

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545 comments

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ArgonautoftheSeas

Wind farms are great but they can create residuary
unacceptable levels of noise as to constitute a legal
nuisance…. there was a case where a disgruntled
neighbour succeeded in obtaining a noise abatement
order of some kind or restricting its unfettered use.

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ArgonautoftheSeas

This was a case that actually occurred in the UK that was reported
some 2-3 years ago if I correctly recall…. repetitive whosh, whosh
,whosh, I can imagine and particularly when not at optimal setting OR
as to there being a malfunction of some kind.

Have never been to such a place myself to hear first-hand,
so what’s stated is hearsay (what else?).

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ArgonautoftheSeas

Can’t recall the detailed facts but it was injunctive relief
sought and being obtained in Court whether dispute was between
individual neighbours or as to individual and nearby wind farm…
cannot believe wind turbines even if singly are completely silent, noise
IS generated and the question is one of degree as to whether those
adversely affected – on a subjective basis – shd have to continue to
put up with it…. put in another way, has a tortious wrong been
committed (?) resulting in loss and damage, if so aggrieved party is legally
entitled to seek remedies which the Court is duty-bound seriously to consider
if not grant outright following trial of the issues.

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vcp2312

When considering the cost/benefit analysis I’ve discovered there is an important factor that is rarely considered. On a visit to Canada I asked why some of the wind-turbines weren’t working. On each occasion I was told that they ‘cost a lot to fix when they go wrong’ and the local government/land holder responsible felt unable to do so in the current financial climate (in some cases – years). I don’t actually mind them if they’re useful but they’re just an eyesore if they’re not!

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Dave D

Hmm.

I love them and I would be very happy to have huge wind farms within feet of my home.

Can someone help me to understand two of the arguments against them please? I genuinely don’t get these two:

1) noise: I have made a point of visiting a great many wind farms because I like them. I’ve photographed and video’d several. In every case – regardless of the weather (and I’ve been at some such as Royd Moor in South Yorkshire in terribly stormy conditions and some, such as the latest one in Doncaster (opened Jan 2012) on days so still that I was amazed to see the blades were turning) – I have been unable to hear even the slightest noise from the turbines at all, save for a very occasional “clang” at Royd Moor (not noticed this at any others) when the Nacelle turns slightly as the wind direction changes. I really cannot grasp where the issue of noise comes from? What noise is there? Are there some farms / turbines using a different technology that makes a noise?

2) harm to Birds: I’m a member of the RSPB and I know that the RSPB are anti-wind farm because they claim that they harm birds. How? I don’t understand this one either. When I’ve visited wind farms I have never seen injured or dead birds around the turbines. I never see birds fly into the sails. Sometimes I see birds perch on top of the Nacelle, but that’s it. The RSPB don’t seem to me (as a member) to have made it either clear or easy to find out what exactly this danger is.

The only other point I’d make is that it is often claimed that Wind Turbines cannot operate in high winds as it is unsafe. Readers may recall that in the severe storms in Scotland late last year there was TV footage of a wind turbine (offshore) on fire in the storms. I heard a report on the TV news, which was repeated several times that week, in which a National Grid spokesperson stated that the reason turbines had to be stopped in very high winds was because the National Grid cabling could not cope with the amount of power generated at high wind speeds. I’ve not heard this story again since those storms but it seemed to me to be absolutely shameful, if true, that under-investment in the Grid meant that free electricity from the wind could not be used.

Sorry to all those who think the turbines are ugly: I don’t really agree – they are less ugly than coal, oil, gas or nuclear power stations (and also far smaller) and they can be erected much faster and more cheaply than power stations too.

I’m all for them and think it’s wicked that we have not invested much more in wind (and wave) power decades ago.

I would love to hear more about the noise and especially the bird issues though.

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Nick

HI Dave D,
In response to your point “2) harm to Birds: I’m a member of the RSPB and I know that the RSPB are anti-wind farm because they claim that they harm birds. How? I don’t understand this one either. When I’ve visited wind farms I have never seen injured or dead birds around the turbines. I never see birds fly into the sails. Sometimes I see birds perch on top of the Nacelle, but that’s it. The RSPB don’t seem to me (as a member) to have made it either clear or easy to find out what exactly this danger is.”
I disagree, the RSPB are very responsible and on their website http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/policy/windfarms/index.aspx they suggest they only oject to 6% of all wind farms. As far as I can work out they beleive that climate change is a bigger threat to bird death than wind turbines and are pro on the condition that they are suitably located.
Either way a recent report came out and is shown on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17694256 )stating “many bird species are unaffected by wind farms, concludes a study carried out by UK bird charities.”

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John Ward

I fully agree with everything you’ve said here Dave. As soon as somebody proposes to put up a turbine around here the uproar is deafening and it goes on and on. Our forebears littered this glorious countryside with windmills with whooshing sails, clattering machinery, and happy millers whistling as they sewed their sacks up. Nowadays we can’t even have a tranquil turbine. Each village probably only needs one or two to become virtually self-sufficient. To my mind they look a lot nicer than rooftops covered in those boring static PV panels.

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No2Wind

Try reading up about RSPB and RSPB Energy. Also expand your mind and look at Iberica 2000 by Michel Duchamps for bird mortalities. [especially raptors] The photographs are quite gruesome with eagles being regularly decapitated. We have such birds of prey in Scotland and the islands.
Altamont in California.
Wind Turbine Syndrome.

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M.

From a cheap sustainable source of energy, windmills / farms have now been demonised.
We are told [amongst other things] they are:
Dangerous
Harmful to wildlife.
More expensive than ‘traditional energy production’.
Atheisticly unsound. [come on they are prettier than power stations].

It seems as if some vested interests have started a vicious whispering campaign against this form of energy production, I wonder who would possibly gain from this?
It seems the windmills of yore dotted throughout Holland were pretty enough, but when they start challenging the energy producers they turn into monsters.

One question, which would you prefer, a wind farm or nuclear power station, I know which one I would rather live next to if it went wrong!

I just want to be able to put a small one in my garden, to save on some of the ridiculous electricity bills suddenly, that is not allowed….why?

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clint kirk

I assume you meant “Aesthetically” rather than “Atheisticly” – but what a wonderful spelling mistake, I’m left trying to imagine a windfarm that only religious people think would work well.

As for whether a windfarm would be preferable to a power station, remember that you would need an absolutely huge windfarm spanning an enormous area of countryside to produce the same power as a small nuclear station.

As for having a small one in your garden, I think you’ll find the power it produced wouldn’t be enough to make much of a difference to your electricity bills.

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wavechange

I have not got a strong opinion about wind turbines yet, but I share Dave’s concern about them being shut down in high winds. I cannot understand the excuses given, though I would accept that they might be damaged if allowed to run at high speeds.

I certainly prefer wind turbines to pylons marching across the landscape.

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David Ramsay

so how do you think the power will be transferred? Via magic?

Pylons will be required unless we want the cost of underground cabling to get the power produced onto the grid.

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wavechange

I am simply comparing the appearance of wind turbines – which are simple and rather elegant – with pylons. Of course pylons are needed for efficient distribution of electricity.

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Lin

If wind turbines continue to litter our landscape will will see MORE pylons as they are needed to connect turbines to the grid.

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FINSBURYPARKER

I cannot understand the excuses given, though I would accept that they might be damaged if allowed to run at high speeds.
_________________________________________________________________________

The amount of heat generated in their gearboxes would and has caused the lubrication oil to overheat and ignite!
This should not happen as the Turbine blades have a device that causes them to ‘Feather’ their blades, exactly like an Aeroplane Engine Propeller when an engine fails, it reduces drag.
Sometimes this fail safe device fails to operate with the result that the gearbox oil overheats and ignites!
Now you can understand the ‘Excuses Given’?

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wavechange

I do not claim to know anything about these turbines but it may not be an insurmountable problem to correct this problem. Mechanical devices are never going to be totally reliable but we have achieved a great deal in my lifetime.

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Em

Any nimby that thinks the prospect of a power station in someone else’s back garden is better than a wind turbine in theirs, had better get used to the idea of living without electricity altogether! Just how selfish can you get???

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Nick

According to the EU we have renewable targets to meet, these have been set to ensure that we tackle climate change. In 2001 a target of 10% of all energy should come from renewable, we should have met this by 2010 – did we? No according to UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) we did 6.8%. In 2009 once again the EU set us another target 15% of all energy produced should be renewable by 2020, are we meeting this target? DUKES states that progress is being made.
We can conclude from this that we need renewable energy sources. The question is which one, Solar, Wind, Hydro, Wave and Tidal.
Well if you start to look into each of these options it soon become obvious about where to go.
Solar, everyone barks on about how inefficient wind is quoting 30% (ignoring the fact that this is capacity factor which only makes up part of the efficiency) solar only has a 17% capacity factor. However with the government grants it has provided around about 76MW in 2010.
Wind onshore – is one of the most mature technologies we have, and we also have a very good wind resource, it produced 4GW in 2010.
Wind offshore – is building up and is expected to be the the major player in energy contribution, in 2010 it produced 1341MW.
Large hydro schemes over 5MW produced 1,453 MW in 2010. We are unlikely to see anything of this sort being built from now on because people complain when their land gets flooded.
Finally Wave and Tidal – to date according to DUKES has not produced enough energy for them to be able to supply data.
Are the government trying to encourage alternative to wind? Yes. In April 2001 Renewable Obligation Certificates where created as an incentive, originally 1ROCs was given out for each MW produced and it didn’t matter from which technology. Now however whilst wind remains at 1ROC wave and tidal has gone upto 2 per MW and offshore wind is at 1.5 per MW (although I believe this may soon be changing).
So even without the additional incentives of other technology onshore wind continues to be the major supply of renewable energy in this country. This tells me it is the only commercially viable option we have left.
Oh and by the way we can’t sit it out and wait for other technologies to come along and improve, climate change is real and we need to something about it now, not tomorrow.
Either cut down your energy use or accept that for a while you will have onshore wind as the major player for renewable energy.

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wavechange

Some will say we should ignore the the problems of increasing power requirements and climate change because it could affect their ‘personal freedom’. Just this morning, the BBC has a report that road pollution is more than twice as deadly as traffic accidents. Even if predictions and statistics are over-the-top we really need to think about the environment and forget this personal freedom nonsense. Personal freedom has its place, but some issues are too important to be left to individuals who may put their own self-interest ahead of the common good.

As Nick says, we should be reviewing what alternative energy sources can realistically offer. They are not as useful as some claim and a lot has already been spent on development.

If the UK population was 30 million, that would overcome many of our current environmental problems but very few people seem interested in doing anything to arrest population growth, never mind tackle over-population.

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M.

Serious food for thought here Nick,
Its just that ‘according to the EU’ bit that raises my Hackles.

I think that on our tiny Island, we should by now have accepted wind power as the safe viable alternative to fossil / nuclear electric generation, I cannot understand the anti windmill campaign at all as most of the arguments against them just do not make sense.

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Dean

Something that has to be shut down in high winds and when there’s no wind, is not a solution. They are far too expensive

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M.

Please explain what you are comparing them to that makes them too expensive, I have heard this argument many times, but have yet to see any comparative costings, say over a 20 yr period against our traditional electricity production.

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Dean

Why? It wouldn’t prove or discredit my point, which is by the way “compared to NOT having them”

Basically the energy they generate is negated by the setup costs and costs when they are NOT generating energy. Do you understand now?

Water power would be a much better use of our money than paradoxical wind farms. How many rivers are there in this country for example? Water keeps flowing almost all the time, why not use that resource? Tides?

Just saying that they are better than digging old trees out of the ground and burning it is frankly really simplistic. For a renewable to be a viable option, it has to be efficient, it has to be cost-effective, not just “better than burning coal, oil or gas”

We need proper research into this, properly funded, but I guess it depends on who is attending David Cameron’s dinner parties at present doesn’t it?

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M.

@Dean,
WHY: because if you quote something as being too expensive, you need a comparison [more expensive than what alternative] or else this invalidates the argument.
I thought you had access to comparative costings against other forms of electricity production.
Of course doing nothing means spending nothing means no outlay, but we will have to pay for that tomorrow.

You have said:
Basically the energy they generate is negated by the setup costs and costs when they are NOT generating energy. Do you understand now?
Obviously the answer is no, because you have given me no facts or figures, just stated your opinion, as without the relevant data it’s all any of us can do..

One reason I am dubious about the costings argument is that after initial set up costs the energy source we would be using is free, whereas for all other traditional production methods we have to keep paying for oil, gas, shale etc… Maintenance would also be minimal as frictionless bearings and magnetic drives mean no wear & tear.
The high wind issues are due to the present grid being unable to handle the capacity and can be solved by gearing and cut off switches, the few days we have which are dead [no wind at all] are offset by storing excess energy during times of overproduction.
These are possible technical solutions to some of the issues you raise but I would like to be able to understand the costing argument, unless someone out there has something to work with all we are going to do is make uninformed judgements.

Other methods, Hydro, [we have a nationwide canal network as well as many rivers] tidal, more effective solar have to be investigated too. If we could find a way to store the energy produced by lightning that would solve a lot of problems as well.

Your comment on who dines with Cameron is right on the button, as the big chiefs of the fossil fuel & power generation industries are not interested in alternative clean cheap renewable energy sources as there is no profits in them, I believe this is one of the reasons for the anti windmill campaign.

So let them tell us exactly why they believe this form of electricity generation is too expensive, then we can all look at the figures and have a proper informed debate.

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John Ward

I don’t care if it is more expensive. If it’s the right answer we should go for it.

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Dean

But it’s NOT the right answer if it’s NOT efficient!!!

The reason that it is going ahead is because the Crown Estate owns ALL of the seabed. Basically, every windfarm will be owned by the Crown Estate. ie the Queen and her city financiers led by the Rothschild family and everyone “generating” power from it will have to rent it from the Crown. Then they will have to rent the cable to the mainland.

M. If you truly believe the point about Cameron then why can’t you see my point?

Windfarms are expensive, inefficient and a pointless blot on the landscape. I’m sure you’re able to use google if you want to find “figures” to bore everyone to death with ;-)

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No2Wind

@ “M.”. Dean is absolutely correct.
If you investigate properly you will find that a Unit [1 kW-hr] of electrical energy from an onshore wind farm costs roughly 2.3 times a fossil fuel or nuclear generated Unit [kW-hr]. {A Unit from an Offshore wind farm costs roughly 4 times} How you ask? Well factor in the Climate Change Levy charge and factor in the Renewables Obligation Certificate cost to us. All information available on the Internet.
BUT, significantly the ratios which I have put in front of you do not include the increased fossil fuel cost ENFORCED by the necessity of running a wasteful fossil fuel backup generation cost.
Simply put, unless you live in a remote location or are prepared to stand the cost financially for backup generation (Increased taxes) combined with renewable energy subsidies on your electricity bill, renewables are a “busted flush” and reducing the UK to penury.
And “M.”, why not diligently RESEARCH the relevant figures data to which you think Dean alone is party? He has had to do that and a comment thread is not the ideal forum onto which to download pages of Internet “Google” sourced references. You can see why from my responses. It is not a simple problem.
Your argument about, once set up, wind and solar benefitting from free fuels is total nonsense.
We do not have sufficient VERY EXPENSIVE hydro to store Mains electrical energy and the hydro we have is all used up in about 6 hours before the head reservoirs have to be recharged; don’t you think we would have done it by now if it was possible?
The electrical energy stored in lightning is less than a speck in the ocean. And it is electrostatic charge. [Very high voltage but virtually un-measureable static charge migration].
Before you talk about “frictionless” bearings, I would suggest you invent one.
The shutting down in high winds has absolutely nothing to do with the National Grid being able or unable to handle the generation power. It is concerned with the mechanical and structural limitations of structures. (I wrote earlier about the “sail” effect).
There are many of us out here who have been familiar with the figures for 40-50 years but the “green” fanatics and political caste, notwithstanding evidences given to House of Lords and House of Commons Select Committees have chosen, in their highly suspect self-righteous wisdoms, to ignore this country’s power scientists, engineers and technologists.
Mark my words, not long now before it all falls apart on the energy policy front especially when you have to live with unscripted rolling black-outs and brown-outs and emergency equipment is corrupted.

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Phil

“With its great wind capacity, the UK already has 339 wind farms in operation, generating over 6,000 megawatts of electricity.”

No, that’s their maximum capacity. What they could theoretically produce if the conditions were simultaneously perfect for each and every wind farm. This doesn’t happen very often; if at all. In reality they only produce a fraction of that and are non-productive most of the time. Wind farms are a supplement to conventional means of generation not a replacement due to the unpredictability of wind.

As for cost per MW of installed capacity an offshore windfarm is nearly twice the price of a nuclear power station and still requires a massive subsidy.

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Nick

Subsidy’s are not an argument.
Wind as previously discussed get subsidies, as does every other renewable energy solution.
But heres one you may not have heard of, so do fossil fuels.
These fossil fuel power stations have been around for a long time, yet still they cannot afford to work with subsidies.
Take for example Nuclear.
For a long time the British Government has kept the Nuclear industries liabilities cost down. However the Government has just raised there liability to just over £1billion should they have an incident.

DECC spends £6.93 billion a year, 86% of its budget, on managing nuclear waste and other liabilities from Britain’s current nuclear power programme, over eight times more than it spends on securing our future energy and climate security
Nuclear power requires without huge security and counter-terrorism costs. Most of this is paid for by the taxpayer, but official secrecy prevents us from knowing how much.

The above is taken from a briefing note issued this year (2012) to the Government

http://www.jonathonporritt.com/sites/default/files/users/BRIEFING%201%20subsidising_nuclear_26March%202012.pdf

Beyond Nuclear, Gas, oil and coal prices were subsidised by £3.63bn in 2010, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , whereas offshore and onshore wind received £0.7bn in the year from April 2010. All renewables in the UK benefited from £1.4bn over the same period, according to data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/27/wind-power-subsidy-fossil-fuels

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Phil

Subsidy is an argument for anyone who thinks wind power is cheap and taking into consideration how much each source contributes. Coal, oil and gas receive a greater overall subsidy simply because they generate the lion’s share of our needs, 310 TWh/year compared to 16 TWh/year for renewables. Using the Guardian’s figues that gives an overall £11.7 million per TWh/year for fossil fuels compared to £87.5 million per TWh/year for renewables. Put simply renewables are getting nearly 7.5 times the subsidy of fossil fuels per unit generated.

It’s not a matter of spending on renewables or conventional/nuclear, supply from renewables is not dependable, wind turbines are generally available for only 20-40% of the time (compared to 70-90% for fossil fuel or nuclear) so we’ll never get away from needing both. Question is; can we afford both?

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M.

@Phil
Can I have the source for the 20% – 40% up time please, i would like to do some research into this.

The whole subsidy of power generation reeks of corruption and bungs, I wonder what the real cost would be without all the add ons pays offs and false accounting?

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Phil

The figures came from more than one source, try an internet search for “electricity generation availability factor” or “electricity generation capacity factor”.

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M.

@Phil.
Thanks I will have a dig around, it just that there is so much ‘info’ around about this subject, but actually getting accurate data is proving quite difficult.

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Nick

Hi M.
From what I understand and from hearsay, I can say this about efficiency on wind turbines;
A wind turbine will turn and generate for about 80% of the time
A wind turbine will be able to convert only 60% of the wind which passes through its rotors into electricity, this is known as the Betz limit.
A wind turbine has a capacity factor of about 30%, this means that although it may say it can generate X amount of Mega Watts, on average it will only produce about 30% of this (however it doesn’t mean it can’t generate more than this, this is to do with the available wind resource).

I hope this helps.

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No2Wind

Hello, Nick.
DECC DUKES2011 publication, Page 218, Table 7.4, shows the Load Factors [Americanised as "Capacity Factor"!] for wind generation across the UK as
Onshore , Offshore
2006 27.2% 28.7%
2007 27.5 25.8
2008 27.0 30.4
2009 27.4 26.0
2010 21.7 30.5
giving 5-year averages for Onshore – 26.2% and Offshore – 28.3%.
However, the averages in many respects are completely misleading because they do not identify when the daily [if ever daily] generation takes place and whether it fits neatly into the rhythms of our modern lives.
If more WTs are landed, I fully expect the annual averaged load factors to drop even more as “best wind” locations are used up.
This, of course, is not the case with nuclear or fossil fuel generating stations.

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Nick

Hi No2Wind,
Thanks for the stats, yes I remember now I have seen this document, I think I also recall they say that 2010 was an appalling year for wind, I guess this is something to do with climate change but only time will tell.
I find your prediction of load factors reducing due to all the good sites being used up interesting. Having compared the Noabl dataset with the DECC dataset of operational wind turbines, it seems to suggest that we still have ample places to put wind turbines with a good wind resource. I consider a good wind resource about 6.5ms at 45m AGL (mainly becuase I believe most developers also consider this). However you may be right that as these locations are used up it will be more financially viable to use lower wind speed sites (or maybe we’ll import electricity from other countries first before we develop the lower wind speed sites).
The above is a similar situation as to the coal fields in the UK being closed down imported coal being cheaper and now some of these coal fields are being re-opended beucase it is now financially viable to dig it out.
Surely there has to be suitable locations for new nuclear and fossil fuel stations as well. Grid, transport distances of the fuel, and therefore they also have limited space, otherwise why build nuclear in the same place this time around. I know for fact that nuclear has to be placed near large water bodies for the cooling process.
Gas turbines, and large hydro systems are the only systems which fit nicely into out modern lives as they can be turned on and off at the switch of a button. Nuclear can’t do this it is considered a base load for the UK as I understand it. Wind has the ability to be switched off, but not re-started so it is half-way there. (Please don’t give the argument about costs of switching off wind, the National Grid creates prediction tables, operators say they will supply X amount, if the fail to supply they get fined, if the NG get their predictions wrong they pay up, this happens for all power generation, it just so happens wind is easy to turn off).

Maybe we are wrong and should be adapting our modern life to fit with the current times (going to bed when it gets dark and getting up with the sunrise) rather than trying to fit the world to us?

Final word. M. do you drive a car? are you aware that this only has a thermal efficiency of 30%, do you complain to the car manufactures about this poor efficiency?

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No2Wind

Hello again, Nick.
This is what UCTE (Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity in Europe had to say in its report after the investigation into why 15,000,000 Europeans were subjected to some 3 hours of total black-out in November 2006.
“In both under-frequency areas (West and South East), sufficient generation reserves allowed restoring the normal frequency in a relatively short time. In the over-frequency area (North East), the lack of control over generation units (quick reduction of schedules and automatic reconnection of wind generation) contributed to deterioration of system condition in this area (long lasting over-frequency with severe transmission lines overloading). Generally, the uncontrolled behavior of generation (mainly wind farms and combined-heat-and-power) during the disturbance complicated the process of reestablishing normal system conditions.”
In real terms, the Grid monitors mains frequency and, if the demanded load is too large for the available generation on-line, the frequency decreases and if the demanded load is smaller than the available generation on-line, the mains frequency increases.
Interestingly the Germans are now replacing nuclear power with 17 new brown coal (lignite) plants and not wind generation. Perhaps the point has been proven.
Time and experience will tell regarding wind power station performance but so long as we keep wind generation we are tied to imported volatile non-guaranteed supplies of gas.
Large hydro systems in the UK can only be switched onto the Grid for something like 4-6 hours in total before the Upper Reservoirs have to be re-charged with the water. Additionally, the water and submerged wood debris etc. residues undergo anaerobic decomposition to produce methane (or should that be aerobic decomposition?).
There is no need to source more locations for either nuclear or fossil fuelled generation – we just re-furbish or re-build on original sites with the correct capacities.
The financial cut-and-thrust of privatised power generation is something we must get away from as it is the customer who pays in the end as these companies recoup the fines from the only source available.
I agree with your point that it might benefit society if we went to bed when the sun went down and got up when it rises. But we are faced with a society which is taught to want what it can’t have or, if it can have it, it is immediate – nothing to look forward to. ‘Anticipation is better than realisation’.

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richard

No – All power generation plants quote maximum generation capacity as if all generators within the operation are in use – so wind farms should be considered just the same – and they are .

Wind farms are one of the renewable sources of energy – and is better than solar in the UK until solar becomes far more efficient – The hydro generators are far better – but have a greater permanent effect on the environment and far more expensive to build., Which is why hydro is not being built at the rate needed.

Frankly anyone who thought that wind-farms would create constant energy needs a refresher course in science and weather . They were always designed to supply intermittent energy. The greater the instantaneous energy they supply – the less energy that needs to be supplied by conventional (and wasteful) fossil sources through the national grid, All power stations generate the amount of energy actually required at the time by consumers – so are on and off all the time (nuclear is considered a base supply because they are so much more costly and wasteful to control) – . That is why wind farms were built – they are far better for the environment..

Wind is FREE – Water is FREE – Nuclear – oil – gas cost a fortune to produce and generate CO2 and particulate pollution (radio-active nuclear waste for 100s (1000s) of years) Oil and gas SHOULD be used to make plastics we need for production. Electricity (through batteries) from solar water and wind should be used to drive our cars, Not wasteful fossil fuels It is the main reason fuel prices have risen.

Nuclear generated waste pollute for generations – Wind Solar and Hydro do not pollute at all.- except a little noise.

The RSPB recently reduced their objections to wind farms as their observational research indicates that only one species of bird is adversely affected by proximity of wind farms – and no species is killed by the blades. I used to work for the CEGB.

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Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson
Wind is not free. We are all paying around £7.2 bi/llion per annum in subsidies to the wind energy companies. This is paid as an addition to your electricity bill As a result, electricity produced by wind power costs more per unit than any other means of producing electricity. Wind is not economicalt as a back up power is required in the event the wind stops blowing or is blowing too hard. This is usually gas as it is the only form of energy that can be ramped up and down quickly enough to match the variations of the wind, and gas is expensive.

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No2Wind

No, wind is NOT free. Who do you think has to pay for the enforced 24-365 fossil fuel backup?
You do, like the rest of us and that is on top of the subsidies exacted on your electricity bill to pay for renewables.

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dubious

OK, so wind farms contribute energy which we need, but not without environmental damage. I see them as a blot on landscape views in many areas. Also, what are their construction costs & the environmental damage caused by such constructions, let alone servicing/breakdown costs particularly of those at sea?
However, what annoys me, is that little progress appears to being made on Solar Farms as a less visually environmentally damaging alternative, being only a few feet above ground level, which must also be useful when maintenance/repairs are required. Also, with their improving technology, costs are likely to fall and efficiency increase.

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richard

All generation systems will cause some environmental damage – whether wind solar hydro nuclear gas or oil – but the wind solar and hydro use FREE sustainable energy. Nuclear Oil and gas are wasteful in their use of fossil fuels and are unsustainable. Personally I like the look of wind-farms – remind me of the old windmills – they weren’t silent either. .

The problem with solar is the vast amount of land needed to absorb sufficient sunlight in the UK to generate the amounts of energy needed – Israel has a better sunshine rate – That land underneath will not produce food very well – as food needs sunlight as well.. Have you seen what a 200 acre solar farm looks like – their impact can be very intrusive.? The wind farm has a much smaller footprint. The big advantage with solar is the ability to build small generators on suitable roofs of private houses. But that will not be cheap and could be opposed by energy companies.

The only environmentally sustainable and minimal impact device (when running) generation I know of – is the twin underground lakes – at two different levels – the higher lake generates electricity at peak rate – through dynamo/motor devices powered by the water drained into the lower lake which stores it – Then when the demand is off peak – the dynamo/motors are reversed to pumps to pump the water back up to the high lake – The cost is enormous – but – after building they are not seen and use FREE sustainable energy. – maintenance of the motors can be managed underground. In an emergency the water can even alleviate temporary water shortages

Frankly ALL hydro solar and wind technologies costs are likely to fall and efficiency increase as more are built..

That is true of Nuclear Oil and Gas too – but – they are NOT sustainable – and are peaking in their efficiency and development..

Surely the problem is not the cost of building – or maintenance of the sustainable generation – but the alternative is unthinkable – ever reducing supplies – ever rising prices – ever more unsustainable pollution.

I remember when petrol was 1/11d a GALLON or under 10p – Now car drivers are very likely to spend more on fuel than food (recent AA report)..

Bio-fuels are a dead end in my opinion – because as population increases – food requirements increase – space to grow the bio-fuels decreases without massive de-forestation. The use of algae as an alternative secondary source will severely pollute oceans and destroy wild-life habitat far more than wind-farms.. .

Today, a survey came out revealing that more than two-third of people support the use of wind power in the UK and a majority also accept the look of wind farms.

This came from an Ipsos MORI study for the industry body RenewableUK.

Only 6% of the people surveyed thought wind farms looked completely unacceptable.

Is it therefore a myth that a majority of people are against wind farms? Or are they simply more vocal about their views?

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No2Wind

“Sylvia Baron”. I would suggest that you read around the subject a bit more. A secure, controllable energy policy is NOT about “consensus” or layman’s “opinion”.
In fact, that has been the trouble all along. Such policies are about technology and science.
If 1 air-unit of electricity can be recovered from 1 kilogramme of moving air, 1,000 such units are recoverable from 1 kg of moving water. But now the story begins. 1 kg of wood allows some 30,000,000 recoverable air-units. 1 kg of coal and gas allows 100,000,000 recoverable air-units and 1 kg of nuclear fuel allows 100,000,000,000,000 air-units of recoverable electrical energy. Check this with any physicists you know.
Now you know the secret as to why insecure, uncontrollable wind was abandoned as soon as secure, controllable coal and steam [Industrial Revolution] came on stream.
Renewables power generation is a sophist’s dream and mirage.
A secure, demandable, controllable modern energy policy can only be met by generation sources which are NOT stochastic, NOT intermittent and NOT erratic in performance. Wind and solar especially fail on all counts but coal, shale gas and nuclear thorium fully meet all requirements of an energy generation portfolio fit for this modern society.

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Dave D

@Sylvia Barron – I think the answer to your question is given in “no2Wind”s response: the anti renewables lobby are generally ill informed, arrogant and have too much money, therefore usually living in picturesque areas where the locals, born and bred there, can no longer afford to live.

As such these “incomers” generally rant about their pet hates and dislikes loudly and publicly.

Virtually all the “anti” comments on this board have the unpleasant odour of that kind of person about them, but scant little fact and as far as I can see zero referencing to allow anyone to check the postulated “facts”.

The MORI poll is very good news. Thanks for posting it.

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No2Wind

Sylvia, just a quick snapshot to “Dave D” on this as he has posted again. The MORI Poll was done by/through/for the wind trade body RenewablesUK [ex-BWEA].
When polls, initially in favour of wind turbines, are opened to the general public they do what the one under your article has started to do – reverse. This has been happening ever since 19 April when NOW was introduced at Westminster.
I’ve already told you about the dirty tricks BWEA were prepared to drop to and I still have a screen-shot of the BWEA website page downloaded from the ABD website [Association of British Drivers].
So here is a challenge for “Dave D” if he is man enough.
Take up all my points I have made and, using your own reference documentation to show how well-versed you are on this subject, demonstrate I am incorrect in stating what I believe are facts. Otherwise stop pfaffing around like some pseudo-intellectual who is playing for time because he has no answers. Conversations are about exchange of factual information. So let’s have some.
“Dave D” I have the references on my computer and have given you sufficient to go on with for noise. So your initial question about noise, which you complain has had no response, was answered 22 April @10.39pm by my giving a list of references for “John Ward” to check on the Internet. Perhaps you missed this. It begins ‘Amanda Harry’, ‘Barbara Frey’, ‘Dr. Chris Hanning’……

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Dave

Only just caught up with No2Wind’s comments above (“So here is a challenge for “Dave D” if he is man enough.
Take up all my points I have made and, using your own reference documentation to show how well-versed you are on this subject, demonstrate I am incorrect in stating what I believe are facts. Otherwise stop pfaffing around like some pseudo-intellectual who is playing for time because he has no answers. Conversations are about exchange of factual information. So let’s have some.
“Dave D” I have the references on my computer and have given you sufficient to go on with for noise. So your initial question about noise, which you complain has had no response, was answered 22 April @10.39pm by my giving a list of references for “John Ward” to check on the Internet. Perhaps you missed this. It begins ‘Amanda Harry’, ‘Barbara Frey’, ‘Dr. Chris Hanning’……”).

In response, hopefully much more politely than N2W’s ‘challenge’ can I point out the following:

1) N2W and others have posted references to various sources of info about noise, which are interesting but do not answer my original question at all: I pointed out that I have visited wind farms, standing as close as arm’s length to the turbine columns, in both good (calm) and bad (very windy) conditions and I have been unable to hear any noise. I therefore asked if there is more than one type of turbine technology in use and if so, do some create noise and others (the one’s I’ve been to) stay all-but silent?

2) N2W asks about my own documentation, etc., but this is not relevant as my own comments have been exclusively limited to first hand observations made when visiting turbine sites.

(Out of interest, though, I would point out that I do have post-graduate qualifications including sustainable building development, so N2W’s rather rude reference to “Pseudo intellectual” is rather unfortunate)

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No2Wind

Sylvia, sorry to use your comment to reply to “Dave”.
@”Dave”. All the references I gave to John Ward answer your question explicitly if you find the time to source and read them.
It means accepting that what these medical experts have written in the reports, especially when the information is contained in one or more reports or is peer-reviewed, is substantially the result of “post-graduate” research made whilst running their own doctoring careers. Several have picked up on the research because of patients consulting them with puzzling, unexplained, serious mental and physical health conditions. This knowledge is known about and being collated by reports from around the world.
An additional reference is “ETSU-R-97:Why it is wrong” by Dick Bowdler, 2005. Or you might try: “Location, Location, Location” by the UK Noise Association, July 2006. You may also feel inclined to visit the REF website to view a copy of the Press Release of 06 February 2009 entitled “Wind Turbine Noise Complaint Survey Data Collected by the University of Salford under contract to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: Research into aerodynamic modulation of wind turbine noise URN 07/1235.”
As a final reference I would suggest that you go to TimesOnLine for an article of 13 December 2009 entitled ‘Officials cover up wind farm noise report’. The article begins “Civil servants have suppressed warnings that wind turbines can generate noise damaging people’s health for several square miles around.” I am sure the rest of the article will appeal to your post-graduate intellect.
Yes it would be good to have your information/documentation in this conversation to fully understand your stance.
In answer to your question regarding rotor/generator drive configurations, there is some research work being conducted to use direct shaft drive rather than via mechanical gearboxes as this is deemed quieter.

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M.

If all these objections were raised when coal fired power stations were being designed, we may very well have never built any in the first place.
The Victorians would probably have giant towers producing electricity out of the ether [ have a look at Israel].
IT seems this is not a single solution answer, we need a combination of viable sources taking advantage of Earths natural energy resources, and how about a reinvestigation of our ability to tap the Earths magnetic field.
How about some serious investigation into Nikola Tesla’s ground breaking work on electrical distribution.
The problem is that while we bang our heads together looking for solutions, those that make the decisions only have one motive, profit, forget duty to mankind or collective resources, if it dont make a profit it aint gonna happen!

Windfarms are seen as unprofitable, if they were seen as otherwise instead of derision, they would be receiving high praise.

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Oliver Hitch

I watch Wallander – the Swedish version – and you often see shots of a line of streamlined white turbines turning gently on the horizon. And to me they are things of beauty. Seriously, just our modern version of windmills which of course we all love to restore. Do you think people objected to them too? They are so much more attractive than electricity pylons which we now barely notice as we accept the benefits they bring to our lives. Does no one else share this view?

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Nikki Whiteman

Thought this might be of interest – the RSPB has planned to install a wind turbine at its headquarters in Bedfordshire. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2169124/rspb-flies-wind-turbine-plan/

I think this is a really interesting discussion – I’m very keen on renewable energy and I think my personal opinion is probably quite close to Sylvia’s. But there’s certainly a lot to think about.

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No2Wind

Yes, “Nikki”, there is a lot to think about and the first thing is why have we neglected to consider what real power engineers know makes a 24-365 secure, controllable and demandable energy generation policy?
That is the immense problem we now have at the beginning of this 21st century and it affects the UK world competitiveness.
Perhaps some of my other postings, and those of Phil, will lead you to ‘learn a lot’ rather than having ‘a lot to think about’.
The solution is quite simple and means bringing back the CEGB and, instead of letting technically illiterate politicians loose on our energy generation policies, revert back to the technically LITERATE engineers and scientists who ran the system with such astute cleverness for something like 70-80 years.

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No2Wind

Another factor to consider , “Nicki”. The Mail on Sunday did a 7-page Reportage article about neo-dymium. That is the high magnetic density material which is used in wind turbine generators.
Did you know it leaves large TOXIC lakes in China where it is mined and reduced?
So whilst you have your opinion about renewable energy, think deeply about how other parts of the world are being destroyed for the European “green” dream. Think about the Chinese people who it is affecting. Is that morally justified?
Don’t forget also several UK industries have exported their carbon emissions to the Far East where goods are made using Far East electricity and then sent back into the UK markets.

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Stan Smith

Wind farms are a colossal wast of money. Consumers need a reliable source of electricity 24/7, and wind farms cannot supply this. When there is no wind, and when there is too much wind they either burst into flames or are shut down and no electricity is generated in either case. They can never be regarded as a continuous source of energy.
We live on an island. i.e. we are surrounded by water. Tides come in and recede twice a day without fail. Expenditure on wind farms should be cancelled immediately and all future expenditure spent in promoting tidal power with turbines in the sea wherever it is safe to place them

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richard

Sadly they never were regarded as a constant source of power – only by a certain section of society I am too polite to name, The costs of installing effective tidal power is colossal – so is their maintenance and their environmental impact on fish birds and crustaceans. Wind-farms represent the minimal environmental impact at reasonable build costs. Large scale solar farms have higher environmental impacts – unless attached to buildings – but then they are not Solar farms but a solar unit…

The only sea water power system that I know that is “economical” to build is wave power – sadly wave power suffers from intermittent generation just as wind – farms do. These have been built – but do not generate a mythical constant power as they depend on weather, Finally have to point out we do not ever generate constant power it rises and falls according to demand – we need to match the supply to demand in an environmentally friendly way. Wind – farms start to do that – so are not a colossal waste of money. but we need far more building of solar and hydro generators.

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No2Wind

Sorry “Richard” wind power stations do not do what you think the toy-box states. They are a COLOSSAL waste of our money and resources. Windfarms do NOT represent the minimal environmental impact at reasonable build costs. That is met by conventional fossil fuels and nuclear.
Wave and tidal is playing with the embodiment of our attraction forces with other planets in our solar system. Play with it at our peril because we don’t know if the earth will go off axis by compromising these huge ocean forces.
Solar has a much lower load factor than wind generation and so is doubly useless fo a modern competitive society.

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wavechange

Whether wind turbines are obscene or elegant or whether PV panels are boring or functional, we may have to get accustomed to them or cope without a regular electricity supply. Wake up to the consequences of our profligate and rising population and find better solutions if you don’t like what is happening.

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John Ward

I don’t have a problem with wind as an energy source but at the time of writing it seems that 39% of respondednts to the little survey at the end of the article are against turbines and think they are awful. This does surprise me but the opposition to wind farms is strong, is articulate, and has to be reckoned with in a sensible way. I haven’t yet seen a response to Dave D’s first point about the alleged noise nuisance of turbines. This remains one of the main bones of contention [alongside the landscape impacts]. The reputed inefficiency of wind power also needs to be tackled responsibly with fair assessments of the alternatives and long-term costings. There must be a way of fitting governors to turbines so they do not over-generate power and have to be switched out when the wind blows strong – we can do without this nonsensical argument against them,.

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wavechange

I agree that we need to have an objective assessment of the alternative sources of energy available, including a review of costs and potential for improvement. One thing that we can be sure of is that not everyone will be happy with the outcome. We should pay attention to constructive criticism and just ignore those who are opposed to everything.

I see a lot of potential for solar PV used on new buildings wherever possible, rather than adding these panels piecemeal. OK, they are not much use in the middle of winter or at night but they could help do a lot to cope with the demands of air conditioning, which is increasingly popular. People with solar PV seem to be very well aware of their electricity use, which is a step forward.

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richard

I don’t think the noise of wind farms is any worse than aircraft – and we live with them easily.

Have to add that air-conditioning in the UK was unheard of 30 years ago – and we lived with that happily- Frankly the hedonistic lifestyle needs to stop. we need to REDUCE power consumption – not increase it – otherwise any new improvements will be as wasted just as much as they are now . We’ve had objective assessments of alternative sources before and the answer is clear – investment – But the de-nationalised power companies are only interested in personal instant profits – when they were nationalised there was a common goal – which is why I support re-nationalisation.

The reason governors are unlikely to work well is it is not just over-generation of power that is the problem but sheer stress on the blades and structure – The stronger and heavier the blades (to cope with the stress) the less effective they are in low wind conditions. It is cheaper to stop the blades and rotate at 90 degrees to wind direction. in gales.

What we need is a holistic approach to power generation – so hydro – wind – and solar power need to be equally supported as an integrated system. This is just not so now. We have more than enough natural power sources to supply a constant controllable supply. . Interestingly I did research and development on wave – tidal power in the 1960′s – fifty years ago – still virtually no further large development. Because the greedy power companies are not interested in reducing fossil/nuclear consumption only in increasing profits.
.
Generally the reason people with solar PV are aware of their electricity use is they pay for it.

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wavechange

I believe that there is huge potential to cut down waste of electricity and we should all be doing our bit. Whether we like it or not, air conditioning plant is gradually being installed in existing buildings and built into new ones. It may be the next ‘must have’ feature to be added to houses.

Our nationalised companies were very inefficient and beset by union problems. In order to compete, private companies have to be more efficient. That does not mean that they should be allowed to make excessive profits and we should certainly not be buying power from French and German companies. Anyway, we don’t have the money to nationalise power generation, so you are just going to have to live with it and hope that some government will sort out the profiteering. The present government has not done much but neither did the last government.

I think it would help if the problem of shear stress was explained to the public, who cannot understand why wind turbines are shut down in gales.

I do not know whether the noise of wind turbines is something we can be expected to cope with or not. Many of us do not have to cope with aircraft noise.

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No2Wind

“John Ward” you need to read Amanda Harry [UK], Barbara Frey [UK], Dr. Chris Hanning [UK], Dr. Sarah Laurie [Australia], French Academy of Medicine [2006], the Davis family in Lincolnshire, Dr. Alex Salt [USA], Dr. Nina Pierpont [Wind Turbine Syndrome]. Then find out why a moratorium on wind turbine installation has been called in Ontario. All because of noise such as LFN. Not only does it affect people’s hearing but also balance and mental capacity for fighting depression. It also has effects on cardiac problems.
Do you think the people of Powys Wales are stupid?
So there is a start for you.

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No2Wind

For heaven’s sake, get it right “wavechange”. Shutting down in high wind has very little to do with shear stress. A wind turbine acts just like a lamp-post in windy conditions. It becomes a sail and thus the problem of the strength in the tower is down to bending moment as calculated by the structural engineer. [Such calculations are also done for lamp standards]. Don’t forget that the rotors are also feathered to reduce the bending moment and the whole rotating structure is braked in situ, probably on the shaft.
Additionally there is a limit to the mechanical rotation speeds of the moving parts.
So now perhaps you can explain to the public where shear stress comes into the picture.

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John Ward

I am obliged to you, No2Wind, for the further reading instructions. I have had no scientific training or experience [other than that gleaned through nearly fifty years of reading Which? magazine] so I probably could not cope with the some of the sources you have cited. I find this Conversation site helpful in getting abreast of some of the issues, as ordinary people see them, in a friendly and “conversational” fashion but, as you can tell from earlier postings, I am pro-wind power. Perhaps my own attempts to experience the effects of wind turbines have been inadequate since I have not detected any noise nuisance around the turbines I have stood near. I should get out more.
And I wish you wouldn’t talk to wavechange like that – we’re all trying to get our heads round this subject and his contributions to these conversations are, without exception, pertinent, coherent, lucid, and above all restrained.

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No2Wind

Point taken, John, but I have been getting my head around this subject for 20 years and more [as an engineer] and have found some things difficult to understand but it does eventually come. Cast aside your lack of scientific training and experience and keep reading Which as it builds up an internal “gut” feel for the science of things – I have no medical training, but do understand the doctors contributions I read are passing important information to me about noise and medical problems associated with aero-generators, to give them their correct name.
It is important to understand that there is the noise you can hear directly through your ears but have you ever been next to a large explosion and been aware of other sensations than the noise in your ears? This is your sensory perception of air and ground induced vibrations and these are what tend to be sensed as low frequency vibrations, whilst your ears cannot detect them; buildings and loose windows are vibrated by them. These vibrations can actually induce things like vomiting so it is easy to see how cardiac problems can be antagonised. However, it is as well to understand it does not happen to everyone, thank goodness, as we all have different sensitivities.
Hope this is of some help and that you continue to investigate. If you need more, do not hesitate to ask. It is a long and painful process to learn the facts, many of which when investigated fully, and not taken at face value, are surprising.
On noise you may also find it beneficial to google “L.P.Lombardi M.D.” to get into why Ontario has a moratorium on wind turbine development – basically noise and economics.
Unfortunately “wavechange” asked for what he received. I gave him references and proofs and he stuffed them in the waste bin. Enough said!

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Charlie Guthrie

I can’t speak for utlility scale wind farms, but if you look at smaller turbines the figures speak for themselves.
I know a farmer that from a £60k investment in a turbine has now cut his electricity bill from £500 per month to just £100 per quarter. That’s pretty good going in anyones book. Add into that the Feed in Tariff incentive he gets and suddenly you have a business model that could yield a profit and therefore keep his dairy running, plow income back into the local economy etc. So i moved away from pure facts and into the debatable world of how profits can make a difference, but anyone can see the underlying logic is there.
It’s worth noting that although I won’t name the farmer in question, he has appeared on several BBC programmes adding in a ‘owners eye view’

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wavechange

The only problem is that those who are not generating their own power are subsidising those who are. Hopefully more will generate their own power in future and deserve some incentive, but the Feed In Tariff was too generous to be fair to the rest of us.

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No2Wind

We DON’T have to rely on imported energy if only our energy policy politicians got off their a@@@s and invested our tax in developing coal, shale gas and nuclear thorium technologies.
Don’t forget that 1MW Installed Capacity of wind or solar generation ENFORCES at least 0.9MW of newly built 24-365 fossil fuel backup generation. That wasted fuel compromises the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Yes, taken straight from the 1987 Brundtland Commission UN definition of ‘sustainable development’.)

[This comment has been edited for being personal. Thanks, mods.]

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wavechange

In her introduction, Sylvia has briefly outlined some positive and negative factors about wind power to get the discussion started.

You are entitled to your opinion, but if you are going to be rude and personal you might as well leave the rest of us to continue the debate, commenting on the issues and hopefully not being rude to each other.

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richard

Explain EXACTLY why “1MW Installed Capacity of wind or solar generation ENFORCES at least 0.9MW of newly built 24-365 fossil fuel backup generation” please.

A 1 MW capacity of newly built wind or Solar farm simply means it can REPLACE 1MW of wasteful coal, shale gas and nuclear thorium technologies.already built which pollute.- when the environmental conditions allow it. It does not mean that FURTHER wasteful coal, shale gas and nuclear thorium technologies need to be built to maintain current energy generation.

If we built more Hydro Generation then it could permanently replace wasteful coal, shale gas and nuclear thorium technologies. Both solar and wind are intermittent sources of energy to INTERMITTENTLY replace the other technologies and so SAVE fossil fuels. Saving fossil fuels means there is LESS pollution.

I think we need to invest in wind solar and especially hydro generation – and cut as much of the wasteful coal, shale gas and nuclear thorium technologies as possible.

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wavechange

Coal and oil are valuable starting materials for a vast number of products we take for granted. We need them for future generations, quite apart from the pollution issue.

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richard

Wavechange

WELL SAID very eloquent! Could not agree more – plus No2Wind’s science seems a little miss-informed – I know nobody in power generation ever expected wind farms to be anything but an intermittent supply to supplement any existing generation whatever that is. It still remains that any energy supplied by wind farms takes the place of the energy supplied by oil gas or nuclear generation – so saving those resources for future generations to use responsibly –

No2Wind seems hell bent in denuding the earth of fossil and nuclear resources NOW and creating pollution that has already started to destroy the environment.
It is just not sustainable

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wavechange

Thanks Richard. As an asthmatic and have suffered a lot from the effects of pollution, but everyone is affected. Doing a chemistry degree helped me understand the value of our limited natural resources. As you say, we have a duty to help preserve resources for our successors.

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No2Wind

“Richard” wants me to explain why “1MW Installed Capacity of wind or solar generation ENFORCES at least 0.9MW of newly built 24-365 fossil fuel backup generation”.
As a qualified electrical engineer [30 years Chartered, by the way, "Wavechange" so I can't say I give much credence to your chemistry knowledge as carbon dioxide is the chemical and food of life without which we would not exist!]. My youngest daughter is also an asthma sufferer but I would rather we had a reliable, secure, demandable, controllable, emergency electricity supply at our hospital and London A&Es than having to rely on intermittent wind or solar to work emergency equipment; she has been pulled in blue several times. Anyhow I diverge.
04 June 2008 : Paul Golby, CEO of E.ON “E.ON said that it could take up to 50 GW of renewable energy to meet the EU target. But it would require up to 90% of this amount as backup from coal and gas plants to ensure supply when intermittent renewable supplies were not available. This would push Britain’s Installed Power base from the existing 76 GW to 120 GW.” {Guardian article}
23 April 2009: “Scottish power says that just 30 GW of wind power will require about 25 GW of backup power in case the wind is not blowing hard enough to move the wind generators”. [National Wind Watch].
Guess who is expected to pay for all this backup – that’s right, the British taxpayer so all the (foreign) wind companies can keep drawing subsidies from Ofgem.
As an engineer capable of working the calculation, I believe this backup should be sized at 100%.
And to correct another mistake. Wind and solar power do NOT replace coal, gas or thorium. What happens is that, if and when wind or solar is generating, as that energy cannot be stored, the coal and gas plants are turned down to allow the wind and solar energy the privilege to take load whilst they are so intermittently available. In this situation the coal and gas are running less efficiently and producing more carbon dioxide in the flue gases; these fossil fuel plants cannot be switched off because they can take up to 24 hours to build up steam again. gas is generally quicker which is why gas plant is more generally modulated to allow wind power onto the Grid.
Sorry, you guys, the science and technology of ‘No2Wind’ is not mis-informed. It is dead right. You have a lot of learning to do.

Hello No2Wind, thank you for your many passionate comments. However, some of your comments, including this one, are rude. Please make sure that your comments are about the topic at hand and not about other commenters, or authors. Have a read of our commenting guidelines to understand what we expect of members of our community: http://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines

Plus, it’s important to note that not every Conversation starter is balanced or shows both sides of the argument. This is deliberate – Which? Conversation gives Which? authors a chance to start a debate by proposing a strong personal opinion. This is just the beginning of the Conversation, where your comments explore the positive and negative arguments for each topic. We also have a poll for you to vote on what option you believe. Thanks, Patrick.

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Longley Shopper

Au contraire “No2Wind”. I am highly sceptical that far too many of Which?’s subscribers and staff are right-wing, NIMBY, and pro-privatisation capitalists.

Sylvia is providing a welcome element of balance which gives me some hope that Which? and it’s subscribers are not a very unbalanced clique.

And before ANYONE dares to jump in and accuse me of being a “commie-pinko Guardian reader” let me make it quite clear that what I want to see is BALANCE, not an extremist view in either direction.

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No2Wind

Well, “Wavechange”, let me demonstrate how technically illiterate she is.
6,000 MW for one year = 6,000 x 8760 MW-hr per annum = 52,560,000 MW-hr.
From DUKES2011, Page 214, Table 7.4, the 5-year averaged [2004-2010] Load Factors for wind generation are 26.16% onshore and 28.24% for offshore. Also the RenewablesUK [ex-BWEA] website quotes the average electricity usage per household in the UK as 4.7 KW-hr per annum [4,700 Units].
She knows how she is putting the information to you because she has not stated whether the 6,000MW is Installed Capacity or the average value ACTUALLY generated over a year taking account of the Load Factors.
DECC Energy Trends, Sept2011, Page 18, Tables 2 and 3 show Total UK MW wind generation is 5,360 MW [6,000 SB stated] producing a recorded 10,159.6 GW-hr = 10,159,600 MW-hr. This suggests a Load Factor of 21.6% as an average for onshore with offshore wind compared with the 26.16 and 28.24 above. What do you believe?
Thence 10,159,600 MW-hr divided by 4.7 MW-hr = 2,161,617 households, a far cry BELOW “3.6 million”.
So you now have another question to answer. Do you believe me me and my working calculations using DECC figures specifically for that purpose, or do you believe the likes of the wind sophists corrupting our energy generation policy?
Mine is not an opinion. As qualified electrical engineer I can assure you my assertions are based ONLY on fact.
I could write more but you really ought to do some proper research into the subject of energy generation. Carbon dioxide is the chemical and food of our very existence.

[This comment has been moderated due to personal remarks. Thanks, mods.]

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John Broughton

Wind factories are utterly useless and should have no part in the UK energy equation:-
1 Intermittent nature of production mean they have always to be backed up,
2 Back up runs at less than optimum and produces more CO2 pro rata,
3 They are not economically viable,
4 The subsidies paid to their operators drives more and more consumers into fuel poverty,
5 Landowners profit from a resource ther don’t own – wind,
6 The manufacture, construction and installation produce more CO2 than they can ever save,
7 They destroy tourism and hence jobs in rural areas,
8 They significantly reduce property values,
9 They damage health – noise, flicker and vibration.

I could continue.

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Dave D

I disagree with some of your points just because that’s my opinion, but I disagree with the tourism one because I have first hand experience to the contrary. In South Yorkshire there is quite a tourism industry building up around the wind farms in Barnsley, Doncaster and nearby.

Your last point interests me because, as another contributor has commented a day or 2 ago, I questioned this noise business having spent much time standing right under turbines, touching the columns, and many weather conditions, and I can’t hear any noise form them. No one has yet posted (as far as I can see) any response to my questions. It leaves me feeling very doubtful as to the validity of the noise issue complaints.

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trishabelle

I find it tragic that anyone can think it is acceptable to erect industrial scale wind turbines (not medieval ‘windmills a la Constable and the hay wain) on places like civil war battlefields – and now on the moors that inspired the Brontes. I love the mountains as much as I do the moors and so many of our wonderful tranquil places are being destroyed by the march of the turbines, And they don’t even do what they are suppsed to in terms of combatting global warming due to their fundamental flaw of relying on the wind to power them. We all know how often the wind doesn’t blow strongly enough or blows too strongly for them to be able to be switched on. Meanwhile we have to pay for them for 25 years, making a small number of rich people even richer. A bit of a con really.

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Chris, Gloucester

Wind power will be an essential component in any future low, or lower, carbon environment. They work and generally I like them. However the onshore wind farm, of various sizes we see springing up all over, is perhaps not the right or best approach. We get more, and more consistant, wind on the coast and offshore. This is where we should be building them, preferably mostly offshore. There they’ll produce more energy, not upset so many people, and gain more popular acceptance.

I like wind power but I don’t want the countryside covered in these things either. Offshore is the way to go even if it costs a bit more.

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Neil Harvey

I have a huge problem with Which producing an article which is not only untrue but total green propoganda. Surveys about peoples attitude are uselass unless the people questioned have some real knowledge of what impact a windfarm actually has. Because it is only when you look into how useless they are, the harm they cause and how much this greenwash is costing us that you will object 100% to these white elephants.Which has joined the ranks of the green lobby and has forever lost and claim to being independent. For four years Marcus Rand former former Senior Campaigner for Greenpeace was the Which adviser/lobbyist on energy. He left to become the Cheif Executive of the British Wind Energy Association, so now Which has the same credibility for honesty as the BWEA that is ZERO..

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No2Wind

Beautifully word-smithed Mr. Harvey. As you have probably realised reading some of the comments, several on this thread have a lot to do to be as well read as yourself in the subject.
Several years back, the BWEA website carried the names of 8 [maybe 16] people who BWEA claimed were the principles in writing against windfarms, and we must not forget that some people have been engaged since 1992. The website comment was an ominous threatening “We know where you live because you put your addresses on your letters”. That same BWEA is now RenewablesUK.

Hello Neil, just to reiterate what I have said to No2Wind. Which? Conversation gives Which? authors a chance to start a debate by proposing a strong personal opinion. This is just the beginning of the Conversation, where your comments explore the positive and negative arguments. Thanks.

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John Morgan

No one can surely support wind farms – no not wind ‘farms’- but wind turbine generating stations- on the sort of landscapes for which they are proposed in Mid Wales eg below the iconic Pumlumon partly oon landscape classed as of ‘outstanding landscape quality’ in the LANDMAP produced by the Countryside Council for Wales.
And, amazingly, outside the Welsh National Parks and AONBs, landscape issues have deliberately not been taken into account by the Welsh Government in their selection of the areas in Wales in which wind turbine projects will be concentrated,

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wavechange

What’s your alternative, John? I hope that no-one wants to spoil the appearance of the countryside, but with a rising population we may have find a practical and affordable solution to the demand for electricity if we want to keep the lights on.

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No2Wind

“wavechange”. I would suggest that you have a look at the editions of DUKES from 2000 to 2011. Digest of UK Energy Statistics, published annually by DECC, before you go throwing your opinions around. Base them on fact. Look at Chapter 5 of the DUKES and compare year by year. We all know that the UK population has been increasing in that period. But surprisingly, electrical energy demand on both the Domestic and Industrial fronts has been decreasing [Chart 5.1 or 5.2, I think] during that period of time.
The practical and affordable “alternative” solution to your problem of the lights going out is resolved by using our coal plants and exploiting indigenous shale gas in gas plants combined with developing thorium nuclear power stations [The thorium is in Cornwall if you are wondering].
The UK does support the best engineers in the world, even chemical engineers!

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John

This is one of several biased and misleading “surveys” supported in the last few days by the industry making a fortune from YOUR energy bill. I though WHICH was above this and impartial!

Wind is never going to be the solution. Just suppose we actually had 30% of energy from wind. What will happen on the regular winter days when there is a high over the whole of Northern Europe and no wind!

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Chloe Pink

No2Wind is right – providing a secure electricity supply is a scientific, complex matter.

However, there is a very basic concept that we can all understand and that is that wind turbines are not replacements for our conventional power generators; they are additional to them.
So the straight forward question we can all ask ourselves and one that would be interesting to see presented in a poll is:

What would we rather have in our backyard?

a) A conventional (nuclear, coal, gas or oil) medium sized power station

OR

b) A conventional (nuclear, coal, gas or oil) medium sized power station and
2,000 x 2MW (100 metre tall) wind turbines

Note on above
1) To get the same amount of output as a conventional (nuclear, coal, gas or oil) medium sized power station, we would need 2,000 x 2MW wind turbines (they’re each about 300 feet high).
2) We would still need the conventional power station alongside the wind turbines as the 2,000 wind turbines won’t generate electricity in the quantities we need at the times we need and there may be times when they will generate almost nothing.
3) The amount of electricity produced by the wind turbines will not substitute the amount of electicity produced by the conventional power station on a 1:1 basis because we have to take into account the backup and spinning reserve provided by the conventional power station
4) The fact that wind turbines have a lifespan of about 25 years versus the lifespan of a conventional power station of about 50 years has not been taken into account in the above question but it does mean that for answer b), the costs of building the wind turbines needs to be doubled.

I must admit to being suprised to find such a poor quality article in Which

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No2Wind

“Chloe”. Thank you for your first sentence.
Don’t hide your light under a bush. You are obviously fully clued up on this con/scam and there are several commenters who need to be guided in their research to understand the real story and why we are being reduced to paupers, the poor men and women of Europe.
Its called “subsidy” as in Renewables Obligation Certificates and now, additionally for solar especially, Feed-In Tariff. Just one huge political scam.

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Mike R

In my view, wind farms are not the way to harvest green energy. I often cross the Thames Estuary by boat – there are hundreds of wind turbines out there, and a lot of the time not one of them is turning. In a cold winter high pressure situation, when electricity is needed for heat, again, very little is generated as there is often very little wind.

This means that, in addition to the capital cost of the windmills, we also have to invest our capital in an equally powerful alternative (coal , gas or nuclear) generation system,.

Why are we spending so much money on these inefficient devices when we could instead have reliable, continuous tidal power? (High tide occurs at different times around the country, so generation of power can be continuous.) The tides will keep on trucking as long as the moon is in the sky…..

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No2Wind

“Mike R”. Couldn’t agree more but I have included my comments about using wave and tidal earlier. These aquatic forces are the manifestations of our attraction forces with other planets of our solar system. To play/interfere with these forces is an unknown quantity as it could affect our orbital relationship with the other planets and the Sun. As it is the earth does go through a cycle of tilting on its axis and this is obtainable from centuries of weather patterns.

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Dr Jamie Martin

Who would vote yes for windfarms when the electricity they produce is so intermittent and unreliably so? Homes can light a candle when lights go out but a factory cannot. A modern economy needs a reliable electricity supply. EON, the energy company says we have to have a 90% backup of power provided by nonrenewable sources, so where is the saving in either CO2 or money?

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No2Wind

Hello, “Patrick Steen”. My comments are not rude as you have suggested. Whereas the author has asserted INCORRECT facts as a “negative”, surely your ‘commenting guidelines’ under the HRAct 1998, Article 10: Freedom of Expression should allow me to give the ‘positive’ side of the argument by asserting the CORRECT FACTS, as has Neil Harvey.
So you do not consider Sylvia Baron’s strong personal opinion based on sophism and scam is actually being rude to those of us who appreciate the REAL facts. Come now.
Your description of my comments as being “passionate” RUDE because they are FACT-based and not naive “green” “religious” opinions.
Yes, I’ve voted on the poll which is now verging towards those of us who know the FACTS. That means that in the follow-up to NOW being launched and organisations such as RenewablesUK [ex-BWEA - remember Which's Marcus Rand, I hope] attempting in many ways to undermine that organisation, the many thousands of ordinary people with real facts and knowledge on the situation are getting their voices into the polls and broadcast by our politicians and investigative reporters.
This is not the only poll which has emerged at this time and the histories all tell a story. What, with the first few votes cast, appeared to show agreements that wind power “Yes, I think they are a great idea” is being turned into “No – I think they are awful”.
I did not enter the subject of ‘asthma’ first, nor was I the first to introduce a competitive challenge by degree qualifications and I do have a 2.1 Honours degree from the University of Liverpool [1964-1967], just to assure you that my arguments are based on knowledge and FACT.
You may object to the tone of argument but, having spent a 45-year successful career in the wealth-creating, profit-driven private sector, my responses are not out of the ordinary and are normal for the course.
Unfortunately, FACT-based truth hurts.

Hello No2Wind, all we are asking you to do is treat other commenters and authors with respect, and to engage in the items of debate rather than talking about the individuals who have joined that debate. This ensures that others feel comfortable in joining the discussion and may be a better approach to get others to see your point of you.

We’re very happy for you to point out where you think we have made mistakes, however if you can’t stick to our commenting guidelines, I may have to ask you to refrain from commenting. Thanks, Patrick

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No2Wind

Hello once again “Patrick Steen”. Yes, I agree with you that the Conversation starter needs to be provocative to engender interest.
However, ‘Which’ prides itself on dealing with FACTS, having cut out the fiction.
That is precisely what I am doing and I would have presumed that, whilst the “conversation starter” may be provocative, it should not use unproven opinion and fictional argument to introduce what is a very serious matter for UK society and its future generations, unless it is purposefully inviting FACT-based rejoinders as the ‘positives’.
The inclusion or not of wind and/or solar electricity generation in the UK electricity generation portfolio is far too important to be left to someone’s technically illiterate opinions. It is a rolling technical and engineered policy with forward planning of 50 years or more being necessary to continue the far-reaching unselfish brilliance of the men who started it [Lord Kelvin et alia].
Since privatisation of the electricity generation of this country in the 1980s, our politicians seem to have drastically lost the plot to the detriment of our future citizens; electricity supply in our modern societies is a service for the community, not a means of making foreign investors rich, several of whom are the Governments of EU countries.
Its called “biting your nose off to spite your face”.
Thank you for allowing me to lodge my views in the discussion.

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Dave D

For heaven’s sake, No2Wind, grow up and stop throwing a tantrum just because there is a sizeable opposition to your downright rude and stroppy contributions.

You are doing far more damage to the anti-wind lobby than you are doing good because you are giving a very convincing impression that the anti-wind lobby doesn’t have a leg to stand on, knows it doesn’t and so can only fight by being offensive.

As one who is pro wind but has some (slight) reservations all you are doing for me is making me more determined that I will support wind at any cost.

Can you not see how people are laughing at you?

And I apologise in advance to Which? and to any contributor / reader who thinks that this rebuff is rude: it is not intended to be.

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John Ward

Thank you very much for posting this comment Dave D. I have also become somewhat uncomfortable with some of the behaviours exhibited on this and certain other conversations on this site when the vehemence of people’s convictions eclipses their good nature towards all participants.

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M.

Here we go again….. why the bickering and one upmanship? This is not parliament, this is a group of people who are looking to provide solutions to a current problem, we have no political point to make or gain any benefits by joining this discussion, except that maybe, just maybe, we can together make a contribution to our future.
I asked earlier for some FACTS to back arguments, thankfully some have come forth, it seems that as ever the solution to electricity supply in the future must comprise of a combination of several methods, hopefully with the majority coming from sustainable sources, including some wind generation [which we are discussing here]. Certain informed power generation ratios, output characteristics and maintenance forecasts provided make clear that wind generation cannot be an absolute solution in itself, but can be a contributory factor.

I myself, am aware of both military & governmental ‘grey technology’ in energy production [as well as other areas] which if I tried to post would be taken down and I would be given a severe slap, on something a little more painful than my wrist [What I can say is nuclear fusion reactors are looking good, but not working as well as they look]. It is for this reason I call for facts behind a discussion this important, as so much emotive spin is put on this subject that the emotions do tend to blot out the science.
In closing may I remind you all that, no one likes an overbearing know it all, who because they have some knowledge or experience in a field, use it to berate and insult other posters, calling others illiterate & naive in a condescending and insultive matter, does nothing for an argument, if anything it reduces the posters own message. We all have knowledge others don’t possess, the idea is to share it civilly not beat up those who are not in the know!

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No2Wind

Don’t rise to any bait “M” because you are unsure of your facts. Establish the truth.
I obviously have read and investigated about the HoL and HoC Select Committees because, whether you realise it or not those people determine Government policy; several of my colleagues have given evidence to these scientific Select Committees. I do not intend to apologise to you for my knowledge of the renewables situation or associating with persons known as “Expert Witnesses”.
Perhaps you need to do a bit more investigation.
For your information I signed the Official Secrets Act some 50 years ago and I have really worked behind “closed” doors. So don’t try to make your argument for having done that.
Did you know that a nuclear aircraft engine using molten salt technology and thorium was developed in the 1950s? With respect to nuclear fusion, I suspect you should look to the South of France for your knowledge, certainly not this country.
Please discuss on the basis of fact/knowledge.
If you think this is “beating up” by me, try and survive in the real wealth-creating private sector.
In short, I am not an “overbearing know-it-all”, but just have the knowledge held by the majority of professional engineers because that is what we are paid for in your world.

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wavechange

Thanks M. It is very sad when arrogance and rudeness spoils useful discussion. Anyone who feels the need to criticise others, rather than their arguments, would do well to devote time to studying their own failings.

As you say, we are likely to use a combination of methods for electricity generation in future. My own view is that we will only find the best way forward if we are prepared to experiment and learn from our successes and mistakes. Let’s not forget about environmental issues and what we leave for future generations to cope with.

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No2Wind

“wavechange”. I have also logged a response e to “M.”. Truthful, investigated knowledge and fact are not “arrogance and rudeness”. Why not stop complaining and make sure you have that equivalent knowledge and fact, which is what I have taken the time to do.
Experimentation was done with wind up until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and wind was discarded for the benefits of demandable coal and steam.
The Betz Limit sets down the maximum level of energy which can be recovered from a wind turbine. That is 59% of the energy contained by 1 kg of moving air at NTP because stopping the air completely after the rotor stops the rotation and stops the generation.
Have you checked to see if the GRP/Fibreglass rotor blades are recyclable?
How do you recycle the huge lumps of concrete left as wind turbine tower foundations?
How much carbon dioxide is emitted into the air when making 1 tonne of cement and then turning it into concrete, transporting it and placing it. {batch plants are used if sufficient concrete has to be made}.
As an aside, what you refer to as wind turbines are not. They are aero-generators because the rotating blades are not encased in a cylinder to direct air flows.

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wavechange

I am not interested in your views, though – as Dave says – they are providing us with entertainment. Why not let the rest of us get on and enjoy civilised debate.

I could pick holes in what you have posted so far, but I am not going to waste my time.

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No2Wind

“wavechange”, pick away with pleasure but make sure it is fact-based.
I’ve offered a challenge to “Dave D.” earlier, to use his own reference information to disprove what I claim.
Why don’t you pick away and disprove what I claim? That is the easiest way to show I should not be on this thread.
I’m certain that Which wishes to get to the bottom of the Conversation and will keep the thread live for a couple of days more to see what you have to offer.

Hello Wavechange, M., No2Wind and Dave D – let’s please not turn this into a tit-for-tat battle between one another. I have made it very clear that we must stick to Which? Convo’s guidelines and concentrate on the topic of discussion. There is no need to reiterate this moderation.

There’s room for everyone and all views – and there’s also room for a heated debate! Just please think carefully before you hit the submit button – is your comment about the arguments at hand, or are they about individuals? If it’s the latter, try again.

Any more comments that fail to treat one another with respect will be removed.

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M.

Hi Patrick,
No intention here of doing anything other than seeking information, and contributing my tuppence worth, just asking for others to do the same, without the condescending rudeness , and overbearing arrogance that tees me and most others off.
Whilst No2Winds postings are helpful in pointing us at relevant information sources
I do not think is is helpful to which or this thread to have a poster who arrogantly insults anyone they disagree with, and then tries to disguise it under the guise of imparting, truthful, investigative knowledge. Especially when that knowledge is not as informed as claimed.
I have asked for the same as you, to stay on topic, and be a little more polite. But obviously my posting was too difficult to understand and either has been misunderstood, or just ignored by someone on a mission.
I have no wish to argue in this manner therefore I withdraw from this discussion.

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wavechange

I am very disappointed by the lack of moderation of this Conversation. Two regular contributors had made fair comments about the problem before I joined in. I have made the point that I want to enjoy civilised debate. I will withdraw from the discussion too.

Hi both, thanks for your input and I understand your frustration – your continued efforts to stick to our commenting guidelines and promote them with new contributors is much appreciated – it’s one of the reasons why we feel it’s OK to sometimes stand back – that is until it gets out of hand.

We have removed a number of comments, and edited others that were rude and/or offensive. We see this as a last resort, where a warning is the first port of call. Again, the main goal is to now get the comments back on track. Thanks again, Patrick.

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John Broughton

As I have already said the original article was definitely biased in favour of wind and may have resulted from an incomplete understanding of all the circumstances. No2Wind is, in my view, correct to say that wind must be 100% backed by convential means of generation, that back up in itself creates inefficient generation and enhanced pollution.

[Hi John, your comment has been partially edited. Please keep to the topic of wind farms. Thanks, mods.]

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No2Wind

No problem, Patrick, I have seen John Broughton’s comment UNEDITED so I know exactly what you have taken off.
Thanks, John, for the vote of confidence. Lets hope this “thank you” is not moderated off.

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Chloe Pink

Like it or not, No2Winds’ posts are informed even if slightly larger than life (possibly a result of the opening to this discussion which was undoubtably provocative due to its inaccuracies).

And it is painful to read yet again, from another supporter of wind, that it’s better to have a wind turbine in your back yard than a nuclear power station; it’s hard to know where to start, this isn’t a like for like comparison, wind turbines aren’t alternatives/replacements for oil, gas, coal and nuclear – however once this concept is understood, much unecesssary debate is spared and there is space for learning which some folks here genuinely seem to want to do.

I hope the discussion continues but remember don’t shoot the messenger even if his delivery is a bit abrupt.
This debate is about a view, dead birds, dead bats, tourism, noise and peoples homes but ultimately it’s about an affordable, secure electricity supply that will in turn support our economy which in turn puts food in our bellies.

un understoodand onc reisn’t an ;uta vehmemte hard to see yet another rei

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Chloe Pink

PS Apologies for last line of my previous post.
What exactly does “The UK has 40% of Europe’s entire wind resource” mean?

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No2Wind

“Chloe”, this comes from looking at a wind map of Europe [chase on Internet] and, I think this is a claim by RenewablesUK [ex-BWEA] to attempt to justify the clamour and continuation of developing wind generation across the UK. Financially, this is very lucrative for foreign companies drawing out our electricity bill subsidies [ROCs] across the Channel to Europe.
RenewablesUK never consider things like anti-cyclones during the winter period and you only have to check the “bmReports” website to follow the day-to day generation characteristics of wind. They also use the claim that there is always wind blowing somewhere in the UK, so if it goes missing in one place it will turn up somewhere else – doesn’t necessarily follow as proven by anti-cyclones. Don’t forget as well that the original wind farms were installed in areas deemed to have the best wind. So now how many “best wind” places might be left? Probably none now, so performances will suffer. That is the advantage of fossil fuels – undinting in guaranteed tonne-by-tonne performance, reliable, secure and demandable.
When you locate and examine a relevant map you could well disagree with the 40%. [try http://www.windatlas.dk/Europe

I don’t think we can be as black and white as saying it is either wind or fossil fuel.

The fact that electricity produced from wind is intermitent in itself means that other forms of electricity generation are required. However I don’t think that its intermittency means we should not consider wind farms at all. I believe that there isn’t a one-fit-all solution anymore and that, ideally, a blend of technologies is the way forward: wind where it’s windy, solar panels when it’s sunny, hydro, microgeneration, etc and that we should be limiting fossil fuels to ‘top up’ these renewable sources.

A fossil fuel only generation is not sustainable and does not come from ‘free’ resources like the wind or the sun. It requires extracting, processing and transporting fossil fuels which are a finite resource in high demand. So let’s minimise its use and make the most of renewable energy sources where possible.

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Chloe Pink

The best way to reduce fossil fuel use is through conservation of energy.
Sylvia, what’s your key reason for wanting to reduce fossil use?
In this blend of technologies, how much of it would be wind (in terms of installed capacity)?
What are the quantified benefits of using wind to this degree?
You mention hydro in your list of generators, hydro isn’t a generator as such, it’s a storage mechanism.

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No2Wind

“Chloe”, the fact that you have highlighted hydro is a good pointer for Sylvia to fully investigate this whole subject and to see the myths put out by wind protagonists like Maria McCaffery and RenewablesUK. She does not seem to understand that to generate electricity by water implies “running” water and that is how hydro storage works except the big problem in the UK is that we have to artificially fill the top reservoir first using …..electricity. Then, after discharging its stored water in about 4-6 hours [Wales and Scotland] sufficient spare electrical energy has to be on tap to recharge the upper reservoir. It is the type of electricity generation used to cover the massive demands on tea-making between TV programmes. i.e. demand peaks. To all intents and purposes hydro generation in the UK is just as stochastic and intermittent as wind and solar.
Hydro, as in running rivers, is equivalent to piddle power and that is why the few cases are called micro-generation.
Sylvia also needs to realise that, in a modern electricity portfolio, you can’t have renewables without 24-365 fossil fuel backup for those renewables. The comment by Dr.Jamie Martin earlier had it in a nutshell: ‘Homes can light a candle when lights go out but a factory cannot.’ Nor can our emergency services simply light a candle.
Likewise we cannot afford to “limit fossil fuels to “top up” these renewable resources” or the country will be covered with blanket black-outs and brown-outs. Unfortunately, she appears not to understand how a generation system works or, for that matter, how an electricity infrastructure is designed to supply reliable, secure, demandable and infinitely despatchable electrical energy.
Did you have success on the wind resource front? Also Google “William Hyde DFH C.Eng” for ‘When the wind stops….’ and an author who would probably interest you on backup figures is “Kent Hawkins” of MasterResource.
Still we must wait for her answer to your questions.

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No2Wind

Sylvia, you need to realise which is the chicken and which is the egg. The political inter-loper in all of this is renewables, not fossil fuel or nuclear.
If you are in a remote location without any resource to a fossil fuel generated Mains supply or diesel generator, then intermittent wind or solar may be your answer but you will have to construct quite a large battery storage/invertor/convertor system to benefit from instant electricity which fossil fuels in the form of a diesel generator gives you [you will need to transport and store the diesel]. Otherwise, your money and patronage is wasted.
If you wish to discuss “A fossil fuel only generation is not sustainable and does not come from ‘free’ resources like the wind or the sun.” here are some considerations.
1987 Brundtland Commission definition of ‘sustainable development’ for the UN.
UN Agenda 21 routemap for ‘sustainable development’.
The definition states ‘sustainable development’ is “that development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
There are no free meals on God’s earth and, consequently, there are no “free’ fuels when the full audit for electricity generation is analysed. You cannot, in an industrial society and world, have renewables like wind and solar WITHOUT ENFORCING 24-365 fossil fuel backup. Therefore renewables generation is far from free and far from “sustainable” development. It is a total MYTH.
Earlier Chloe gave you the correct choice you have to make when she asserted “What would we rather have in our backyard?
a) A conventional (nuclear, coal, gas or oil) medium sized power station
OR
b) A conventional (nuclear, coal, gas or oil) medium sized power station and
2,000 x 2MW (100 metre tall) wind turbines”.
Wasting fossil fuels now in enforced backup for renewables [and realise there is very little scope for further development to increase renewables efficiencies] is wasting fossil fuels my children and their future generations could utilise to meet their own future needs.
That encapsulates the profligate resource wastage of the “green” and “low carbon” religious zealot driven philosophies.

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Chloe Pink

Hi No2Wind, Did have a squizz at the wind map – thank you by the way.
Not quite sure yet what a “wind resource” is – the average wind speeds/ the most common wind speeds/something else altogether – then I guess the different ‘colours’ (wind resources) have to be considered against the turbines i.e. which wind resources would yield the best output from wind turbines (taking into account their start up and shut down speeds) – maybe different turbine sizes would yield better results than others for any given wind resource – then I guess the feasibility of putting the turbines in the best wind resources would need to be assessed etc
But hey, I think we could spend our money on much better things than subsidising wind turbines and we could get better results – conservation of energy is remarkably powerful (wait someone’s going to say ‘we need to do both’ having not established that we have limited funds and ought to put all of them to optimal use).
I knew the 40% wind resource statement was the BWEAs(RenewablesUK) – just wondered what the writer of the statement on this page meant by it.

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David Ramsbotham

Are you disillusioned by rising electricity prices, over dependence on the “green” dream [especially uneconomical and inefficient wind farms] and the destruction of our countryside then please add your support to get the Government to have a serious debate on this issue at

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22958

or by GOOGLING “E-PETITION 22958″ and following the link.

Please pass this message on to Councillors, members of your community and anyone else you know to persuade them to sign up too. If you are really concerned about wind turbines please write a letter promoting this petition to your local Newsletter and to the Editors of your local newspapers.

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No2Wind

Hello David, you probably know me by another name ’1ND2′

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clint kirk

I’ve been trying to follow this topic with interest, but the sheer volume of the debate has made it difficult. Therefore, let me summarise what I think are the two options, from what I can gather after reading the above.

1. The anti-wind farm option

Have all of the UK’s peak power requirement be met 100% using fossil and nuclear fuels.

2. The pro-wind farm option

Have all of the UK’s peak power requirement be met 100% using fossil and nuclear fuels (exactly as above) PLUS:

In addition, have a large number of wind farms scattered around the country and the coast, which, on those occasions when the wind speed is just right, will provide a certain proportion of the UK’s power requirements thus allowing some of the fossil fuel burning to be reduced for that period of time, thereby reducing the production of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere while this is happening.

Does anyone disagree with the above? In particular the fact that adding more wind farms does not mean the generating capacity using fossil or nuclear fuels can be reduced – as far as I can see, this is not being denied even by those in favour of wind farms.

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No2Wind

Clint, there is denial by the pro-brigade because it thinks that wind/solar displaces coal and/or gas generation. It does not. The coal and/or gas selected plant is modulated in terms of the electrical energy it supplies to the grid but continues burning fossil fuels, to keep its generator steam head established, much less efficiently than if it was utilised to actually generate the power onto the Grid. A suitable source on this is Kent Hawkins at MasterResource website or the Bentek Report on wind generation in Colorado.
This is why Chloe phrased the choice to be made in the questions she put.
Peak power is not met by nuclear; it is used as base-load only which means it runs constantly supplying the bottom 15-18% of UK continuous load at optimum output for something like 18 months before shut-down for a months maintenance. It is replaced on line for that shutdown by plants included in what is known as “Plant Margin”.
The inefficiencies of burning fossil fuels in the de-modulated mode generally increase the carbon emissions. Rather like running a car engine on choke.
Only E.ON and Scottish Power have come out and admitted the necessity of backup fossil fuel generation. Recently, the “Big Six” told the Government that it, the Government and taxpayers, were responsible for building all the backup required – it was not the renewables companies responsibility.

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Dave

Well, I’m Pro-wind but I have never imagined in my life, and never said or implied either, that I think wind (or, for that matter, solar) can ever replace all other sources of electricity.

You’d have to have a fairly low level of intelligence to imagine that wind (which even really hardened supporters openly say can never operate 100% of the time) or solar (which everyone knows doesn’t generate in the dark) could ever be the sole source of electricity generation.

Tidal (wave) power is a little different: that CAN generate 24/7, and Hydro power, whilst not infallible, can generate pretty much all the time.

A good mix of renewables / green energy is what is required, and a complete avoidance of nuclear, due to it’s vast cost and the waste product being so difficult to make safe for centuries, plus a minimisation of reliance on fossil fuels, because they are finite.

I’m sorry, No2Wind, but putting words into the pro-wind contributors’ mouths has shown that you are not listening (again). This is an example of what I meant yesterday about you undermining your own ‘side’s’ points.

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John Ward

Dave, you’ve put into words what a lot of us are thinking and got the balance just right. I concur 100%.

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No2Wind

@Dave.
Sorry Dave, providing this does not get moderated off as several of my factual posts, you are not correct once again.
Tidal CANNOT generate 24/7 – what do you do in the “slack” tide periods? Additionally, you will find that the tide periodicities do not occur simultaneously with the set methodical rhythms of modern life to which the traditional and conventional power generation adheres.
What sort of hydro power are you thinking about?
There is a vast difference between the designed and built 4-6 hour output ability of the UK reservoir stations and piddle-power micro-generation “running river” units. Just because it might work in Canada or Zambia or China does not mean it will work over here.
So the basic problem is that you can’t mix a stochastic, intermittent and erratic set of renewables into a properly designed reliable, secure, controllable, demandable, infinitely dispatchable electricity generation system fit for a modern civilisation’s infrastructure.

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Dave

I’m aware of a posting that No2Wind added very late last night, which was removed by the moderators.
No2Wind challenged me (again) to present him with my “facts and references and I will do more than than you have to mine, I will chase them up and check them.”
So, just once more (because I’ve posted this several times now and N2W seems not to have taken notice) I’ll state that my sources for the noise issue are my personal visits to a number of wind farms over a period of almost 16 years now, in a variety of locations and a diverse range of weather conditions. Some of my visits have included standing right next to the turbine columns, leaning on the columns themselves. I have been unable to detect any noise from the turbines beyond a quiet “clang” from the turbines at Royd Moor, Barnsley, as the Nacelle’s change direction to face the wind.
If N2W, or anyone else, wishes to visit the same turbines and stand in such close proximity as I have they will be able to “check” my sources.
I have made no further assertions or claims to need to present sources for – I believe in Wind power, I support Wind power and I buy my gas and electricity from Ecotricity, who invest 100% of their profit in building new wind farms, but I have made no claims or assertions except that they don’t seem to me to create any noise.

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No2Wind

Sorry, “Dave” but I am still waiting for a string of reference documentation which, as a post-graduate student, you implied you had and must surely be able to get together if you have ever had to prepare a Thesis or Technical Essay backed up by a strong bibliography.
So, I am still waiting for these.
I’m sure Government policy will not be based on your personal visits to selected wind power stations.
And, by the way, I have taken great notice of what you have written so as not to misinterpret the Conversation.

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Chloe Pink

OK Dave, Just to keep the discussion flowing – you’ ve been given some stuff on bird kill I think.
A quick bit re shutting down wind turbines (although I think some of it has already been covered ):
There are two circumstances when this is done (apart from maintenance):
1) In high winds, turbines are shut down so that they are not damaged.
2) When the grid cannot take the electricity from wind turbines because it would unbalance the grid, thy are shut down so to speak – this is called curtailment and was in the papers not long ago because we were paying the wind turbine operators a lot of money to curtail their turbines to avoid unbalancing the grid. There isn’t a cheap or 100% fix to the grid for this issue with intermittant, unprecitable generators.

Next noise – the best way to explain your experience of standing under a turbine is that it’s like standing behind a speaker at a rave – you can do that and even just about to speak with someone – but you can’t do that in front of a speaker.
The equivalent to the front of a speaker on a turbine starts about 20 metres (60′) above your head. The noise is made as the blades pass by the tower compressing the air between itself and the tower.
Other things effect what can be heard e.g. if theres little wind on the ground but wind around the blades, there’s no wind noise on the ground to help mask the noise and air temperatures and topography (land form) effect the way sound travels.

Then there’s amplitude modulation; unfortunately its occurrence can’t be accurately predicted but certain turbine layouts (in relation to each other) are a no no if you want to avoid it – AM as it’s called is when the air in the whoompf (from the compressed air) hits another whoomf – I compare it to when the ripples in a pond overlap if you through two stones in close together.
These audible noises are problematic in themselves if you’re exposed to them 24/7 especially at night and the subsequent sleep disturbance over a long time has made some people ill.

Then there’s the noises you can’t hear, very low frequency noises (like the ones that we can’t hear but elephants can and use to communicate with each other over long distances) and these noises in themselves can make people ill.

The other issue is that ETSU-R97 was established many years ago (when turbines were much smaller) to govern noise permitted from turbines but it is failing to protect the public from audible noise – in very simple terms, the noise is measured as an average, this means the whoomps are diminshed when considering what is allowed but in real life they’re still there – mad or what!

This is an extremely basic view of WT noise and not completely accurate but it gives a rough picture of what’s going on I hope; if you really want to get a taste of the noise issue take a look here (scroll down for lots of graphs): http://www.ref.org.uk/publications/255-ioa-critique
Other useful things to look up:
Jane & Julian Davis – organic farmers forced out of their home by AM – wind company settled out of High Court – presumably preferable to airing the issue of AM in full public view – type ‘jane davis settlement’ into google
Wind Farm War – BBC documentary re wind turbins in Denbrook Valley – type in ‘windfarm wars’ and see http://www.denbrookvalley.co.uk/

What really gets me is if wind is so great, why don’t the wind lobby groups do everything they can to resolve this issue so that we can have their great turbines – ah yes because they wouldn’t be able to put the turbines so close to people…how inconvenient

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No2Wind

Chloe, that is a great simile of the “rave” speaker [Can I pinch it? My son was a drummer in a band for 10 years and played the European festivals - used to deafen my wife and me but he never seemed affected and has not gone deaf!]
You have hit the nail on the head with the question about why have the wind lobby not done anything positive on distance to resolve the noise issues.
Your two references assess the situation perfectly and that is the sort of thing which the likes of “M.”, “Dave” and “wavechange” should consider and review.
It is interesting that Patrick Steen has only moderated/removed comments by John Broughton and myself – he has done nothing about those personal antagonistic comments by “M., Dave or wavechange”.

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