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Responding to Concerns about Wind Energy. Sean Whittaker, P.Eng Policy Director, Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) August 14, 2007. Overview. About CanWEA Our activities and membership Status of wind in Canada Current and projected installed capacity Addressing concerns about wind

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Responding to Concerns about Wind Energy


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    1. Responding to Concernsabout Wind Energy Sean Whittaker, P.Eng Policy Director, Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) August 14, 2007

    2. Overview • About CanWEA • Our activities and membership • Status of wind in Canada • Current and projected installed capacity • Addressing concerns about wind • What concerns are raised by citizens and in the media? • What are the facts around each issue? • Putting it in context • Public perceptions of wind • Summary • References

    3. About CanWEA • More than 300 corporate members: Turbine Manufacturers - Both large: Vestas, GE, Siemens and small: AOC, PGE, Wenvor Component Manufacturers - e.g., DMI Industries, Marmen, Moventus, Xantrex, Hitachi, LM Glasfiber Suppliers - e.g., NTN, TM4, Hailo, Schaeffler Utilities - e.g., Hydro-Quebec, Manitoba Hydro, Nova Scotia Power, ENMAX Project Developers - e.g., VisionQuest/TransAlta, Brookfield, Ventus, Westman, Sequoia, Canadian Hydro, Joss Wind, EPCOR, Enbridge, Nexen, Suncor Service Providers - e.g., Helimax, GPCo, Phoenix Engineering, TetrES, Ortech Others - Colleges, NGOs, community groups

    4. About CanWEA • Our activities: • Provide information to our members, the general public, governments, the media etc. • Act as spokesperson for the industry • Develop and advocate for policies that favour wind development at the federal, provincial and municipal level • Provide conferences and workshops to facilitate info sharing and networking opportunities

    5. Status of Wind in Canada

    6. Global Wind Energy Snapshot • Wind in the world: • 1995: 4,800 MW of installed wind energy capacity • 2006: 74,000 MW of wind capacity = 22 million homes (15,200 MW were installed in 2005 alone) • 2010: at least 136,000 MW expected • A growing industry: • Fastest growing source of new electricity generation • More than $US 14 billion invested worldwide in 2005 • 150,000 people now work in the global wind energy industry

    7. Current installed capacity • Capacity installed as of July 2007 = 1,588 Megawatts (MW)= 0.6 % of national demand= 480,000 homes • Capacity installed in 2006 = 776 MW (new record) • Contracted / under construction = 2,700 MW

    8. Future Prospects for Wind in Canada • Provincial targets represent a minimum of 5,000 MW by 2010 and 10,000 MW by 2015: • Quebec – 4,000 MW by 2016 • Ontario – 5,000 MW by 2020 • Manitoba – 1,000 MW by 2016 • Alberta – 900 MW threshold to be removed • New Brunswick – 400 MW by 2016 • PEI – 200 MW by 2015 • Provinces such as BC and Alberta do not have formal targets but are both likely to be over 1,000 MW well before 2015

    9. 10,000 MW in 2015 150 • Means that wind will provide 3.7% of Canada’s electricity by 2015 • 10,000 MW of wind energy still only scratching the surface of Canada’s wind energy potential 4000 900 1000 200 330 2400 400 380 200

    10. Addressing concerns about wind

    11. What we see in the media • The good: • “That sound above St. Leon is wind blowing in money” - Winnipeg Free Press, March 2006 • “Answer's blowing in the wind”, Letter to the editor, WFP Aug 9 • The bad: • “Wind turbines causing trouble in rural areas: Sound of silence gone forever”, Winnipeg Free Press, July 18 • “Proposed wind farm blows up a storm in the Dacotah area”, Winnipeg Free Press, July 9 • The ugly: • “Opponents Complain Of High Cost, Inefficiency, Noise And Disruption Of Birds' Migration” - National Post, July 31

    12. Concerns around wind • The wind industry takes these very seriously: • Public concerns are understandable and they are to be expected with any technology that is new to the social, political and economic landscape • Key is to ensure that good decisions are made on good information … and good science • Can’t label everyone that raises concern as a “NIMBY” • Important to distinguish between: • Fact and fiction • Quantitative (science-based) and qualitative (judgement-based) issues

    13. The Issues • Audible sound • Low frequency sound (“infrasound”) • Environmental impacts (birds and bats) • Property values • Impacts on agricultural practices • Visual impacts • Setback distances • Interference with telecommunications • Reliability • Economics

    14. Audible sound • What concerns are raised: • “Turbines emit a horrendous noise that makes it impossible to live anywhere near them” • What we know: • Wind turbines do produce sound (“swoosh” of blades) • Actual sound level is influenced by many factors including the type of turbine, wind speed, surrounding topography • How we address these concerns: • Projects must meet regulatory requirements for sound • All wind projects undergo detailed sound modeling • Best Practices based on sound at receptor as function of wind speed: 40 dBA at 4 m/s rising to 53 dBA at 11 m/s • Acceptable separation distances for sound are generally 300 to 600 m (can be less for participating landowners)

    15. Infrasound and Amplitude Modulation • What concerns are raised: • “Low frequency sound causes health problems” • What we know: • Peer-reviewed studies indicates that levels produced are similar to ambient levels prevalent in the natural environment and below levels known to have an impact on human health. • Comprehensive study in the U.K. looked at 133 windfarms - concluded that “despite press articles to the contrary, the incidence of windfarm noise and AM in the UK is low.” • Study also found that industrial complaints occur 10,000 - 100,000 times more frequently • How we address these concerns: • Present peer-reviewed facts on subject (at this time, there is little scientific basis to support allegations of negative impacts on human health or the environment)

    16. Environmental impacts (avian) • What concerns are raised: • “Wind turbines are a major threat to birds and bats” • What we know: • Wind turbines can potentially have impacts on birds and bats through collisions and habitat disruption • Impact is much less than that of buildings, house cats or the climatic changes that are impacting many bird habitats. • The National Audubon Society: “On balance, Audubon strongly supports wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming” • Limited number of cases of high bat mortality at wind farms; the causes are not yet fully understood • How we address these concerns: • The key is proper siting and understanding avian behaviour • Wind farms must get approval from Federal and Provincial environmental assessment processes • Industry working with Bat Conservation International to better understand impacts on bats

    17. Property Values • What concerns are raised: • “Wind turbines will reduce the value of homes in the vicinity” • What we know: • Issue has been studied more in the U.S. than Canada (simply because there is more historical data) • Some studies show property values increasing and others show them declining • Study by Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) in the U.S. was one of the most comprehensive – it found: • “no evidence that property values decreased as a result of wind farms […] for the great majority of projects the property values actually rose more quickly in the view shed than they did in the comparable community. Moreover, values increased faster in the view shed after the projects came online than they did before." • How we address these concerns: • CanWEA undertaking a project of similar scope looking at Canadian installations

    18. Impacts on agricultural practices • What concerns are raised: • “Wind turbines interfere with crop dusters and otherwise disrupt how farmers use their land” • What we know: • Turbines only occupy 5% of the land, and cattle often graze up to the base of the turbines • Extra income from turbines helps support agricultural activities (wind is supported by groups such as John Deere and various agriculture federations) • Some have claimed that turbines amount to “no fly zones” – this is patently false according to Transport Canada • How we address these concerns: • Providing information to farmers and developers • Wind developers need to act proactively with farmers and crop dusters to facilitate crop dusting when and where appropriate

    19. Impacts on agricultural practices

    20. Visual Impacts • What concerns are raised: • “Wind turbines will damage the landscape” • What we know: • “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” • Early consultation and engagement are key – issue is often tied to concerns around property value • There are many tools available to assist a promoter and community in designing a wind farm to minimize visual impacts, and preserve certain viewscapes • Developer can shift turbine location to suit community wishes (obviously, to a point) • How we address these concerns: • This is project-specific and entirely qualitative • Encourage early and frequent consultations between developers and communities

    21. Setback Distances • What concerns are raised: • “Setbacks of one to two kilometers are needed between turbines and dwellings to ensure they are not a nuisance” • What we know: • Setbacks between turbines and dwellings should be based on sound levels (generally acceptable: 300 – 600 metres) • Setbacks between turbines and roads / property lines should be based on safety – e.g. ice shedding or turbine failure (generally acceptable: blade length + 10 m) • How we address these concerns: • Currently developing a position on setbacks in Ontario – it is generally considered that this will form the basis for a national standard • Need to work with municipalities and municipal associations to ensure that setbacks are based on Best Practices

    22. Interference with telecommunications • What concerns are raised: • “Wind turbines interfere with radar and television systems” • What we know: • In certain circumstances, wind turbines can negatively affect radio, telecommunications, radar or seismoacoustic systems within a certain distance of the turbines • Must ensure sufficient setbacks from these systems prior to project construction – mitigation measures are possible • Very few documented cases of interference with home TV or telephone reception • How we address these concerns: • CanWEA and the Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) issued guidelines to help determine, during project design stage, where interference may occur

    23. Reliability • What concerns are raised: • “Wind energy is an intermittent energy source that we cannot count on as part of a reliable electricity system” • What we know: • Although the output of one turbine varies, the output of several wind farms over a wide geographic area is consistent • Wind farms must adhere to grid codes that ensure they contribute to overall grid stability and reliability • Wind is a great match for hydro: hydro benefits wind in short term, and wind benefits hydro in long term • Countries like Denmark, Spain and Germany are now able to obtain 20%, 8% and 6% (respectively) of their electricity from wind energy. • How we address these concerns: • Work with utilities on grid codes and wind integration studies • Sharing utility experience and knowledge gainedfrom grid integration studies

    24. Economics • What concerns are raised: • “Wind energy is much more expensive than other generation sources” • “Wind energy receives undue subsidies from government” • What we know: • Current prices range from 8 to 11 cents per kWh for large wind projects (greater than 10 MW) - already cost-effective in comparison with certain conventional generation sources • Wind’s costs are expected to go down while the costs of other technologies (e.g., coal / gas) are expected to go up • Wind can be built quickly and incrementally • All technologies are subsidised but in different forms (e.g., tax breaks) • How we address these concerns: • Provide information on full life-cycle environmental impact cost pricing of wind and other technologies • Providing info on current wind pricing

    25. Putting it into perspective

    26. Public perceptions of wind • Ontario survey (2007, Innovative Research Group ) • 89% of respondents who live within one mile of wind farms support its development • Support increases the closer one is to a proposed or operating turbine • Key concern was impact on property values • British Columbia survey (2005, BC Hydro) • 94% of the province’s population supports further wind development • Quebec survey (2007, Enerview) • Only 5% of Quebecers were opposed to wind development in the province.

    27. What we can learn from this • Wind continues to enjoy high public support across the country • Wind acceptance tends to increase with familiarity • Relative % of people opposed does not change, but absolute numbers do as more projects come on-line • The most vocal opposition tends to come from small, well-organised groups • The “silent majority” support wind – particularly landowners and farmers in rural, agricultural areas • All concerns expressed must be treated as legitimate and then tested against scientific information and peer reviewed facts

    28. Summary

    29. Summary • Concerns (and misperceptions) are inevitable • Relatively new technology to the landscape • In absence of facts, misperceptions grow easily • Debate on wind is a good thing • Need to base decisions on solid, peer-reviewed facts • In many cases, the real concern is hidden (e.g. visual impact concerns stem from worries around property value) • Open communications can resolve many issues • Concerns often linked to “getting used to wind” • Familiarity breeds comfort • Industry’s responsibility • CanWEA and members working to establish sound basis for debate, and creating communications toolsto help “fill the void”

    30. A final thought … “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” • Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 - 1860)

    31. References • Audible sound • “Wind Turbines and Sound: Review and Best Practice Guidelines”, HGC Engineering, February 2007 - http://www.canwea.ca/Environmental_Issues.cfm • CanWEA Fact Sheet: “Visual and sound - The sights and sounds of wind” http://www.canwea.ca/Fact_Sheets_eng.cfm • Infrasound and amplitude modulation • “Research into Aerodynamic Modulation of Wind Turbine Noise”, University of Salford, UK, July 2007 - http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file40570.pdf • “Wind Turbines and Infrasound”, HGC Engineering, Nov 2006, http://www.canwea.ca/Environmental_Issues.cfm

    32. References • Environmental impacts (avian) • “Wind Turbines and Birds: A Guidance Document for Environmental Assessment - Final Document and Recommended Protocols for Monitoring Impacts of Wind Turbines on Birds”, Canadian Wildlife Service, http://www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/publications/eval/index_e.cfm • CanWEA Fact Sheet: Wildlife: Birds, bats and wind energy http://www.canwea.ca/Fact_Sheets_eng.cfm • Interference with telecommunications • “Technical Information on the Assessment of the Potential Impact of Wind Turbines on Radio Communication, Radar and Seismoacoustic Systems”, Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) and CanWEA, April 2007 http://www.canwea.ca/Standards_and_Technical.cfm

    33. References • Property Values: • "The Effect Of Wind Development On Local Property Values“ Renewable Energy Policy Project, May 2003 - http://www.crest.org/articles/static/1/binaries/wind_online_final.pdf • Reliability: • See materials prepared by the Utility Wind Interest Group (UWIG): http://www.uwig.org/opimpactsdocs.html