BigWind shadows present in Ohio elections

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More often than not, Democrats support BigWind. All politics is local but we are interested in the NE Ohio race for the Ohio House 37th District where Democrat Casey Weinstein told the Akron Beacon Journal that “: My top priority in the legislature would be to pass new legislation curtailing the existing wind setback laws here in Ohio, which are among the most stringent in the nation. The reason for this is threefold. First: we need to restore local control. Communities want to invest in this technology but are currently unable to do so because of burdensome government overreach in Columbus. Second: wind energy means jobs. The fastest growing job in the nation is wind turbine technician, and the average pay is higher than the median household income in Ohio. We have some of the highest wind energy potential in the nation due to Lake Erie, but our wind setback laws mean we have been unable to embrace that potential. Third: the positive impact on our environment. The Cleveland-Akron area has the 10th worst air in the nation, and it’s making us sick. Children like my daughter Nora are being diagnosed with childhood asthma — a pre-existing condition — because our air is so dirty. Investing in green energy like wind will help us clear up the environment creating a happier and healthier Ohio for all.”

You can’t make this stuff up.  Think about it for a moment.  This guy wants to relax setbacks in order to take advantage of the wind in Lake Erie.  Everyone should say a prayer for Weinstein’s opponent to win on Tuesday.

The Governor’s race will impact the direction of energy policy in Ohio as Richard Cordray is eager to restore renewable energy mandates.  Vote for DeWine.

Robert Bryce has unleashed a new screed against wind in his column “Why Wind Isn’t the Answer”.     Bryce reports that “two Harvard researchers published a paper showing that trying to fuel our energy-intensive society solely with renewables would require cartoonish amounts of land.”  Lead author of the Harvard study, Lee Miller, says “We found that the average power density—meaning the rate of energy generation divided by the encompassing area of the wind plant—was up to 100 times lower than estimates by some leading energy experts.”    The problem is that most estimates of wind energy’s potential ignore “wind shadow,” an effect that occurs when turbines are placed too closely together: the upwind turbines rob wind speed from others placed downwind.”   This is a critical point for all to understand in the context of Ohio’s setback battle.

 Bryce goes on to say “Further: “While improved wind turbine design and siting have increased capacity factors (and greatly reduced costs), they have not altered power densities.” In other words, though Big Wind has increased the size and efficiency of turbines—the latest models stand more than 700 feet tall—it hasn’t been able to wring more energy out of the wind. Due to the wind-shadow effect, those taller turbines must be placed farther and farther apart, which means that the giant turbines cover more land. As turbines get taller and sprawl across the landscape, more people see them.”

But we think there is more.

A friend has reminded us that ‘wind shadow’ is a phenomenon which is not unique to turbines.  In sail boat racing, the shadow of a boat’s sail can be used strategically to rob a competitor boat’s sails of wind.  Wind shadow is the result of any obstacle that impedes or diminishes the flow of wind.   The Harvard researchers quantified that affect and concluded the rate of energy generation touted by the wind industry is actually 100 time lower than many estimates.    How does that affect you?  It means the taller turbines require greater distance from one another to operate efficiently and take full advantage of their longer blades. In all likelihood, developers need to trespass over the neighboring property line to meet their separation requirements and take advantage of the efficiencies of taller turbines.

“The general rule-of-thumb for wind farm spacing is that turbines should be about 7 rotor diameters away from each other. So an 80-meter (262-foot) rotor would need to be 560 meters — more than a third of a mile — from adjacent turbines. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have proposed that twice as much spacing would increase overall efficiency.”

The Ohio Power Siting Board records indicate the rotor diameters for turbines proposed in Ohio include: Nordex N117 383 feet; Gamesa G114 373 feet; GE 2.5-120 394 feet and GE 2.3-116 380 feet.  If wind turbines must be spaced at least 7 rotor diameters from other turbines, the Nordex N117 turbines must be spaced at least 2,681 feet apart.

If a non-participating property owner has property adjoining the wind farm property and the wind developer is allowed to erect a Nordex N117 wind turbine 1,125 feet from his property line (the current statutory minimum), the Nordex N117 will generate a wind shadow that covers/invades at least 1,364 feet of the non-participating property owner’s land.  That is more than ¼ mile and makes a significant portion of the neighbor’s property unusable or uneconomic if he would also like a Nordex N117 to be erected on his property.  In effect, the wind resources available to the neighbor’s property are devalued by the wind shadow created by the adjacent wind farm.  And if there is non-adjoining property in the wind shadow of the wind farm, then the wind resources available to the non-adjoining property are similarly devalued (confiscated).

If wind farms represent the highest and best use of property in rural Ohio, why should non-adjoining property owners be required (through inadequate minimum setbacks) or forced to “donate” their wind resources to a wind farm located on adjoining property?  This is another important aspect of siting wind turbines and trampling property rights.

On another setback front, word came from William Palmer announcing the publication of his peer reviewed paper on setbacks intended to protect the public from falling ice or fragments. “Wind Turbine Public Safety Risk, Direct and Indirect Health Effects” is available for viewing and downloading.  He has sent the link to the paper in case it might be of some use to warriors Ohio: .  The paper can be downloaded as a pdf from the site, or can be forwarded via Facebook or Twitter from there.  The article notes, “This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.” The citation they show is “William K.G. Palmer (2018) Wind Turbine Public Safety Risk, Direct and Indirect Health Impacts. Journal of Energy Conservation – 1(1):41-78.”

The Abstract of the paper is as follows:

Wind turbines are often perceived as benign. This can be attributed to the population majority dwelling in urban locations distant from most wind turbines. Society may understate the risk to individuals living near turbines due to an overstatement of the perceived benefits of turbines, and an understatement of the risk of injury from falling turbine parts, or shed ice. Flaws in risk calculation may be attributed to a less than fully developed safety culture. Indications of this are the lack of a comprehensive industry failure database, and safety limits enabling the industry growth, but not protective of the public. A comprehensive study of wind turbine failures and risks in the Canadian province of Ontario gives data to enable validation of existing failure models. Failure probabilities are calculated, to show risk on personal property, or in public spaces. Repeated failures, and inadequate safety separation show public safety is not currently assured. A method of calculating setbacks from wind turbines to mitigate public risk is shown. Wind turbines with inadequate setbacks can adversely impact public health both directly from physical risk and indirectly by irritation from loss of safe use of property. Physical public safety setbacks are separate from larger setbacks required to prevent irritation from noise and other stressors, particularly when applied to areas of learning, rest and recuperation. The insights provided by this paper can assist the industry to enhance its image and improve its operation, as well as helping regulators set safety guidelines assuring protection of the public.”

Palmer’s conclusion is that a maximum distance of 560 meters (1,837 feet) is required for a public safety setback.  The paper notes, “Physical public safety setbacks are separate from larger setbacks required to prevent irritation from noise and other stressors, particularly when applied to areas of learning, rest and recuperation.”  Palmer is not suggesting that a 560 metre setback from homes, and other places of rest and recuperation is acceptable, but he is “trying to address (reject) head on, the position that an acceptable safety setback from roads and lot lines need only be blade length plus 10 metres.”  

Similarly, this week a report was made about the lack of adequate mitigation and reporting measures in offshore wind.   Dropsafe has pinpointed risks such as nuts and bolts falling from turbine hubs during servicing, and debris from tower sections during installation.  A report prepared by the supplier claims that,  despite recent efforts by the wind industry to improve reporting procedures and best practice, it still needs to take further steps before a significant incident dents the reputation of a major player….