Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Windmill hazards

As T. Boone Pickens acknowledged, windmills are ugly. They are loud. They interfere with radio and TV signals. Visually they can produce a strobe like effect under certain lighting conditions. Prof Arnold Wilkins of from the University of Essex psychology department and Prof Graham Harding, an expert on photosensitive epilepsy, from the University of Aston have expressed concerns about windmills triggering epileptic seizures. [url]http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/04/29/wind-turbines-can-trigger-seizures-say-scientists/[/url]

For more information see, "Wind turbines, flicker, and photosensitive epilepsy: Characterizing the flashing that may precipitate seizures and optimizing guidelines to prevent them," by Graham Harding, Pamela Harding, and Arnold Wilkins.
Wind turbines are known to produce shadow flicker by interruption of sunlight by the turbine blades. Known parameters of the seizure provoking effect of flicker, i.e., contrast, frequency, mark-space ratio, retinal area stimulated and percentage of visual cortex involved were applied to wind turbine features. The proportion of patients affected by viewing wind turbines expressed as distance in multiples of the hub height of the turbine showed that seizure risk does not decrease significantly until the distance exceeds 100 times the hub height.

Since risk does not diminish with viewing distance, flash frequency is therefore the critical factor and should be kept to a maximum of three per second, i.e., sixty revolutions per minute for a three-bladed turbine. On wind farms the shadows cast by one turbine on another should not be viewable by the public if the cumulative flash rate exceeds three per second. Turbine blades should not be reflective.

Doctors around the world as studying a condition called "Wind Turbine Syndrome". "Out of Kirby Mountain" reports that Dr. Nina Pierpont of Malone, N.Y., is one of those researchers. She testified about "Wind Turbine Syndrome" before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee. She stated:
Three doctors that I know of are studying the Wind Turbine Syndrome: myself, one in England, and one in Australia. We note the same sets of symptoms. The symptoms start when local turbines go into operation and resolve when the turbines are off or when the person is out of the area. The symptoms include:

1. Sleep problems: noise or physical sensations of pulsation or pressure make it hard to go to sleep and cause frequent awakening.

2. Headaches which are increased in frequency or severity.

3. Dizziness, unsteadiness, and nausea.

4. Exhaustion, anxiety, anger, irritability, and depression.

5. Problems with concentration and learning.

6. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Not everyone near turbines has these symptoms. This does not mean people are making them up; it means there are differences among people in susceptibility. These differences are known as risk factors. Defining risk factors and the proportion of people who get symptoms is the role of epidemiologic studies. These studies are under way. Chronic sleep disturbance is the most common symptom. Exhaustion, mood problems, and problems with concentration and learning are natural outcomes of poor sleep.

Sensitivity to low frequency vibration is a risk factor. Contrary to assertions of the wind industry, some people feel disturbing amounts of vibration or pulsation from wind turbines, and can count in their bodies, especially their chests, the beats of the blades passing the towers, even when they can’t hear or see them. Sensitivity to low frequency vibration in the body or ears is highly variable in people, and hence poorly understood and the subject of much debate.

Another risk factor is a preexisting migraine disorder. Migraine is not just a bad headache; it’s a complex neurologic phenomenon which affects the visual, hearing, and balance systems, and can even affect motor control and consciousness itself. Many people with migraine disorder have increased sensitivity to noise and to motion -- they get carsick as youngsters, and seasick, and very sick on carnival rides. Migraine-associated vertigo (which is the spinning type of dizziness, often with nausea) is a described medical entity. Migraine occurs in 12% of Americans. It is a common, familial, inherited condition.

... Data from a number of studies and individual cases document that in rolling terrain, disturbing symptoms of the Wind Turbine Syndrome occur up to 1.2 miles from the closest turbine. In long Appalachian valleys, with turbines on ridge-tops, disturbing symptoms occur up to 1.5 miles away. In New Zealand, which is more mountainous, disturbing symptoms occur up to 1.9 miles away.

Windmills can be iced in the winter, and moving blades can throw large chunks of ice. See "RISK ANALYSIS OF ICE THROW FROM WIND TURBINES", by Henry Seifert, Annette Westerhellweg, and Jürgen Kröning.
Wind turbines are normally erected far away from houses, industry, etc., as the wind
conditions are not favourable in the vicinity of large obstacles. Furthermore, with regard to
acoustic noise emission and shadow flicker certain distances are required by national
regulations, when wind farms are planned in the neighbourhood of residential areas. Thus,
wind turbines should not cause risks as far as ice throw is concerned. However, the turbines
are erected close to roads or agricultural infrastructure in order to avoid long and expensive
access roads for erection and maintenance. This induces a risk for persons passing by the wind
turbines, cars passing the streets if ice fragments fall down from a turbine.

In addition to the health related problems and icing related falls, Paul Gipe reports that work related deaths associated with windmills have occurred. [url]http://www.wind-works.org/articles/BreathLife.html[/url]

Gipe reports,
it appears that the current mortality rate of wind energy of 0.15 deaths per TWh is roughly equivalent to that of mining, processing, and burning of coal to generate electricity according to some researchers. (This data doesn't include increases in mortality from the air pollution that results from burning coal.) Data from other researchers indicates that wind's mortality rate is about half that for the occupational mortality rate for coal.

Windmills also are hazardous to wildlife, especially insect eating bats.

1 comment:

Warren Heath said...

In the rural areas bird and bat kills by the wind turbines and their associated high voltage transmission lines, as well as disruptions to their natural behavior, will have impact on the local ecosystems. This will include significant effects on insect population, since birds and bats consume large quantities of insects, which are harmful to vegetation, livestock and crops. This is orders of magnitude greater than the effects of cats or buildings in these local regions.

It is erroneous and misleading to compare numbers of birds & bats killed in cities, with birds & bats killed in the rural areas where the turbines are located. In some regions, large numbers of rare raptors like golden eagles are being killed, it is hardly sensible to compare one golden eagle killed by a Wind Turbine in Altamont Pass, to a sparrow killed by a house cat in Los Angeles. House cats kill the weakest and smallest of birds, aiding in the natural selection process, and are balanced by the fact that many city residents, feed large numbers of birds.

Florida Power & Light Co. abruptly cut off funding for a study of wind turbine bat kills and blocked access to researchers at all of it’s industrial wind turbine facilities, when it became apparent the large number of bat kills by the turbines. Sounds like industrial Wind Turbine Companies have something to hide:

‘…Bats are incredibly important to humans and the ecosystem as a whole; each bat consumes approximately 2,000 insects nightly, and a lactating female bat will consume up to 3,000 insects each night…”
”… If the 900 or so turbines proposed are built within a 70-mile radius [of Mountaineer] prior to finding solutions, it’s very easy to extrapolate from this data that close to 60,000 bats could be killed every year,” Tuttle said. “That’s very likely not an ecologically sustainable kill rate; it’s urgent to find a solution ‘…

FPL blocks research on Bat Kills by it’s Industrial Wind Turbine Facilities

Well I guess, we can just increase our use of environmentally destructive insecticides to make up for all of the dead birds and bats in rural areas.

Raptor kills by Wind Turbines in Altamont Pass

Another problem with Wind Energy is the Extreme Problems with the expensive Quadruple Over-Sized Environmentally Hazardous High Voltage power lines which must be slung all over the countryside to distribute the Wind Energy. This has led to onerous Right-of-Way seizures, and Million Dollar lawsuits. The best wind location in Europe is Britain, and in spite of its much smaller size of Britain vs the USA, the Public Utility has pegged the cost of the Wind Power Distribution infrastructure for Britain at $2000 per avg delivered kw. And that will increase substantially once world wind installations and high fossil fuel prices causes large increases in material prices.

$20 billion power distribution upgrades for 10 Gigawatts average Wind Power Output

Wind Power for Britain – Lots of HYPE very little SUBSTANCE

Stray Voltages and Ground currents from unsightly dangerous hi-voltage transmission lines cause Productivity Losses from Livestock

Landowners forced to accept Oversized Wind Power Transmission lines, in spite, of a minimum loss of 20% in property value


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