Tag Archives: wind turbine

Right, CBS, Wind and Solar Facilities Do Produce a Lot of Hard to Manage Waste

From ClimateRealism

By H. Sterling Burnett

CBS News published a story, titled “A black eye for green energy? Renewable energy growth brings mounting waste challenge,” detailing the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible, to recycle many of the components of wind and solar projects. This is true. Those who designed wind turbines and solar panels, the developers erecting them, and the federal and state governments pushing their use, largely failed to consider how to manage the large amounts of waste produced when turbines and panels fail prematurely or are decommissioned and replaced at the end of their useful lives. This already amounts to millions of pounds of waste annually.

CBS News described the present management of solar panel and wind turbine disposal thusly:

[A]s the [wind and solar] industry expands, a new problem emerges: what to do with the mounting waste generated by worn-out solar panels and wind turbine blades.

More than 90 percent of discarded solar panels end up in landfills. By 2030, the retired panels are estimated to cover an area equivalent to about 3,000 football fields.

The wind industry is also producing waste — creating an estimated 47 million tons of blade waste annually by 2050.

Although CBS suggests the waste problem is one for the future, problems with disposing of the hundreds of turbines and thousands of panels that need replacing annually, are already evident.

Wind turbine blades are difficult if not impossible to recycle. They are composites, consisting of what one publication referred to as “a toxic amalgam of unique composites, fiberglass, epoxy, polyvinyl chloride foam, polyethylene terephthalate foam, balsa wood, and polyurethane coatings.”

As such, as of 2020, decommissioned or broken wind turbine blades were already amounting to 50,000 tons of waste annually, an amount expected to grow drastically in the near future. Almost all of this waste is either being left standing to rot, being taken down and temporarily stored on site until sufficient landfill space is found, or being shipped to landfills. Yet landfill space is becoming scarce, and for economic and liability reasons, becoming scarcer all the time.

As reported on at Heartland Daily News, a separate tractor-trailer is needed to haul each blade to a landfill, and cutting them up requires powerful specialized equipment. With as many as 8,000 blades a year already being removed from service just in the United States, this amounts to 32,000 truckloads over the next four years—a number that will five times higher in just a few years. That’s a lot of carbon dioxide emitted in the turbine disposal process, emissions unaccounted for when the emissions profile of industrial wind facilities are compared to traditional power plants.

Some wind energy companies have taken to cutting the blades into shorter sections before sending them to landfills, because most landfills lack cutting tools. Today’s turbine blades are 20 percent longer and their towers up to 200 feet taller than most of those currently being landfilled.

Turbine disposal costs are upwards of $400,000 apiece, amounting to $24 billion to dispose of the 60,000 turbines currently in use in the U.S. The cost and the toll on existing landfills will rise as more, longer, heavier blades reach their end of life.

That’s if landfills will take them. Because of the potentially toxic elements in them and the huge amount of space they take up, only certified landfills accept decommissioned wind turbine parts. Yet, municipalities running certified landfills are increasingly rejecting wind turbine blades, even when they can charge double the amount per ton for accepting turbines, because they take up tremendous amounts of space, must be crushed at considerable expense, and take hundreds of years to break down.

As these problems have become more evident, as CBS discussed, companies are seeking different ways to dispose of turbine blades. With proper environmental protocols in place, used blades can be shredded and burned in kilns or power plants. This, however, releases air toxins and carbon dioxide. Currently the emissions from burning decommissioned wind turbine blades is small, but if the practice becomes more widespread, such emissions could become considerable.

It is also difficult to dispose of or recycle decommissioned solar panels. Currently, most used solar panels are either shipped to landfills or shipped for use overseas.

Solar panels are typically removed when the energy they produce declines significantly, usually between 20 and 30 years, if they have not been damaged or become non-functional previously. Such panels still produce energy, just significantly less than required for homeowners, businesses, and utilities to benefit from them. Some companies have found a growing market for used, substandard solar panels over seas in developing countries. However, because the panels’ useful lives do come to an end eventually, over the long term, this just shifts the waste disposal problem from the United States, to poorer nations.

Solar panels contain a mixture of components, some of which can be recycled, some of which can’t. Although many of the material in solar panels are valuable and recyclable, like glass, copper, silver, and various critical materials, because of the way the panels are composed, it is expensive to do so. In addition, solar panels contain toxic metals like lead, cadmium, and selenium. The blending of these recyclable and toxic elements makes teasing the small amount of the valuable materials out from the toxic ones prohibitively expensive.

“The reason you do not see more companies doing solar panel recycling is because the economics don’t make sense,” AJ Orben, vice president at We Recycle Solar, told GreenBiz. “It costs more to break a panel down and recover the raw materials than what the raw materials themselves are worth.”

As CBS News notes, government incentives and subsidies are being used to encourage solar panel recycling but at the present they haven’t closed the gap between what it cost to capture the recyclable material from the panels and their value. As such, less than one in 10 solar panels are recycled, with thousands of panels each year piling up in landfills, potentially leaching toxic heavy metals into the soil and groundwater.

The waste disposal problem for green energy technology is big and growing bigger. CBS News did the public a service by bringing this problem to light. As CBS wrote, the waste “challenge” is, “black eye,” for the green energy industry. Maybe next CBS will take on the challenge of recycling or disposal of electric vehicle battery packs.

H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

In addition to directing The Heartland Institute’s Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland’s Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

CFACT to Feds: Wind turbine survey cuts off whale migration corridor

From CFACT

By Craig Rucker

The Biden Administration is preparing to rush approval for the Atlantic Shores offshore wind project, which is located approximately 10-20 miles off the coast of New Jersey between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light, despite the risk it poses to marine mammals — particularly the severely endangered right whale.

They are poised to allow NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to grant Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind the right to harass, and potentially kill through a generous IHA (Incidental Harassment Authorization) permit, the following numbers of marine mammals:

42
2,534 Dolphins
142 Porpoises
1,472 Seals
Total = 4,190 adversely impacted marine mammals

CFACT just submitted a detailed comment to NOAA opposing this authorization and urging them to pay attention to the potential harm that could be wrought on the natural world.

Read CFACT’s full submission at CFACT.org.

The flaws in the wind turbine plan are myriad, but here’s a biggie:

Proponents of the plan point to the very large survey area as mitigating the danger to the whales.  They couldn’t be more wrong.  As CFACT makes clear in our submission, “what is crucial is that the survey area is about 35 miles wide East to West and almost all of the migrating whales presently pass through this space. Thus the survey has the potential effect of blocking the migration, or at least seriously disrupting it, taking nearly 100% of the needed space not 2.11%.”

That’s right, virtually all of the whales would have to make it through the vast underwater din the survey would create in order to complete their annual migration.

Gifted mathematician David Wojick did his trademark thorough scouring of the governmental record and unearthed direct admissions of the threat wind turbines pose to marine mammals buried deep within.

Wojick concluded at CFACT.org that:

What is important is that NOAA and BOEM [the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] are clearly stating that the acoustic threats we have been warning about and suspecting are real. The telling correlations between sonar blasting and increased whale deaths cannot be waived away. 

Correlation is not causation, but correlation between cause and predicted effect is very strong evidence that the cause is effective. NOAA and BOEM’s repeated insistence that there is no evidence offshore wind development is killing whales is clearly contradicted by their own Environmental Impact Statements. 

Intermittent energy from offshore wind turbines is expensive and inefficient.

Their large, dirty footprint should not be ignored.

Wind turbines should not get a pass on the risk they pose to marine life.

Author

  • Craig Rucker
  • Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.

Climate Policies Like LSD Fantasies

From Science Matters

By Ron Clutz

Andrew I. Fillat & Henry Miller explain at Washington Examiner  Climate policies range from inanity to insanity.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

The “war” on fossil fuels by activists and bureaucrats is much like how people describe an LSD trip: exhilarating, completely unreal, and possibly dangerous. This is evident from a simple analysis of what it would take to satisfy today’s demand for electricity in the absence of further electrifying transportation, industry, residences, and everything else.

Current domestic demand is 4 billion megawatt hours (MWh, the consumption of 1,000 watts of power for one hour), or 6.6 million MWh per day. Our generating capacity consists of 38% gas-fired, 22% coal-fired, 19% nuclear, 9.2% wind, 6.3% hydropower, 2.8% solar, and 1.7% other. We would need, therefore, to replace 2.4 billion MWh (gas and coal) with wind or solar.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

A typical wind turbine generates two megawatts and occupies nearly two acres, or about one megawatt per acre. Solar is similar at one and one-third megawatt per acre. A megawatt creates 8,750 MWh annually. However, wind and solar are only 40% productive on average (due to calm, clouds, and nights). And wind and solar are both land hogs: Generating 2.4 billion MWh would consume 750,000 acres for either technology. To put that in context, the state of Rhode Island occupies 1 million acres.

We would need about 375,000 new wind turbines (up from 3,000 per year now)
at $3 million each, or more than $1 trillion. At $400,000 per acre of solar panels,
that cost is about $3 trillion.

This doesn’t take into account land cost and maintenance or the price escalation for raw materials required for the fabrication of the turbines and solar panels due to increased demand. It also ignores the greenhouse gas emissions from the mining itself.

The killer is backup.

With the decommissioning of fossil fuels, the only practical solution for calm, clouds, and nighttime is batteries. But at $151,000 per MWh for utility-scale batteries, the cost to provide only one day (6.6 MwH) of backup is about $1 trillion. The 2021 West Texas wind farm freeze suggests that a reasonable backup capacity is probably four days. And building these batteries would exacerbate raw materials shortages.

Our calculations are for the U.S. alone, and since we account for about 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions and electricity generation is only a quarter of that, the very best case is a 4% reduction in global greenhouse emissions. Meanwhile, China and India have nearly 10 times the number of coal-fired power plants as the U.S. and continue to build while we decommission ours. They will dwarf any emissions reductions we make while growing their economies as we strangle ours with expensive and limited energy.

Moreover, all of this is before the increased demand in power to electrify cars, factories, homes, and businesses further, which in turn will require upgrading the entire electrical grid — trillions of dollars more to upgrade transmission and connection facilities as well as still more wind or solar.

Just a fraction of the money wasted on the current LSD trip would be far better invested in “geoengineering” mitigation of the effects of climate change, which have never proved to be remotely as dire as the prophets of Armageddon have predicted. They might include, for example, projects such as reforestation; the Amazon provides 20% of the world’s oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide.

The true insanity, however, is ignoring very real opportunities for small-scale nuclear power. That clean source of energy is on the cusp of a major revolution in availability, cost reduction, and safety, if only we put aside our irrational fears. Our Navy has operated more than 150 nuclear-powered vessels for decades without incident.

Energy policies that would devastate our economy in the pursuit of
marginally relevant benefits at monumental cost are truly dangerous
to our way of life, global standing, and national security.
They should be short-circuited or discharged.

Andrew I. Fillat spent his career in technology venture capital and information technology companies. He is also the co-inventor of relational databases. Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is the Glenn Swogger distinguished fellow at the American Council on Science and Health. They were undergraduates together at MIT.