Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bird deaths and ignorance

The big story of the day contains, as it so often does, nonsense from the Canadian Wind Industry - which I'd like to address, so...

Study calls for 18-km turbine setback | John Miner, London Free Press
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a standard that wind farms not be located within five kilometres of the shoreline. The Nature Conservancy recommends eight kilometres. The new evidence points to an 18-kilometre zone as appropriate, Hutchins said.
“These birds don’t just belong to Canada and the United States, they are a shared resource and they are worth billions of dollars,” Hutchins said, pointing to their role in controlling pests, pollinating crops and dispersing seed. “We can’t afford to lose these animals,” he said.
Ontario doesn’t restrict the proximity of wind turbines in relation to the Great Lakes, but does require wind farm developers to monitor bird and bat deaths for three years. For bats the acceptable mortality level is 10 per wind turbine each year, while the limit for birds is 14 birds annually per turbine.
Beyond those levels, the wind farm company may be required to take mitigating action.
Data released last month indicated wind turbines in Ontario in 2015 killed 14,140 birds, mainly songbirds, and 42,656 bats, including several species on Ontario’s endangered species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife radar study found that migrating birds concentrate along the shorelines to refuel and rest before crossing the lakes. The researchers also found the birds make broad-scale flights along the shorelines to explore wind conditions and orient themselves for migration.
Brandy Giannetta, Ontario regional director for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said wind farm developers are attracted to the areas close to the Great Lakes because they provide the most consistent winds.
The industry recognizes bird mortalities from wind farms can be a problem and is committed to the proper siting of turbines, she said. But Giannetta said the issue has to be looked at in context.
Wind energy is designed to respond to global warming, the biggest threat to birds and other wildlife...
Wind propagandist Gianetta is so very wrong in assessing threats, according to a new article in the journal "nature".
Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers:

There is a growing tendency for media reports about threats to biodiversity to focus on climate change.
Here we report an analysis of threat information gathered for more than 8,000 species. These data revealed a contrasting picture. We found that by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline are overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture (the production of food, fodder, fibre and fuel crops; livestock farming; aquaculture; and the cultivation of trees). 
Most of what is threatening species is unrelated to either industrial wind turbines or climate change, and all studies could have more comprehensive data, but... from the article:
All known bird species have been assessed...
...there are effective tools and approaches to alleviate harm caused by overexploitation and agricultural activities. These include the development and governance of sustainable harvest regimes; the enforcement of hunting regulations and no-take marine protected areas...
I suggest Industrial Wind Facilities are being constructed in Ontario that would not get built in any other wealthy country - where environmentally sensitive areas are meaningfully protected. If a reader has an example of a place like Amherst Island being overrun by turbines, please share.

The wind industry's Gianetta also implies wind is doing something to reduce emissions in Ontario. I've long argued this is unlikely to be anything significant in the short term, and in the long run it's a variable intermittent generating source intended to push out low-emission nuclear, requiring a twinning with another source which is likely to be natural gas and therefore intended to raise emissions. More recently CanWEA procured a study, funded primarily by Canadian taxpayers, that showed two-third of what emission reductions did occur would be by exporting the output of electricity to displace generation from coal, and gas, generators in the United States.

The plan, of Toronto's politicians, is to disregard the natural world in Ontario, because wind polls well where it ain't located, in order to export the intermittent production (at a loss) to a country which protects the type of areas Ontario is forcing industrial wind turbines on.

That's the plan.

Rick at the Wellington Times had another powerful column this past week: The end of reason.
From Amherst Island, you can see the Lennox gas-fired generating station sitting idle most days.

... it seems odd that yet another gas-fired generating plant is emerging from the ground next to the mostly-idle Lennox station. It will add another 900 MW of generating capacity to a grid that clearly doesn’t need any more.

From Amherst Island, it must seem cruel. Within a couple of kilometres, there is enough unused power generating capacity to light millions of homes, yet island residents are being forced to give up their pastoral landscape— for the sake of an intermittent electricity source that nobody needs.
Rick missed an opportunity to call the gas-fired powered plant under construction by the name it was contracted as: the Oakville Generating Station.

The existent Lennox power station acts as essentially the province's emergency generating reserve - it had to go somewhere, and because it was designed to run on oil (it's now dual fuel capable), it made sense where it is.

Not so Oakville's generating station.

Not so Toronto's industrial wind turbines.
Wide swathes of reason and logic have been excluded in the consideration of renewable energy projects in Ontario.
To the extent that urban folks are even aware of what green energy policies are doing to places like Amherst Island, they console themselves by believing it is the cost of a clean energy future—that diminishing the lives of some rural communities is an acceptable trade-off for the warm feeling of doing better by the planet.
Yet these folks need to explain to Amherst Island residents how decimating their landscape, risking the survival of endangered species and filling the pockets of a developer with taxpayer dollars for an expensive power supply that nobody needs makes Ontario greener.

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