Wind Power & Health Issues

The Wall Street Journal featured an interesting op-ed this week about the side effects of wind turbines. The piece describes some of the health problems — sleep deprivation, memory loss, headaches — that individuals who live near wind farms are experiencing.

“Lawsuits that focus on noise pollution are now pending in Maine, Pennsylvania and New Zealand. In New Zealand, more than 750 complaints have been lodged against a large wind project near Makara since it began operating last April. The European Platform Against Windfarms lists 388 groups in 20 European countries. Canada has more than two dozen antiwind groups. In the U.S. there are about 100 such groups, and state legislators in Vermont recently introduced a bill that will require wind turbines be located no closer than 1.25 miles from any residence. In theory, big wind projects should only be built in desolate areas. But the reality is that many turbines are being installed close to homes. [snip…] ” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704240004575085631551312608.html?KEYWORDS=wind+turbines

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Wind Power & Health Issues

  1. ryantbragg

    Wow, some folks will b@#$% about anything.

    I don’t mean to imply that the noise from these turbines is insignificant- anyone who has seen the 57-81 foot long blades rolling down I-35 on flatbed semis knows that they are certainly a force to be reckoned with. (Detailed specs on Mitsubishi’s turbines here)

    That said, I fail to see how the noise pollution is any different than living next to an airport, train tracks, major highway, or any other part of normal infrastructure. I’ve lived next to all 3 and paid lower rent as a result, which was an economic tradeoff I was happy to make. I was unaware that any noxious odors were emitted from these machines, but again, I can’t discern any significant variance in that versus living near a dairy farm, chemical plant, or animal composting facility (all of which smell terrible, if you haven’t experienced them).

    With the advent of commercial feasibility for wind-based power generation, we have a real opportunity to displace a certain amount of our hydrocarbon-fueled generation with clean and renewable (though variable) generation. How is that any less important to us as a society than the ability to drive up I-35, take airline flights, or have milk with breakfast?

  2. abolhouse

    I agree with RyantBragg that we need to accept the noise and possible side effects of wind energy generation. I grew up with a Michigan State P0lice firing range in my backyard (and unfortunately learned to tune out gun shots) and now live flightpath (where I commonly have to stop phone conversations when I’m outside and wait for the plane to pass by).

    However, I have another bone to pick with this article. It says, “In theory, big wind projects should only be built in desolate areas. But the reality is that many turbines are being installed close to homes.” In my opinion, that is the best option because of the loss of efficiency from transmission. The US loses around 8.9% of the power transmitted by power lines (Annual Energy Review 2007). Moving the power generation closer reduces the distance the electricity has to travel and reduces losses.

    In fact, if your goal is to reduce transmission losses to nearly zero, you can install your own wind generation system in your home. To do so you should live in a location that has an average wind speed of 4.5 m/s and you should be comfortable with long term investments. (http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/small_wind_system_faqs.html) Aesthetically, I prefer power lines, but I would love the fossil fuel independence a giant wind turbine could afford me.

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