More Wind Turbine Syndrome madness

Many years ago, I was living and working in Tasmania on a number of research projects which saw me driving all over the State and getting to see the best that Tassie has to offer. I love the place.

Early on in my stint, I noticed as I drove up the Midland Highway, a number of old Eucalyptus trees standing alone in paddocks with sheets of tin wrapped around their bases looming a bit worse for wear. I mistakenly assumed the tin was placed on the trees to prevent cows from rubbing the bark off them. That was until I asked one particular farmer. He told me “the bloody possums are killing the trees.” I was reliably informed that this was a common thought amongst a number of farmers in the district. Apparently someone saw a few possums in a tree and then a month or two later the tree was looking sick. The possums hadn’t been seen there before and now the tree was sick. Logical? Yes. Correct? No.

The possibility that a few nectar slurping marsupials can kill a large gum tree through undetermined means does exist but the probability is close to zero. What is more likely is that these very old, remnant forest trees, now isolated and subject to a century or more of soil compaction, changed soil chemistry, nutrient deprivation and drought were simply pegging out. Any effect of possums likely negligible.

This sort of simple logic is what drives belief in “Wind Turbine Syndrome” or as I like to call it “NIMBY + fossil fuel funded misinformation syndrome”. I wasn’t going to do any more posts about this bullshit but sometimes the stupid burns so much I have to get it off my chest.

I have to thank Ketan for this retweet.

howgreen

I couldn’t resist. After all the other weird and whacky symptoms and effects attributed to wind turbines I’ve read about I resist one involving rodents in Denmark. So I followed the link and before reading, did a quick scroll and was horrified to see this image…

mink and baby

I thought “OH MY GOD!” Wind turbines are causing babies to be infested with ferrets! On reading though I was relieved that this wasn’t happening. It was just the equally implausible idea that wind turbines were causing spontaneous abortions in minks on a mink farm in Denmark as well as causing the rodents to attack and kill each other…allegedly.

I’m not going to bother explaining again that WTS has no basis in medical science and that infrasound is all around us (and produced by us) in levels greater than that caused by wind turbines. Feel free to search this blog for all that stuff. I’d like to look at a couple of other things…. like what could be the possible cause of the miscarriages and fighting in these rodents and the possible motivation for blaming wind turbines.

Something to note about this article is that it is very vague. It mentions veterinarians but does not provide any references to any official reports about the incident. The author does provide a link to a Danish blog that mentions the farmer and where his farm is and discusses his submission to a Danish parliamentary committee. The language in that article is very emotive and would appear to be written with a particular slant. It also doesn’t cite any official veterinarian reports, merely mentions “veterinarians”. The farmer himself, as reported, made claims that the politicians must all be deaf and in need of hearing aids and are “in the pocket” of the wind farm industry. On reading it I was given the impression of a crazy old farmer with NIMBY syndrome and an anti-green bent looking to blame someone for problems on his farm.

So, what could be the problem? Firstly, I’m not a mink expert, but just a little bit of reading the scientific literature reveals that minks are subject to a range of diseases and conditions including botulism, black leg,  septicemia, encephalitis, rabies, deafness, dwarfism, distemper, liver flukes and other parasites. Some of these diseases result in a range of abnormal behaviours including cannibalism and tailbiting. Of most interest though, is the possibility that these minks contracted Aleutian Disease. This disease is well documented (paywall) as causing spontaneous abortions in minks. Maybe that’s it?

This paper discusses the disease in Denmark. The part that I find particularly interesting comes from the very first lines of the abstract.

In Denmark Aleutian mink disease (AMD) is a reportable disease with law enforced annual screening of all mink farms. Furthermore, all mink moved between farms have to be tested negative for AMD before moving. If more than 3 seropositive animals are found by counter current immune electrophoresis (CIEP), the farm is regarded as AMD infected according to the legislation.

That would be a real bummer for a mink farmer in Denmark with a dislike of politicians. How much easier to blame those awful wind turbines? Just saying.

So what about the Wind Turbine Syndrome blog? It has Nina Pierpont listed on its header. She is a medical doctor  who is the architect of “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, which has no basis in medical science. As far as I can tell Pierpont has never published a medical or scientific paper on any subject.

The contact details for the blog are for someone from the World Council for Nature. While on the surface, many of their “concerns” seem noble, I find it odd that they claim to be all about protecting the natural environment but don’t see fit to mention climate change. It is the elephant in the room when it comes to ecology and the environment. They do however not like any forms of renewable energy. On the surface it is a very very strange ideological position to take. Perhaps they are one of these strange “God’s will” mobs? I don’t know.

But back to the article in question. It relies heavily on references from the Waubra Foundation. Sourcewatch has a comprehensive discussion about them and I urge you to read it all. I will sum it up though. They don’t live anywhere near Waubra, spread misinformation about wind power, actively lobby against it in Australia, are funded by fossil fuel interests and have very close associations with conservative politicians and a far right-wing fossil fuel funded “thinktank”. Can anyone say “vested interests”?

In conclusion, what we have here is……well….I’ll leave it to my readers to decide.

 

 

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The Monckton Files: A Hero Has Fallen!

uknowispeaksense:

pfffttt. I can imagine any letter of his Lordship’s sent to a university would end up stuck on a tearoom fridge for everyone to chuckle at. For Willis to grovel so publicly to his Lordship is vomit-inducing sycophanticy of the highest order and really speaks volumes to his judgment about anything. Monckton is an idiot.

Originally posted on Climate Asylum:

Hang around the Watt’s Up With That? blog for any length of time, and it will become apparent that His Lordship, Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, is all but worshipped by many of the regulars there.  No matter how absurd Monckton’s intellectual flagellations, Anthony Watts will post them, and hordes of credulous commenters will heap adulation upon His Lordship.  One of Monckton’s long-time fans is Willis Eschenbach–construction manager, climate hobbyist, and frequent contributor to both the blog and the Heartland disinformation conference.  Willis, unfortunately, learned what happens if you express strong disagreement with anything Monckton says, i.e., Monckton threatens to sue you.  Yes, Monckton has turned yet another corner, and has begun threatening his fellow climate change contrarians, in addition to the typical academics and reporters.  Witness poor Willis begging his fallen hero to reconsider!

Christopher, please, I implore you as a friend, cease with…

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Australia will pay dearly for repealing its carbon tax – environment – 18 July 2014 – New Scientist

We all know it and are struggling to understand the absolute blind lunacy of this backward, elitist, tea party government.  Abbott is basically repaying the debt he owes to the billionaires that bought him. There is nothing like setting up your own economic future at the expense of every future generation. I can only hope now that future historians will discuss Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey and Greg Hunt truthfully and honestly ensuring that their descendents are shamed beyond belief.

 

Australia will pay dearly for repealing its carbon tax – environment – 18 July 2014 – New Scientist.

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100% renewables and a higher standard of living in a developing country.

We are often told by various idiots that burning coal is the cheapest form of electricity and that if we move away from it, poor people in developing countries will suffer. Well, I wonder what they think about Costa Rica moving to 100% renewables and supplying electricity to people at a fraction of the cost of traditional sources? Read that again if you need to. That’s right, a developing country is showing it is economically feasible to produce electricity from 100% renewables while lifting the standard of living of its people. Read about it here.

$1 bin geothermal project takes Costa Rica closer to 100% renewables.

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Qld electricity providers trying to block solar from grid, lobby group says

Following from my last post about how worthless coal has become in Queensland comes this story from Eric Tlozek at the ABC.

Australia’s peak solar power body fears Queensland’s electricity companies are trying to put people off installing new solar systems.

The Australian Solar Council has criticised moves by Ergon and Energex to encourage new customers to install smaller solar systems that do not feed electricity back into the power grid.

Ergon and Energex said the changes, which included new rules about installing systems that feed-in power, would help them manage the detrimental impact of solar on their power networks.

“These new rules will help avoid many of the costs associated with upgrading Ergon’s network to cope with increasing numbers of these systems – costs that are ultimately borne by all electricity customers,” Ergon chief executive Ian McLeod said.

“In some cases, customers have their applications to install PV (photovoltaic) systems on constrained sections of the network downsized, unless they are prepared to pay for an upgrade to the network.

“The new standards potentially give them another option of installing a PV system of their preferred size that does not export power back into the grid.”

We’re seeing a tremendous amount of people inquiring weekly that they want to get away from utilities to live on their own systems.

Solar installer Brian Cooke

 

But John Grimes from the Australian Solar Council said he believed the power companies were trying to limit solar uptake.

“There’s a very small number of instances where there are technical issues caused by solar uptake, but they are a tiny fraction of a per cent,” Mr Grimes said.

“Instead of dealing with the technical issues that arise, they’re using a sledgehammer to try and block solar from the grid altogether.”

The uptake of solar energy in Australia, particularly in Queensland, has been huge over the past five years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said solar generation output rose by 58 per cent to 2,700 gigawatt hours (GWh), equal to about 1.3 per cent of electricity consumption, in 2012-13.

Renewable energy advocates say it is now at 3.4GW – 1.1GW of which is in Queensland.

They also believe any moves by energy companies to limit the growth of solar will lead to so-called grid defections, where people install solar and batteries and disconnect from the network.

“By trying to stop people from using solar, the unintended consequence is that people are more likely to go solar and leave the grid much quicker than they otherwise would have,” Mr Grimes said.

 

Price of solar has come down, but not batteries: installer

Solar installer Brian Cooke specialises in systems that allow households to generate all their own electricity.

He said poor battery technology was limiting the ability of people to go “off the grid”.

“The price of solar has come down dramatically but the other associated cost of batteries, which is the other major cost, is not really coming down,” Mr Cooke said.

However that has not stopped the growth in people looking to become self-sufficient.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of people inquiring weekly that they want to get away from utilities to live on their own systems,” Mr Cooke said.

“The amount of inquiries we’re getting now… more and more people would be looking at doing it.”

The ABS said only 0.2 per cent of Australian households were not connected to mains power.

One of those belongs to renewable energy advocate Doone Wyborn, who disconnected from the power grid two years ago when he and his partner moved to a rural property in northern New South Wales.

“Batteries are the biggest problem but the solar panels themselves have come down so much in price over the last few years that in many cases you’re better off having a solar system, even if you’re living in the city,” he said.

“Our solar system can easily cope with all the energy requirements of a relatively efficient house, a small one, in fact we’ve got more than we need from the system that we have.”

Original story here

 

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Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete

from Giles Parkinson at the Guardian

As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over.

Rooftop solar panels

In a solar-driven energy democracy, even free coal has no value. Photograph: AAP

Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.

For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.

That’s not supposed to happen at lunchtime. Daytime prices are supposed to reflect higher demand, when people are awake, office building are in use, factories are in production. That’s when fossil fuel generators would normally be making most of their money.

The influx of rooftop solar has turned this model on its head. There is 1,100MW of it on more than 350,000 buildings in Queensland alone (3,400MW on 1.2m buildings across the country). It is producing electricity just at the time that coal generators used to make hay (while the sun shines).

The impact has been so profound, and wholesale prices pushed down so low, that few coal generators in Australia made a profit last year. Hardly any are making a profit this year. State-owned generators like Stanwell are specifically blaming rooftop solar.

Tony Abbott, the prime minister, likes to say that Australia is a land of cheap energy and he’s half right. It doesn’t cost much to shovel a tonne of coal into a boiler and generate steam and put that into a turbine to generate electricity.

The problem for Australian consumers (and voters) comes in the cost of delivery of those electrons – through the transmission and distribution networks, and from retail costs and taxes.

This is the cost which is driving households to take up rooftop solar, in such proportions that the level of rooftop solar is forecast by the government’s own modellers, and by private groups such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance, to rise sixfold over the next decade. Households are tipped to spend up to $30bn on rooftop modules.

Last week, the WA Independent market Operator forecast that 75% of detached and semi detached dwellings, and 90% of commercial businesses could have rooftop solar by 2023/24.

The impact on Queensland’s markets last week is one of the reasons why utilities, generators and electricity retailers in particular want to slow down the rollout of solar.

The gyrations of wholesale power prices are rarely reflected in consumer power bills. But let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?

The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to com down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower.

Coal, of course, will never be free. And the rapid uptake of rooftop solar – dubbed the democratisation of energy – is raising the biggest challenge to the centralised model of generation since electricity systems were established more than a century ago.

Network operators in Queensland, realising the pent up demand for rooftop solar, are now allowing customers to install as much as they want, on the condition that they don’t export surplus electricity back to the grid.

Households and businesses have little incentive to export excess power. They don’t get paid much for it anyway. Ergon Energy admits that this will likely encourage households to install battery storage.

The next step, of course, is for those households and businesses to disconnect entirely from the grid. In remote and regional areas, that might make sense, because the cost of delivery is expensive and in states such as Queensland and WA is massively cross-subsidised by city consumers.

The truly scary prospect for coal generators, however, is that this equation will become economically viable in the big cities. Investment bank UBS says this could happen as early as 2018.

The CSIRO, in its Future Grid report, says that more than half of electricity by 2040 may be generated, and stored, by “prosumers” at the point of consumption. But they warn that unless the incumbent utilities can adapt their business models to embrace this change, then 40% of consumers will quit the grid.

Even if the network operators and retailers do learn how to compete – from telecommunication companies, data and software specialists like Google and Apple, and energy management experts – it is not clear how centralised, fossil-fuel generation can adapt. In an energy democracy, even free coal has no value.

Original article here.

 

 

 

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New Global Warming Gases Found

Originally posted on Climate Change Reports:

Scientists Discover Three New Global Warming Gases - Comparison of air samples has revealed three new global warming gases and the evidence suggests they are man-made, reports Responding To Climate Change. Global warming gases have 3 or more atoms in their molecules, which allow them to trap heat that fuels global warming.

Industrial pollution has probably contributed many man-made heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, but not necessarily in quantities large enough to significantly contribute to global warming for most gases, but what of their aggregated impact as a threat?

OO Threat from new gases found in air

Join the swelling numbers of voters TELLING Congressthey’ll vote for Clean Energy candidates here: http://signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99?source=c.em.cp&r_by=487176 . This is an ongoing campaign (the next Congressional election is this year!) so please, spread the word. It’s our way of telling Congress that a strong clean energy voting bloc is out there. This…

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