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Debate: Wind energy

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*'''Construction deaths related to wind turbines are common.''' There have been at least 40 fatalities due to construction, operation, and maintenance of wind turbines, including both workers and members of the public, and other injuries and deaths attributed to the wind power life cycle. Most worker deaths involve falls or becoming caught in machinery while performing maintenance inside turbine housings. Blade failures and falling ice have also accounted for a number of deaths and injuries. Deaths to members of the public include a parachutist colliding with a turbine and small aircraft crashing into support structures. Other public fatalities have been blamed on collisions with transport vehicles and motorists distracted by the sight and shadow flicker of wind turbines along highways. *'''Construction deaths related to wind turbines are common.''' There have been at least 40 fatalities due to construction, operation, and maintenance of wind turbines, including both workers and members of the public, and other injuries and deaths attributed to the wind power life cycle. Most worker deaths involve falls or becoming caught in machinery while performing maintenance inside turbine housings. Blade failures and falling ice have also accounted for a number of deaths and injuries. Deaths to members of the public include a parachutist colliding with a turbine and small aircraft crashing into support structures. Other public fatalities have been blamed on collisions with transport vehicles and motorists distracted by the sight and shadow flicker of wind turbines along highways.
 +
 +Wind power proponent and author Paul Gipe estimated in Wind Energy Comes of Age that the mortality rate for wind power from 1980–1994 was 0.4 deaths per terawatt-hour. Paul Gipe's estimate as of end 2000 was 0.15 deaths per TWh, a decline attributed to greater total cumulative generation.
 +
 +By comparison, hydroelectric power was found to have a fatality rate of 0.10 per TWh (883 fatalities for every TW·yr) in the period 1969–1996. This includes the Banqiao Dam collapse in 1975 that killed thousands. .
*'''Wind turbines sometimes disintegrate, jeopardizing communities.''' When a turbine's brake fails, the turbine can spin freely until it disintegrates or catches fire. This is mitigated in most modern designs by aero brakes, variable pitch blades, and the ability to turn the nacelle to face out of the wind. Turbine blades may fail spontaneously due to manufacturing flaws. Lightning strikes are a common problem, also causing rotor blade damage and fires. When ejected, pieces of broken blade and ice can be thrown hundreds of meters away. Although no member of the public has been killed by a malfunctioning turbine, there have been close calls, including injury by falling ice. Large pieces of debris, up to several tons, have dropped in populated areas, residential properties, and roads, damaging cars and homes. *'''Wind turbines sometimes disintegrate, jeopardizing communities.''' When a turbine's brake fails, the turbine can spin freely until it disintegrates or catches fire. This is mitigated in most modern designs by aero brakes, variable pitch blades, and the ability to turn the nacelle to face out of the wind. Turbine blades may fail spontaneously due to manufacturing flaws. Lightning strikes are a common problem, also causing rotor blade damage and fires. When ejected, pieces of broken blade and ice can be thrown hundreds of meters away. Although no member of the public has been killed by a malfunctioning turbine, there have been close calls, including injury by falling ice. Large pieces of debris, up to several tons, have dropped in populated areas, residential properties, and roads, damaging cars and homes.

Revision as of 22:23, 19 July 2008

Is wind power a relatively good energy resource? What are the pros and cons?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

Write Subquestion here...

Yes

Wind farms can be built piecemeal; generating revenue from the first windmill. "The Future of Energy. Trade winds". Economist.com. Jun 19th 2008 - "wind farms can be built piecemeal, unlike most power stations. A half-finished coal-fired or nuclear power plant is a useless waste of money, but a half-finished wind farm is simply a wind farm half the size originally intended—and one that has been providing revenue since the first turbine was completed."


No

Size. Windmills are generally large. The tallest windmills are about 20 stories tall.

  • Wind turbines can disrupt the scenery of a community Chatham, Ontario businessman Harry Verhey told Chatham Sunrise Rotary Club members, "The recent proliferation of industrial wind projects will have a negative impact on the community. The massive size of industrial wind turbines conflicts with the scale and character of the Chatham-Kent landscape."[1] It is notable that wind is often most active on mountains or ocean sides, where the scene is most beautiful, and where wind turbines have the most potential to disrupt the natural beauty.
  • Windmills are sometimes noisy. Windmills are sometimes noisy. Mostly windmills are quiet (see Myth Versus Fact) but sometimes neighbors of wind farms complain of the noise.
  • The installation of windmills can be relatively expensive. Installation cost. Putting in a windmill costs about $45000 to $50000.
  • The financial returns on windmills are often uncertain.
  • Windmills care
  • Leaking lubricating oils or hydraulic fluids from wind power damage environment.


Is it justified to stop using windmills because 1000 birds a year could fly into them and die?

Yes

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No

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Birds: Do wind turbines have a negligible impact on birds?

Yes

  • Birds killed by wind turbines is relatively low. "Danger to birds is often the main complaint against the installation of a wind turbine, but actual numbers are very low: studies show that the number of birds killed by wind turbines is negligible compared to the number that die as a result of other human activities such as traffic, hunting, power lines and high-rise buildings and especially the environmental impacts of using non-clean power sources. For example, in the UK, where there are several hundred turbines, about one bird is killed per turbine per year; 10 million per year are killed by cars alone.[2] In the United States, turbines kill 70,000 birds per year, compared to 57 million killed by cars and 97.5 million killed by collisions with plate glass. An article in Nature stated that each wind turbine kills on average 0.03 birds per year, or one kill per thirty turbines.[3]
  • Carbon emissions are a greater threat to birds. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) concluded that "The available evidence suggests that appropriately positioned wind farms do not pose a significant hazard for birds."[79] It notes that climate change poses a much more significant threat to wildlife, and therefore supports wind farms and other forms of renewable energy.


No

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Offshore mammals: Are problems caused by wind turbines to sea mammals negligible?

Yes

No

  • Offshore ocean noise may harm mammals. As the number of offshore wind farms increase and move further into deeper water, the question arises if the ocean noise that is generated due to mechanical motion of the turbines and other vibrations which can be transmitted via the tower structure to the sea, will become significant enough to harm sea mammals. Tests carried out in Denmark for shallow installations showed the levels were only significant up to a few hundred metres. However, sound injected into deeper water will travel much further and will be more likely to impact bigger creatures like whales which tend to use lower frequencies than porpoises and seals. A recent study found that wind farms add 80–110 dB to the existing low-frequency ambient noise (under 400 Hz), which could impact baleen whales communication and stress levels, and possibly prey distribution.


Public safety: Are wind turbines safe?

Yes

No

  • Construction deaths related to wind turbines are common. There have been at least 40 fatalities due to construction, operation, and maintenance of wind turbines, including both workers and members of the public, and other injuries and deaths attributed to the wind power life cycle. Most worker deaths involve falls or becoming caught in machinery while performing maintenance inside turbine housings. Blade failures and falling ice have also accounted for a number of deaths and injuries. Deaths to members of the public include a parachutist colliding with a turbine and small aircraft crashing into support structures. Other public fatalities have been blamed on collisions with transport vehicles and motorists distracted by the sight and shadow flicker of wind turbines along highways.

Wind power proponent and author Paul Gipe estimated in Wind Energy Comes of Age that the mortality rate for wind power from 1980–1994 was 0.4 deaths per terawatt-hour. Paul Gipe's estimate as of end 2000 was 0.15 deaths per TWh, a decline attributed to greater total cumulative generation.

By comparison, hydroelectric power was found to have a fatality rate of 0.10 per TWh (883 fatalities for every TW·yr) in the period 1969–1996. This includes the Banqiao Dam collapse in 1975 that killed thousands. .

  • Wind turbines sometimes disintegrate, jeopardizing communities. When a turbine's brake fails, the turbine can spin freely until it disintegrates or catches fire. This is mitigated in most modern designs by aero brakes, variable pitch blades, and the ability to turn the nacelle to face out of the wind. Turbine blades may fail spontaneously due to manufacturing flaws. Lightning strikes are a common problem, also causing rotor blade damage and fires. When ejected, pieces of broken blade and ice can be thrown hundreds of meters away. Although no member of the public has been killed by a malfunctioning turbine, there have been close calls, including injury by falling ice. Large pieces of debris, up to several tons, have dropped in populated areas, residential properties, and roads, damaging cars and homes.


Pro/con resources

Pro Resources


Con Resources


References:

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