Why Are We Doing This? A Trove Of New Research Documents The Folly Of Renewable Energy Promotion

The advocacy for widespread growth in renewable energy (especially wind, solar, and biomass) usage has increasingly become the clarion call of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) movement.  And yet more and more published research documents the adverse effects of relying on renewables.

Image: Wasili Karbe, cropped from video here.

Over the course of the last year, at least 30 papers have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature detailing the fatuity of promoting renewable energy as a long-term “fix” for climate change mitigation.  A categorized list of these papers is provided below.

1. “More Renewables Mean Less Stable Grids”

Schäfer et al., 2018    “Multiple types of fluctuations impact the collective dynamics of power grids and thus challenge their robust operation.”
(press release)   More renewables mean less stable grids, researchers find …  [I]ntegrating growing numbers of renewable power installations and microgrids onto the grid can result in larger-than-expected fluctuations in grid frequency.”

2. Increasing Fossil Fuel Use (Natural Gas) Reduces Emissions More Than Increasing Wind/Solar Energy

Anderson et al., 2018     “Before considering the future, it is worth examining just how far we’ve already come without any federal CO2 regulation (for existing power plants) in the U.S. Figure 1 illustrates historical CO2 emissions and natural gas prices from 2005 through 2017 (estimated). During that period, emissions have declined from nearly 2.7 billion tons to approximately 1.9 billion tons (∼30%), while revealing a strong link to natural gas prices. To be sure, while other factors (such as renewable energy incentives) also had an impact, the clearest means by which to reduce CO2 emissions has been to reduce the cost of generating electricity with less CO2-emitting fuels (i.e., substituting natural gas for coal)So successful have market forces been under the existing regulatory framework to date that estimated 2017 CO2 emission levels are already at the CPP’s 2025 target(albeit without accounting for electricity demand growth between 2017 and 2025), well exceeding the AEO’s own Reference Case projections for 2025.”
Jewell et al., 2018     “Hopes are high that removing fossil fuel subsidies could help to mitigate climate change by discouraging inefficient energy consumption and leveling the playing field for renewable energy.Here we show that removing fossil fuel subsidies would have an unexpectedly small impact on global energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions and would not increase renewable energy use by 2030. Removing [fossil fuel] subsidies in most regions would deliver smaller emission reductions than the Paris Agreement (2015) climate pledges and in some regions global [fossil fuel] subsidy removal may actually lead to an increase in emissions, owing to either coal replacing subsidized oil and natural gas or natural-gas use shifting from subsidizing, energy-exporting regions to non-subsidizing, importing regions.”

3. Renewables Fail To Deliver: When Demand Is High, Generation Capacity Is Low

Cradden and McDermott, 2018     “Prolonged cold spells were experienced in Ireland in the winters of 2009–10 and 2010–11, and electricity demand was relatively high at these times, whilst wind generation capacity factors were low. Such situations can cause difficulties for an electricity system with a high dependence on wind energy.”

4. Renewable Energy Becomes More Costly The More It Is Deployed … Renewable Energy Expansion Ensures More Fossil Fuel Installation Is Necessary As Backup

Blazquez et al., 2018     “However, promoting renewables –in liberalized power markets– creates a paradox in that successful penetration of renewables could fall victim to its own success. With the current market architecture, future deployment of renewable energy will necessarily be more costly and less scalable. Moreover, transition towards a full 100% renewable electricity sector is unattainable. Paradoxically, in order for renewable technologies to continue growing their market share, they need to co-exist with fossil fuel technologies. … The paradox is that the same market design and renewables policies that led to current success become increasingly less successful in the future as the share of renewables in the energy mix grows. … Full decarbonization of a power sector that relies on renewable technologies alone, given the current design of these markets, is not possible as conventional technologies provide important price signals. Markets would collapse if the last unit of fossil fuel technologies was phased out. In the extreme (theoretical) case of 100 percent renewables, prices would be at the renewables marginal cost, equal to zero or even negative for long periods. These prices would not be capturing the system’s costs nor would they be useful to signal operation and investment decisions. The result would be a purely administered subsidy, i.e., a non-market outcome. This is already occurring in Germany as Praktiknjo and Erdmann [31] point out and is clearly an unstable outcome. Thus, non-dispatchable technologies need to coexist with fossil fuel technologies. This outcome makes it impossible for renewables policy to reach success, defined as achieving a specified level of deployment at the lowest possible cost. With volatile, low and even negative electricity prices, investors would be discouraged from entering the market and they would require more incentives to continue to operate.”
Marques et al., 2018     The installed capacity of wind power preserves fossil fuel dependency. … Electricity consumption intensity and its peaks have been satisfied by burning fossil fuels. … [A]s RES [renewable energy sources] increases, the expected decreasing tendency in the installed capacity of electricity generation from fossil fuels, has not been found. Despite the high share of RES in the electricity mix, RES, namely wind power and solar PV, are characterised by intermittent electricity generation.  … The inability of RES-I [intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar] to satisfy high fluctuations in electricity consumption on its own constitutes one of the main obstacles to the deployment of renewables. This incapacity is due to both the intermittency of natural resource availability, and the difficulty or even impossibility of storing electricity on a large scale, to defer generation.  As a consequence, RES [renewable energy sources] might not fully replace fossil sources …  In fact, the characteristics of electricity consumption reinforce the need to burn fossil fuels to satisfy the demand for electricity. Specifically, the ECA results confirm the substitution effect between the installed capacity of solar PV and fossil fuels. In contrast, installed wind power capacity has required all fossil fuels and hydropower to back up its intermittency in the long-run equilibrium. The EGA outcomes show that hydropower has been substituting electricity generation through NRES [non-renewable energy sources], but that other RES have needed the flexibility of natural gas plants, to back them up. … [D]ue to the intermittency phenomenon, the growth of installed capacity of RES-I [intermittent renewable energy sources – wind power] could maintain or increase electricity generation from fossil fuels.  … In short, the results indicate that the EU’s domestic electricity production systems have preserved fossil fuel generation, and include several economic inefficiencies and inefficiencies in resource allocation. … [A]n increase of 1% in the installed capacity of wind power provokes an increase of 0.26%, and 0.22% in electricity generation from oil and natural gas, respectively in the long-run.”

5. Biofuels – Declared Carbon-Neutral Renewables By The EU – Increase Emissions More Than Coal 

Sterman et al., 2018     [G]overnments around the world are promoting biomass to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Union declared biofuels to be carbon-neutral to help meet its goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020, triggering a surge in use of wood for heat and electricity (European Commission 2003, Leturcq 2014, Stupak et al 2007). … But do biofuels actually reduce GHG emissions? … [A]lthough wood has approximately the same carbon intensity as coal (0.027 vs. 0.025 tC GJ−1 of primary energy […]), combustion efficiency of wood and wood pellets is lower (Netherlands Enterprise Agency; IEA 2016). Estimates also suggest higher processing losses in the wood supply chain (Roder et al 2015). Consequently, wood-fired power plants generate more CO2 per kWh than coal. Burning wood instead of coal therefore creates a carbon debt—an immediate increase in atmospheric CO2 compared to fossil energy—that can be repaid over time only as—and if— NPP [net primary production] rises above the flux of carbon from biomass and soils to the atmosphere on the harvested lands. … Growth in wood supply causes steady growth in atmospheric CO2 because more CO2 is added to the atmosphere every year in initial carbon debt than is paid back by regrowth, worsening global warming and climate change. The qualitative result that growth in bioenergy raises atmospheric CO2 does not depend on the parameters: as long as bioenergy generates an initial carbon debt, increasing harvests mean more is ‘borrowed’ every year than is paid back. More precisely, atmospheric CO2 rises as long as NPP [net primary production] remains below the initial carbon debt incurred each year plus the fluxes of carbon from biomass and soils to the atmosphere. … [C]ontrary to the policies of the EU and other nations, biomass used to displace fossil fuels injects CO2 into the atmosphere at the point of combustion and during harvest, processing and transport. Reductions in atmospheric CO2 come only later, and only if the harvested land is allowed to regrow.”
Fanous and Moomaw, 2018     “These nations fail to recognize the intensity of CO2 emissions linked to the burning of biomass. The chemical energy stored in wood is converted into heat or electricity by way of combustion and is sometimes used for combined heat and power cogeneration. At the point of combustion, biomass emits more carbon per unit of heat than most fossil fuels. Due to the inefficiencies of biomass energy, bioenergy power plants emit approximately 65 percent more CO2, per MWH than modern coal plants, and approximately 285 percent more than natural gas combined cycle plantsFurthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that combustion of biomass generates gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions roughly equivalent to the combustion of fossil fuels. In the case of forest timber turned into wood pellets for bioenergy use, the IPCC further indicates that the process produces higher CO2 emissions than fossil fuels for decades to centuries.”

6. Biofuels “Use More Energy At A Higher Cost” And Produce More Air Pollution Than Fossil Fuels

Richardson and Kumar, 2017     “A growing human population creates a larger demand for food products and makes conservation of resources and increased efficiency of agricultural production more vital. … These results conclude that feed production systems are more energy efficient and less environmentally costly than corn-based ethanol. … [A]ccording to the findings of this study, biofuels, derived for the purpose of producing energy with little environmental impacts, actually use more energy at a higher environmental cost than the alternative crop use. As technology stands now, in terms of energy and environmental sustainability, the benefits of switching land uses to the production of corn-based transportation biofuels are not as favorable as continuing to produce corn for feed/food consumption.”
Emery et al., 2017     “Although climate change mitigation and energy security policies are generally expected to be compatible with air pollution and health cost reductions (McCollum et al., 2013), there is evidence that first-generation alternative fuels such as corn ethanol lead to higher health costs due to air pollution than conventional fuels [gasoline]  (Hill et al., 2009). … We find that life-cycle non-GHG air pollutant emissions, particularly NOX [nitrous oxides] and PM [particulates], are higher for corn ethanol and other biofuel blends than conventional petroleum fuels. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) increase by 9–50% per 100 km traveled for high-ethanol blends from corn grain and combined grain and stover feedstocks. NOX, PM [particulates], and SOX [sulfur dioxides] increase by 71–124% from corn grain and 56–110% from combined grain and stover, relative to conventional gasoline. Biodiesel blends show an increase of 1–11% (B20) and 4–55% (B100) in air pollution, with the largest increases in VOC [volatile organic compounds] and SOX [sulfur dioxides] emissions. … The total social costs of ethanol blends are higher than that of gasoline, due in part to higher life-cycle emissions of non-GHG pollutants and higher health and mortality costs per unit.”

7. Proximity To Wind Turbines Significantly Reduces Quality Of Life, Well-Being For Nearby Residents

Barry et al., 2018     “The findings indicate that residential proximity to wind turbines is correlated with annoyance and health-related quality of life measures. These associations differ in some respects from associations with noise measurements. Results can be used to support discussions between communities and wind-turbine developers regarding potential health effects of wind turbines.”
Krekel and Zerrahn, 2017     We show that the construction of wind turbines close to households exerts significant negative external effects on residential well-being … In fact, beyond unpleasant noise emissions (Bakker et al., 2012; McCunney et al., 2014) and impacts on wildlife (Pearce-Higgins et al., 2012; Schuster et al., 2015), most importantly, wind turbines have been found to have negative impacts on landscape aesthetics (Devine-Wright, 2005; Jobert et al., 2007; Wolsink, 2007). … We show that the construction of a wind turbine within a radius of 4,000 metres has a significant negative and sizeable effect on life satisfaction. For larger radii, no negative externalities can be detected.”
Gortsas et al., 2017     Infrasound, low frequency noise and soil vibrations produced by large wind turbines might disturb the comfort of nearby structures and residents. In addition repowering close to urban areas produces some fears to the nearby residents that the level of disturbance may increase. Due to wind loading, the foundation of a wind turbine interacts with the soil and creates micro-seismic surface waves that propagate for long distances and they are able to influence adversely sensitive measurements conducted by laboratories located far from the excitation point.”

8. “Renewable Energy Consumption Has A Negative Effect On Economic Growth”

Lee and Jung, 2018     “The results of the autoregressive distributed lag bounds test show that renewable energy consumption has a negative effect on economic growth, and the results of a vector error correction mechanism causality tests indicate a unidirectional relationship from economic growth to renewable energy consumption. The empirical results imply that economic growth is a direct driver expanding renewable energy use. In terms of policy implications, it is best for policy makers to focus on overall economic growth rather than expanding renewable energy to drive economic growth. … [O]ur result suggests that renewable energy policy should be implemented when the real GDP is enough large to overcome the negative impact from renewable energy, because the causality from economic growth to renewable energy consumption in the long run as one of our result is caused by both low productivity of renewable energy production and expansion of government-led renewable energy.”

9. Research: 100% Renewable Energy Is “Unattainable” In Reality – Decarbonization Is “Arguably Reckless”

Clack et al., 2017   The scenarios of [Jacobson et al., 2015, “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes”] can, at best, be described as a poorly executed exploration of an interesting hypothesis. The study’s numerous shortcomings and errors render it unreliable as a guide about the likely cost, technical reliability, or feasibility of a 100% wind, solar, and hydroelectric power system. It is one thing to explore the potential use of technologies in a clearly caveated hypothetical analysis; it is quite another to claim that a model using these technologies at an unprecedented scale conclusively shows the feasibility and reliability of the modeled energy system implemented by midcentury. From the information given by [Jacobson et al., 2015], it is clear that both hydroelectric power and flexible load have been modeled in erroneous ways and that these errors alone invalidate the study and its results.”
Heard et al., 2017     While many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are in fact feasible. Of the studies published to date, 24 have forecast regional, national or global energy requirements at sufficient detail to be considered potentially credible. We critically review these studies using four novel feasibility criteria for reliable electricity systems needed to meet electricity demand this century. [N]one of the 24 studies provides convincing evidence that these basic feasibility criteria can be met. Of a maximum possible unweighted feasibility score of seven, the highest score for any one study was four. … On the basis of this review, efforts to date seem to have substantially underestimated the challenge and delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways. … To date, efforts to assess the viability of 100% renewable systems, taking into account aspects such as financial cost, social acceptance, pace of roll-out, land use, and materials consumption, have substantially underestimated the challenge of excising fossil fuels from our energy supplies. This desire to push the 100%-renewable ideal without critical evaluation has ironically delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways. We argue that the early exclusion of other forms of technology from plans to decarbonize the global electricity supply is unsupportable, and arguably reckless. … The realization of 100% renewable electricity (and energy more broadly) appears diametrically opposed to other critical sustainability issues such as eradication of poverty, land conservation and reduced ecological footprints, reduction in air pollution, preservation of biodiversity, and social justice for indigenous people.”

10. Wealthy Countries Foist Social-Environmental Disruption From Wind, Solar Onto Poorer Countries 

Shakespear, 2018     “A trend was found, whereby developing countries tend to suffer the most socio-environmental disruption from material extraction for solar-panels and wind-turbines while exhibiting lower implementation of these technologies, and developed countries show opposite effects. This indicates that EUE [ecologically unequal exchange] effects constitute global solar-panel and wind-turbine systems, and that developed countries displace socio-environmental disruption from energy innovation onto developing countries. … [I]mplementation of solarpanels and wind-turbines tended to be the most prevalent within countries that suffer the least environmental and socio-economic consequences from the extraction of materials for these technologies. This effectively means that efforts to increase sustainability in relatively powerful countries via renewable energy implementation exacerbates unsustainable practices in the relatively less powerful countries that extract the minerals for these technologies.”

11. Wind Power Harming The Environment, Biosphere – Destroying Habitats, Endangering Rare Species 

Millon et al., 2018  (full paper)   Wind turbines impact bat activity, leading to high losses of habitat use … Island bats represent 60% of bat species worldwide and the highest proportion of terrestrial mammals on isolated islands, including numerous endemic and threatened species (Fleming and Racey, 2009). … We present one of the first studies to quantify the indirect impact of wind farms on insectivorous bats in tropical hotspots of biodiversity. Bat activity [New Caledonia, Pacific Islands, which hosts nine species of bat] was compared between wind farm sites and control sites, via ultrasound recordings at stationary points [A bat pass is defined as a single or several echolocation calls during a five second interval.] The activity of bent winged bats (Miniopterus sp.) and wattled bats (Chalinolobus sp.) were both significantly lower at wind turbine sites. The result of the study demonstrates a large effect on bat habitat use at wind turbines sites compared to control sites. Bat activity was 20 times higher at control sites compared to wind turbine siteswhich suggests that habitat loss is an important impact to consider in wind farm planning. …  Here, we provide evidence showing that two genera of insectivorous bat species are also threatened by wind farms.  … To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies quantifying the indirect negative impact of wind turbines on bat activity in the tropics. … The lower attractiveness of the foraging habitat under wind turbines, both in a tropical and in a temperate climate, indicates that the indirect impact of wind turbine is a worldwide phenomenon.”

Lopucki et al., 2018      “Living in habitats affected by wind turbines may result in an increase in corticosterone levels in ground dwelling animals… Environmental changes and disturbance factors caused by wind turbines may act as potential stressors for natural populations of both flying and ground dwelling animal species. The physiological stress response results in release of glucocorticoid hormones. … The common vole showed a distinct physiological response − the individuals living near the wind turbines had a higher level of corticosterone [physiological stress affecting regulation of energy, immune reactions]. … This is the first study suggesting impact of wind farms on physiological stress reactions in wild rodent populations. Such knowledge may be helpful in making environmental decisions when planning the development of wind energy and may contribute to optimization of conservation actions for wildlife.”
Ferrão da Costa et al., 2018     “According to a review by Lovich and Ennen (2013), the construction and operation of wind farms have both potential and known impacts on terrestrial vertebrates, such as: (i) increase in direct mortality due to traffic collisions; (ii) destruction and modification of the habitat, including road development, habitat fragmentation and barriers to gene flow; (iii) noise effects, visual impacts, vibration and shadow flicker effects from turbines; (iv) electromagnetic field generation; (v) macro and microclimate change; (vi) predator attraction; and (vii) increase in fire risks. … Helldin et al. (2012) also highlighted that the development of road networks associated with wind farms could promote increased access for traffic related to recreation, forestry, agriculture and hunting. The consequence, particularly on remote places, is the increase in human presence, affecting large mammals via significant disturbance, habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. These negative effects are expected to be particularly relevant for species that are more sensitive to human presence and activities, such as large carnivores. Large carnivores, such as the wolf, bear, lynx or wolverine, tend to avoid areas that are regularly used by humans and—especially for breeding—show a preference for rugged and undisturbed areas (Theuerkauf et al. 2003; George and Crooks 2006; May et al. 2006; Elfstrom et al. 2008; Sazatornil et al. 2016), which are often chosen for wind power development (Passoni et al. 2017). … Results have shown that the main impact of wind farms on wolves is the induced reduction on breeding site fidelity and reproductive rates. These effects, particularly when breeding sites shift to more unsuitable areas, may imply decreasing survival and pack viability in the short term.”
Watson et al., 2018     “The global potential for wind power generation is vast, and the number of installations is increasing rapidly. We review case studies from around the world of the effects on raptors of wind-energy development. Collision mortality, displacement, and habitat loss have the potential to cause population-level effects, especially for species that are rare or endangered.”
Aschwanden et al., 2018    The extrapolated number of collisions was 20.7 birds/wind turbine (CI-95%: 14.3–29.6) for 8.5 months. Nocturnally migrating passerines, especially kinglets (Regulus sp.), represented 55% of the fatalities. 2.1% of the birds theoretically exposed to a collision (measured by radar at the height of the wind turbines) were effectively colliding.”
Naylor, 2018     “While wind energy provides a viable solution for emission reductions, it comes at an environmental cost, particularly for birds. As wind energy grows in popularity, its environmental impacts are becoming more apparent. Recent studies indicate that wind power has negative effects on proximate wildlife. These impacts can be direct—collision fatalities—and indirect—habitat loss (Fargione et al. 2012; Glen et al. 2013). Negative impacts associated with operational wind farms include collision mortalities from towers or transmission lines and barotrauma for bats. Habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as avoidance behavior, are also consequences resulting from wind farm construction and related infrastructure. The potential harm towards protected and migratory bird species are an urgent concern, especially for wind farms located along migratory flyways. In terms of mortality, wind turbines kill an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 birds, annually (Smallwood 2013). The high speed at which the fan wings move and the concentration of turbines create a gauntlet of hazards for birds to fly through. … [T]he height of most wind turbines aligns with the altitude many bird species fly at (Bowden 2015). Birds of prey— raptors—are of particular concern because of their slow reproductive cycles and long lifespans relative to other bird species (Kuvlesky 2007).”
Lange et al., 2018     “Results from our surface water extractions and aerial surveys suggest that the wind farm has negatively affected redheads through altered hydrology and disturbance displacement. Our surface water extraction analysis provides compelling evidence that the local hydrology has been greatly affected by the construction of the wind farm. … Our results suggest the occurrence of direct habitat loss and disturbance displacement of redheads from the wind farm along the lower Texas coast. Although our study was directed solely toward redheads, it is likely that this wind farm has affected other species that use these wetlands or migrate along the lower Texas coast (Contreras et al. 2017). Studies in Europe investigating the effects on waterfowl by wind turbines have reported similar results, showing that turbines have likely compromised foraging opportunities for waterfowl through disturbance displacement (Larsen and Madsen 2000).”
Chiebáo, 2018     “I studied the large-scale movements of white-tailed eagles during the dispersal period, assessing their space use in relation to the distribution of existing and proposed wind farms across Finland. I found that a breeding pair holding a territory closer to an installation has a lower probability to breed successfully when compared to a pair from a territory lying farther away. Such lower probability may in part reflect a harmful interaction between the eagles and wind turbines in the form of collision mortality, to which the adults appear to be particularly vulnerable during the breeding season. Regarding the post-fledging period, I found that the probability of a young eagle approaching a wind turbine decreases sharply as the turbine is installed at increasing distances from the nest.”
Frick et al., 2017     “Large numbers of migratory bats are killed every year at wind energy facilities. However, population-level impacts are unknown as we lack basic demographic information about these species. We investigated whether fatalities at wind turbines could impact population viability of migratory bats, focusing on the hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), the species most frequently killed by turbines in North America. Using expert elicitation and population projection models, we show that mortality from wind turbines may drastically reduce population size and increase the risk of extinction. For example, the hoary bat population could decline by as much as 90% in the next 50 years if the initial population size is near 2.5 million bats and annual population growth rate is similar to rates estimated for other bat species (λ = 1.01). Our results suggest that wind energy development may pose a substantial threat to migratory bats in North America. If viable populations are to be sustained, conservation measures to reduce mortality from turbine collisions likely need to be initiated soon. Our findings inform policy decisions regarding preventing or mitigating impacts of energy infrastructure development on wildlife.”
Hammerson et al, 2017      “Conservationists are increasingly concerned about North American bats due to the arrival and spread of the White-nose Syndrome (WNS) disease and mortality associated with wind turbine strikes. To place these novel threats in context for a group of mammals that provides important ecosystem services, we performed the first comprehensive conservation status assessment focusing exclusively on the 45 species occurring in North America north of Mexico. Although most North American bats have large range sizes and large populations, as of 2015, 18–31% of the species were at risk (categorized as having vulnerable, imperiled, or critically imperiled NatureServe conservation statuses) and therefore among the most imperiled terrestrial vertebrates on the continent.”
Vasilakis et al., 2017     Numerous wind farms are planned in a region hosting the only cinereous vulture population in south-eastern Europe. We combined range use modelling and a Collision Risk Model (CRM) to predict the cumulative collision mortality for cinereous vulture under all operating and proposed wind farms. Four different vulture avoidance rates were considered in the CRM.  Cumulative collision mortality was expected to be eight to ten times greater in the future (proposed and operating wind farms) than currently (operating wind farms), equivalent to 44% of the current population (103 individuals) if all proposals are authorized (2744 MW). Even under the most optimistic scenario whereby authorized proposals will not collectively exceed the national target for wind harnessing in the study area (960 MW), cumulative collision mortality would still be high (17% of current population) and likely lead to population extinction.”

12. Wind Turbine Blade Waste Disposal A Growing Ecological Nightmare

Liu and Barlow, 2017     “Wind energy has developed rapidly over the last two decades to become one of the most promising and economically viable sources of renewable energy. Although wind energy is claimed to provide clean renewable energy without any emissions during operation, but it is only one side of the coin. The blades, one of the most important components in the wind turbines, made with composite, are currently regarded as unrecyclable.  With the first wave of early commercial wind turbine installations now approaching their end of life, the problem of blade disposal is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future. … The research indicates that there will be 43 million tonnes of blade waste worldwide by 2050 with China possessing 40% of the waste, Europe 25%, the United States 16% and the rest of the world 19%.”
Ramirez-Tejeda et al., 2017     “Globally, more than seventy thousand wind turbine blades were deployed in 2012 and there were 433 gigawatts (GW) of wind installed capacity worldwide at the end of 2015. Moreover, the United States’ installed wind power capacity will need to increase from 74 GW to 300 GW3 to achieve its 20% wind production goal by 2030.  … The wind turbine blades are designed to have a lifespan of about twenty years, after which they would have to be dismantled due to physical degradation or damage beyond repair. … Estimations have suggested that between 330,000 tons/year by 2028 and 418,000 tons/year by 2040 of composite material from blades will need to be disposed worldwide. That would be equivalent to the amount of plastics waste generated by four million people in the United States in 2013. This anticipated increase in blade manufacturing and disposal will likely lead to adverse environmental consequences. … Despite its negative consequences, landfilling has so far been the most commonly utilized wind turbine blade disposal method. …  Landfilling is especially problematic because its high resistance to heat, sunlight, and moisture means that it will take hundreds of years to degrade in a landfill environment. The wood and other organic material present in the blades would also end up in landfills, potentially releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and other volatile organic compounds to the environment.”

via NoTricksZone


July 9, 2018 at 10:38AM

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