NewEnergyNews: WIND FACES CHALLENGES, FINDS SOLUTIONS

NewEnergyNews

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YESTERDAY

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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT NATIONAL HIGH VOLTAGE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM?
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE STATE OF THE U.S. WIND INDUSTRY (AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR UTILITIES)
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SHOULD UTILITIES VALUE SOLAR?
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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: ARE NATURAL GAS AND RENEWABLES THE FUTURE OF TEXAS' POWER GRID?
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Your intrepid reporter

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  • ---------------
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    WIND FACES CHALLENGES, FINDS SOLUTIONS

    Wind energy finds fix for exploding bats
    Tait Militana, March 23, 2009 (Washington Times)

    SUMMARY
    The wind power industry is reportedly on the verge of conquering another of its challenges and positioning itself for greater, faster growth.

    Turbines at some sites have been associated with bat deaths in very high numbers, causing doubts about wind technology among environmentalists.

    Bats seem to identify the towers as potential perches or sense abundant insects near them. When the bats fly near the spinning blades, they get caught in the wind vortex. The tiny creatures experience a sudden pressure change in their lungs that causes internal hemorrhaging, something like what humans experience when they get the bends.

    Objections from environmentalists to the endangerment of the bats, which are an important part of the natural control of insect populations, have slowed the identification of acceptable sites for wind installations.

    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) wrote the book on best practices for siting. (click to enlarge)

    The solution to the dilemma, developed in a study of Iberdrola Renewables wind installations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia by researcher Ed Arnett, is to turn the turbines off when the wind is blowing at very low speeds at night. According to the research, taking this step will eliminate 90% of the bat deaths at the cost of 1-to-2% of the turbines’ power generation.

    The American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) was created to proactively develop solutions. (click to enlarge)

    COMMENTARY
    - The wind power industry is the most advanced of the U.S. New Energy industries. That is partly because windmills are among the oldest of humankind’s efforts to harness its natural gifts with technology. It is also partly because the wind power industry, ever since its emergence in the 1970s and 80s, has squarely faced the challenges it met and found solutions. Green energy, not greenwashing, has always been the wind industry's goal.
    - The first large-scale wind installation, built in California’s Altamont Pass in 1981-82, caused serious harm to migrating bird, especially raptor, populations. The wind industry carefully studied the bird deaths and adjusted its technology and siting procedures. As a result, the next installation that was built, in California’s San Gorgonio Pass, has created no such problems.
    - Over the intervening years, more has been learned about protecting birds. The size and structure of the towers and blades, the speeds of the blades and the coatings of the towers and blades have all been engineered to essentially eliminate bird deaths.


    Wind resolved the bird challenge and is resolving the bat challenge. (click to enlarge)

    - Today, far more birds die as a result of collisions with tall buildings and confrontations with feral cats than die as a result of encounters with wind turbines.
    - Wind project developers in recent years have attempted to site their installations in safer locations since they became aware of the potential harm to bats.
    - In an effort to establish parameters satisfactory to environmentalists, animal habitat specialists and the wide range of other concerned parties, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has written a handbook on siting.
    - The industry also proactively created the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI), a public-private coalition of industry, governmental and environmental specialists that is writing more elaborate and detailed guidelines and establishing a forum in which new challenges can be considered going forward.
    - The proposed solution to the bat issue, turning off the turbines during times of slowed winds when the bats are most vulnerable, will cost enormously in lost power generation. It is another demonstration of the wind industry’s commitment to doing the right thing in the right way even when there is a price to pay.

    Old turbine towers provided perches for migrating birds that lured them into danger...(click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Laurie Jodziewicz, siting authority, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): "We are all really excited about this…The industry takes this issue very seriously."
    - Tom Kunz, bat researcher, Boston University: "You can´t see very much on the outside…[But autopsies reveal] hemorrhages on the lungs. They simply burst open."

    ...Modern turbines offer no such perches. (click to enlarge)

    - Kunz, bat researcher, on the importance of protecting bat populations: "Bats take a very important role in limiting insect populations, including pests…Once you remove a top predator, it creates a cascade effect on the rest of the organisms."
    - Jodziewicz, AWEA, on the seriousness of the hit projects will take to protect bats:"Any kilowatts created are money in the pocket…Anything that reduces kilowatt hours from our projects is a concern. It is something that affects the bottom line of these companies."

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