SciCombinator

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Concept: Environmental effects of wind power

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Wind turbines generate electricity by removing kinetic energy from the atmosphere. Large numbers of wind turbines are likely to reduce wind speeds, which lowers estimates of electricity generation from what would be presumed from unaffected conditions. Here, we test how well wind power limits that account for this effect can be estimated without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. We first use simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) that explicitly simulates the effects of wind turbines to derive wind power limits (GCM estimate), and compare them to a simple approach derived from the climatological conditions without turbines [vertical kinetic energy (VKE) estimate]. On land, we find strong agreement between the VKE and GCM estimates with respect to electricity generation rates (0.32 and 0.37 We m(-2)) and wind speed reductions by 42 and 44%. Over ocean, the GCM estimate is about twice the VKE estimate (0.59 and 0.29 We m(-2)) and yet with comparable wind speed reductions (50 and 42%). We then show that this bias can be corrected by modifying the downward momentum flux to the surface. Thus, large-scale limits to wind power use can be derived from climatological conditions without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. Consistent with the GCM simulations, the approach estimates that only comparatively few land areas are suitable to generate more than 1 We m(-2) of electricity and that larger deployment scales are likely to reduce the expected electricity generation rate of each turbine. We conclude that these atmospheric effects are relevant for planning the future expansion of wind power.

Concepts: Renewable energy, Electrical generator, Environmental effects of wind power, Energy, Wind, Windmill, Wind power, Wind turbine

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Area-wide measurements of low frequency wind turbine noise were conducted in residential areas adjacent to two different wind turbine facilities in Southern California. The residential measurement location distances ranged from 615 m to 9 km from wind turbines. Additional measurements were also conducted at distances as close as 125 m from the wind turbines. To obtain the residential measurement data, simultaneous digital recordings were made inside and outside residences using microphones designed to achieve a linear response down to 0.07 Hz. The outdoor measurements were conducted with a ground board and two windscreens. The recorded data at residences were analyzed using a cross-spectral technique to minimize the effects of wind acting on the microphone. The data clearly show the presence of infrasound at the blade passage frequency of the wind turbines as well as at the associated harmonics. The primary range of interest is frequencies between 0 and 10 Hz. The residential data in some instances indicate higher levels of infrasound indoors compared to outdoors, indicating a potential amplification of very low frequency sound energy by the residential structure. Representative infrasound data for both facilities are presented and discussed.

Concepts: Environmental effects of wind power, Éolienne Bollée, Energy, Windmill, Acoustics, Hertz, Sound, Wind turbine

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Most studies on the effects of wind energy on animals have focused on avian and bat activity, habitat use, and mortality, whereas very few have been published on terrestrial, non-volant wildlife. In this paper, we studied the utilization of functioning wind farm areas by four terrestrial animals common to agricultural landscapes: European roe deer, European hare, red fox, and the common pheasant. Firstly, we expected that the studied animals do not avoid areas close to turbines and utilize the whole area of functioning wind farms with a frequency similar to the control areas. Secondly, we expected that there is no relation between the turbine proximity and the number of tracks of these animals. The study was conducted over two winter seasons using the snow-tracking method along 100 m linear transects. In total, 583 transects were recorded. Wind farm operations may affect terrestrial animals both in wind farm interiors and in a 700-m buffer zone around the edge of turbines. The reactions of animals were species specific. Herbivorous mammals (roe deer and European hare) avoided wind farm interiors and proximity to turbines. The common pheasant showed a positive reaction to wind turbine proximity. The red fox had the most neutral response to wind turbines. Although this species visited wind farm interiors less often than the control area, there was no relation between fox track density and turbine proximity. Greater weight should be given to the effects of wind farms on non-flying wildlife than at present. Investors and regulatory authorities should always consider the likely impacts of wind farms during environmental impact assessments and try to reduce these negative effects.

Concepts: Environmental effects of wind power, Wind power in the United States, Capacity factor, Windmill, Floating wind turbine, Wind power, Wind turbine, Wind farm

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Objectives The wind industry is a growing economic sector, yet there is no overview summarizing all exposures emanating from wind turbines throughout their life cycle that may pose a risk for workers` health. The aim of this scoping review was to survey and outline the body of evidence around the health effects of wind turbines in working environments in order to identify research gaps and to highlight the need for further research. Methods A scoping review with a transparent and systematic procedure was conducted using a comprehensive search strategy. Two independent reviewers conducted most of the review steps. Results Twenty articles of varying methodical quality were included. Our findings of the included studies indicate that substances used in rotor blade manufacture (epoxy resin and styrene) cause skin disorders, and respectively, respiratory ailments and eye complaints; exposure to onshore wind turbine noise leads to annoyance, sleep disorders, and lowered general health; finally working in the wind industry is associated with a considerable accident rate, resulting in injuries or fatalities. Conclusions Due to the different work activities during the life cycle of a wind turbine and the distinction between on- and offshore work, there are no specific overall health effects of working in the wind sector. Previous research has primarily focused on evaluating the effects of working in the wind industry on skin disorders, accidents, and noise consequences. There is a need for further research, particularly in studying the effect of wind turbine work on psychological and musculoskeletal disorders, work-related injury and accident rates, and health outcomes in later life cycle phases.

Concepts: Energy, Wind power, Wind, Environmental effects of wind power, Turbine, Éolienne Bollée, Windmill, Wind turbine

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Wind turbine site planning is a multidisciplinary task comprising of several stakeholder groups from different domains and with different priorities. An information system capable of integrating the knowledge on the multiple aspects of a wind turbine plays a crucial role on providing a common picture to the involved groups. In this study, we have developed an interactive and intuitive 3D system (Falcon) for planning wind turbine locations. This system supports iterative design loops (wind turbine configurations), based on the emerging field of geodesign. The integration of GIS, game engine and the analytical models has resulted in an interactive platform with real-time feedback on the multiple wind turbine aspects which performs efficiently for different use cases and different environmental settings. The implementation of tiling techniques and open standard web services support flexible and on-the-fly loading and querying of different (massive) geospatial elements from different resources. This boosts data accessibility and interoperability that are of high importance in a multidisciplinary process. The incorporation of the analytical models in Falcon makes this system independent from external tools for different environmental impacts estimations and results in a unified platform for performing different environmental analysis in every stage of the scenario design. Game engine techniques, such as collision detection, are applied in Falcon for the real-time implementation of different environmental models (e.g. noise and visibility). The interactivity and real-time performance of Falcon in any location in the whole country assist the stakeholders in the seamless exploration of various scenarios and their resulting environmental effects and provides a scope for an interwoven discussion process. The flexible architecture of the system enables the effortless application of Falcon in other countries, conditional to input data availability. The embedded open web standards in Falcon results in a smooth integration of different input data which are increasingly available online and through standardized access mechanisms.

Concepts: Stakeholder analysis, Engine, Windmill, Environmental effects of wind power, Wind farm, Standardization, Stakeholder, Wind turbine

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To investigate the association between self-reported and objective measures of sleep and wind turbine noise (WTN) exposure.

Concepts: Sunshine pop, Wind power, The Association, Windmill, Environmental effects of wind power, Wind turbine