Book Review: Flight Behavior

I recently read the novel Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, a book about climate change. When I first began reading the book I had no intentions of doing a review, but as I got deeper into the book, and the characters voiced their opinions, about media in general, my intentions changed.

The premise of the book is that millions of monarch butterflies migrate to a rural area in Tennessee for the winter instead of going to their usual location in Mexico. After they are Flight Behaviordiscovered by Dellarobia on her family’s land, and the media gets involved with a news story, people from around the world begin showing up including a scientist. The next several months the scientist, Dr. Ovid Byron, and his team attempt to ascertain why the monarch butterflies wintered in Tennessee.

There have been discussions in the media and scientific journals about how monarchs are decreasing in population. While some believe the cause is climate change, others believe it is the use of pesticides and some believe it is a combination of both. For example, Andre Leu, IFOAM President and author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides, quotes in his book, “Herbicide-resistant plants….have increased the use of glyphosate, which kills all other plants including milkweed, the only type of plant that monarch butterflies use for laying their eggs.” The author cites that milkweed has declined by 60 percent and monarchs in the U.S. that winter in the forests of Mexico has dropped from 1 billion in 1997 to 33.5 million. The milkweed fact above was mentioned in Flight Behavior.

I”m not going to use this space to debate climate change; rather, I’m going to use this space to discuss the role of media in the conversation. Today, media is quoting “experts” about climate change (and other issues) that are in fact not experts at all. Where are the credible scientists and researchers who are doing the work around climate change in this conversation?

Many scientists do not like how they are portrayed in and by the media. Reporters often spend more time being skeptical about the facts being delivered by a respected scientist then they do when speaking to a person who uses social media to get his/her word out effectively but has no basis in training or education to be discussing the scientific merits of an issue. (In other words, scientists don’t speak sexy talk).

Dellarobia and her husband Cub, give us an example: “Here’s the thing,” she said. “Why would we believe Johnny Midgeon about something scientific, and not the scientists?” Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGreenbelt Resources Corporation has announced that it has successfully achieved its goal of raising $550,000 from individual qualified accredited investors. The investments were offered in the form of either restricted common stock or unsecured interest bearing convertible debentures, with substantially all of the proceeds directed to common stock purchases. The net proceeds will be used for working capital needs including the transition of the company’s existing R&D facility to an operational biorefinery. The funds will also allow Greenbelt Resources to conduct target market research to identify feedstocks that provide the highest potential financial returns from conversion to commercially viable products including advanced biofuels, feed and fertilizer.
  • The first comprehensive study of U.S. institutional investors’ appetite for green bonds was released by the Clean Energy Group and Croatan Institute, two national nonprofits. The study, “What Investors Want: How to Scale-Up Demand for US Clean Energy and Green Bonds,” provides a blueprint for growing the market for fixed-income securities to finance clean energy projects and solve climate problems. The study examined what institutional investors need – and identified the demand characteristics that must be met – in order to make the decision to purchase these financial instruments as part of a sound investment portfolio.
  • Continental Energy Corporation has been appointed manager of a U.S. $95,000 grant from the Rural Energy Agency of Tanzania. The grant is made under the Tanzania Energy Development Access program with funds provided by the World Bank and the Global Environmental Fund. The proceeds of the grant are to be used to conduct a site specific technical and environmental study for a Ruaha Power proposed two megawatt hybrid renewable energy generation and distribution network, or “Mini-Grid,” incorporating a mix of run-of-river hydropower, solar photovoltaic, and biomass gasifier technologies.
  • Korean-based S-Energy Co., has completed the installation and grid connection of 3.33 megawatts of solar carport structures at 2 Los Angeles County, California school districts. S-Energy America, the wholly owned U.S. operation of S-Energy, provides CVD-free Korean-made modules to major residential and commercial solar installers throughout North America, as well as development, financing and operations expertise to move solar projects to completion. Over 7,000 S-Energy PC8 72-cell modules were installed at 12 school facilities within the Lynwood Unified School District. Another 4,400 S-Energy high-performance solar modules were installed at 6 school facilities within the Bassett Unified School District in the City of La Puente. The solar installations will offset more than 50% of each school’s electricity usage.

US Senators Say Yes to Clean Power

A group of U.S. Senators have come out in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The group submitted a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy stating that while the emission reduction goals are admiral, they believe that with modest EPA Clean Power Planchanges to reflect real-world market and technological conditions, the plan can be more effective as well as better aligned with state power plans.

Citing Best System of Emission Reduction that requires that an emissions limitation technology be “adequately demonstrated” and also taking into consideration costs and non-air quality health and environmental impact, the Senators offer several tangible suggestions for improvement with the recommendation of using the Alternative Renewable Energy Approach methodology as outlined in the EPA proposal with the following changes:

  • Recognizing the regional nature of the electricity system. State targets should reflect regional renewable energy generation and use alternative methodology to estimate regional technical potentials constrained by costs and grid integration limitations and then equitably set state targets that align with its Renewable Portfolio Standards.
  • Remove the benchmark deployment rate as a constraint on the target. The EPA should set targets based on the Integrated Planning Model (they do not do this now). The model can calculate renewable energy development potential by evaluating the technical potential, costs and grid conditions in each state.
  • Use current data to evaluate resource potential. The Senators cite the use of outdated data in the proposal and stress the need to use current renewable energy data that reflects today’s market conditions and recent technological developments.
  • Include distributed generation technologies in calculating state targets. Distributed generation was not included in EPA’s proposal and the Senators stress the need for this energy category to be included.

In addition, the senators also recommend considering all efficiency measures that have been adequately demonstrated in the marketplace; adopt a consistent approach in which any state that implements energy efficiency measures will receive full credit for such measures; and emissions reduction from displaced fossil fuels through the deployment of renewable energy and efficiency should be accurately captured in emissions reduction targets for states.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) commented on the Senator’s suggested changed to the Clean Power Plan.

“As an organization – and as an industry – we are very encouraged that so many Senators have signaled their enthusiastic support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. As the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, solar contributes in a significant way to a balanced energy portfolio. In fact, in the third quarter of this year alone, the United States installed 1,354 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV), up 41 percent over the same period last year. Moving forward, we believe solar can be a real game changer for states trying to meet their requirements under the Clean Power Plan, and we stand ready to help.”

NRG eVgo Expands EV Charging to Atlanta

NRG eVgo has announced plans to expand its comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to Atlanta, Georgia. According to IHS Automotive, Atlanta emerged as the second major metropolitan market for EV sales, following San Francisco. Atlanta is geographically large, meaning most people commute to work, and have a need for a sustainable, reliable charging infrastructure.

NRG eVgo says its DC fast chargers are the fastest chargers available today and can charge an EV in less than 30 minutes. The charging network will be located along major roads in retail locations. The company will also be providing comprehensive EV infrastructure covering workplaces, multi-family buildings, and residences in the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area.

“We are pleased that NRG has chosen to expand its eVgo charging network in the City of Atlanta,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Establishing a robust fast-charging network is essential to even broader adoption of electric vehicle use, both here in Atlanta and across the country.”

NRG eVgo charging stationThis fast charging network supports eVgo’s partnership with Nissan to expand the “No Charge to Charge” program to the Atlanta market. Already in 13 markets, “No Charge to Charge” is a first-of-its-kind partnership that provides Nissan LEAF buyers with complimentary 24-month access to the eVgo network, as well as other EV charging networks, using a single EZ-Charge access card.

Arun Banskota, President of NRG eVgo said of the announcement, “Atlanta drivers have embraced cleaner, more efficient vehicles to make their city one of the fastest growing EV markets in the country. Combining Atlanta’s enthusiasm for driving electric with the range confidence of a fast charging infrastructure will create an unbeatable combination that sets the stage for further EV adoption across the metro area and country.”

Students Learn About the Power of the Sun

Green Power EMC has released an updated curriculum and enhanced in-class learning laboratory featuring solar power. The program was developed by schools participating in their SunPower for Schools partnership program. The curriculum provides solar arrays on school grounds and software for use in the classroom that when used together allow students to monitor real-time data on solar energy production. Currently, 35 middle and high schools in EMC service territories around Georgia are participating in the program.

The program supports STEM standards (science, technology, engineering and math) and includes 57 lesson plans that cover four main areas for middle and high school students: physical science, physics and chemistry; math; life science, biology Array-Sun-Power_rszand environmental science; and earth science. Additional lesson plans are being developed for other subjects and grade levels as well.

“This professionally developed curriculum and upgraded hardware and software not only help students learn about solar energy but also provide a hands-on laboratory to apply math and science standards taught in Georgia schools,” said Green Power EMC President Jeff Pratt. “In addition, we created the curriculum as an off-the-shelf program that teachers can use with a minimum of preparation.”

The new curriculum was developed by the University of West Georgia in partnership with Green Power EMC and was reviewed this summer in a teacher’s workshop in Savannah to test and evaluate the program. Forty-four middle and high school teachers participated in the three-day seminar and provided feedback that is being incorporated into the curriculum. It will be utilized during the 2014 – 2015 school year.

Pratt said Green Power EMC and the EMCs in Georgia who own the renewable energy cooperative hope to further enhance the program in the near future to provide more hands-on learning opportunities for Georgia’s students. “We’re excited to have developed a curriculum that is like no other in the state,” said Pratt. “We expect that teacher and student feedback received during this first year of implementation will allow us to make it even better in future years.”

North Carolina Adds 3 Solar Projects

Three new utility-scale solar farms have been added to North Carolina’s energy mix. The solar projects are located on rural farmland in Erwin, Efland and Hickory, North Carolina and total 18 MW of solar energy. The projects were completed by a partnership of Sol Systems, National Cooperative Bank and Strata Solar. These projects follow the successful deployment of 18.2 MW that went online earlier this year.

Sol Systems LLC solar energy“North Carolina is a robust market for tax structured investments, which have been instrumental in stimulating the state’s solar growth,” said Dan Yonkin, director of Tax Equity at Sol Systems. “Equally, in an industry where long-term relationships are essential for keeping transaction costs low, we are vigilant in working with such esteemed partners.”

Sol Systems managed the investment on behalf of an international bank as part of the firm’s tax equity initiative to produce secure, sustainable solar investments for banks, insurance companies, utilities, and Fortune 100 clients. Strata Solar developed the project opportunities provided EPC services, and National Cooperative Bank served as the lender in the transactions.

North Carolina now ranks fourth in the country in terms of installed solar capacity according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The 2013 Solar Jobs Census counted 3,100 solar jobs in the Tar Heel State, which will likely be even higher for 2014.

“Reliable, long-term relationships are a key component of success in this industry. Strata Solar chooses partners that are credible and allow us to move our business forward with confidence,” said David Scoglio, CFO of Strata Solar. “Sol Systems and NCB are fine examples of some of the partnerships that help us continue to create great opportunities for business development and investment.”

Matthew Wright, Senior Vice President, National Cooperative Bank added, “The solar industry in the United States is booming, and National Cooperative Bank has been committed to supporting this important sector since 2008, having financed over $300 million and 250 Megawatts. We look forward to working with Strata Solar and Sol Systems in the future.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFJA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. has announced that it shipped 100MW of modules to the first large-scale solar farm in Pakistan. Occupying 500 acres of land, the solar farm is located within the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. The Solar Park will serve to address the country’s energy shortage and is a key project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an under-construction development program for energy and infrastructure projects to connect China to southern Pakistan and develop a new gateway for trade. Energy demand in Pakistan has grown approximately 8 percent annually, leaving the country with an estimated deficit in energy production of 6 GW.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a third round of funding for the Alaska Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program, a competitive technical assistance program that helps Alaska Native corporations and federally recognized Alaska Native governments with accelerating clean energy projects. Applications are due by February 6, 2015. In addition, the White House Council of Native American Affairs Energy Subgroup launched a new Web page that provides a centralized repository of federal funding and technical assistance programs that can support energy project development for tribes and Alaska Native villages and corporations.
  • The global market value for offshore wind turbine and foundation installation vessels will increase more than fivefold, from an estimated $0.56 billion in 2014 to approximately $2.93 billion by 2020, representing an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30%, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s latest report states that increasing installations will be the primary driver of market growth, as annual global offshore wind power capacity is forecast to rise rapidly from 1.78 Gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to approximately 7.85 GW by 2020.
  • California is home to the largest advanced energy industry in the country, according to the first-ever industry-wide survey released by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. At 431,800 jobs today, advanced energy is bigger by employment in California than the motion picture, television, and radio industries among others Advanced energy jobs grew 5 percent in the past year – more than double the overall state job growth rate – and is on track to grow 17 percent in the coming year, to more than 500,000 workers, based on employer hiring plans.

Light This Holiday Season with Luci

It is estimated 1.4 billion people, largely in developing communities, live without access to grid electricity. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, 90 million primary students are without electricity. And, each year, indoor pollution from dirty fuels results in four million deaths. To address this issue, the creators of Luci, MPOWERD, have partnered with FCB Garfinkel and the composers from Found Objects to shine a light on energy poverty in emerging countries. The collaborators have released a new animated video follows the journey of a young child and showcases how important access to energy is for his education and quality of life.

According to MPOWERD, Luci is an easy-to-use, high-quality solar lantern and task light that is lightweight, maintenance-free, safe and waterproof. It is a high-impact and low-footprint resource to increase access to reliable lighting across the globe.

Lee Garfinkel, CEO of FCB Garfinkel, said explaining energy poverty is tough when the public isn’t always aware of the problem. “The story of Kiama brings his daily struggle to life and, through the help of the Luci solar-powered light, illustrates how a simple idea can have an incredible impact.”

“Give Luci” tells the story of a boy named Kiama on his journey to and from school. Kiama, like many children, has big dreams. As Kiama heads home from school to have dinner with his family, he settles in but so does the sun. That causes Kiama’s world to go dark. Kiama’s lack of access to light means he, like millions of other children, cannot study at night or do his homework, which in turn dampens his dreams and his potential. That is, until Luci.

“We know that energy poverty is a topic that isn’t discussed very often,” added Scott Kling, President and COO of MPOWERD. “But making a big impact is easy. When people purchase even just one Luci light and gift it to someone in need, it can change the lives of a family of five and keep 320kg of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually.”

U.S. Solar Market Hits 2nd Best Quarter Ever

The U.S. solar market has had another record setting quarter. According to the latest edition of U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the U.S. installed 1,354 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in Q3 2014. The report is released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and found that installation was up 40 percent over the same period last year. According to the report, Q3 was the nation’s second largest quarter ever for PV installations and brings the country’s cumulative solar PV capacity to 16.1 gigawatts (GW), with another 1.4 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity.

U.S. Installed Solar 3rd Q 2014Through the first three quarters of the year, solar represents 36 percent of new capacity to come on-line, up from 29 percent in 2013 and 9.6 percent in 2012.

“Solar’s continued, impressive growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS),” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for America. Every three minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project, benefiting both our economy and the environment.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • The U.S. installed 1,354 MW of solar PV in Q3 2014, up 41 percent over Q3 2013, making it the second-largest quarter for solar installations in the history of the market.
  • Cumulative operating PV capacity has now eclipsed the 16 GW mark, thanks to four consecutive quarters of more than 1 GW installed.
  • For the first time ever, more than 300 MW of residential PV came on-line in a single quarter and more than 50 percent of residential PV came online without any state incentive.
  • 36 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. through the first three quarters of 2014 came from solar.
  • Growth remains driven primarily by the utility solar PV market, which installed 825 MW in Q3 2014, up from 540 MW in Q3 2013.
  • The report forecasts that PV installations will reach 6.5 GW in 2014, up 36 percent over 2013 and more than three times the market size of just three years ago.
  • Q1 2014 was the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power (CSP), due to the completion of the 392 MW Ivanpah project and Genesis Solar project’s second 125 MWac phase. While no CSP plants came on-line in Q3 2014, Abengoa’s Mojave Solar (250 MW) achieved commercial operation in December 2014, making 2014 the biggest year ever for CSP.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFBased on its recent analysis of the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure market, Frost & Sullivan has recognized Advansolar with the 2014 French Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation Leadership. Advansolar advocates the practice of on-site self-consumption of solar energy rather than remote solar energy utilization. The company enables customers to harness and utilize solar energy to charge their EVs and in the process, hence reducing their dependence on the grid.
  • GDF SUEZ Energy Resources NA, a leader in U.S. retail energy, is further strengthening the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s commitment to environmental responsibility by again donating Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to the nonprofit organization. The gift will offset the museum’s electricity consumption during the month of December. Each Green-e© certified REC represents the environmental attributes or benefits associated with a specific quantity of energy generated from a renewable source, such as solar or wind.
  • Invenergy Clean Power LLC has announced the successful close of financing and the start of commercial operation of its Desert Green Solar Farm in Borrego Springs, California. Desert Green is a 6.3 MW AC facility located in San Diego County, approximately 90 miles northeast of the city of San Diego. Output is sold to San Diego Gas & Electric under a long-term power sale agreement. Financing was provided by PNC Energy Capital, LLC, a subsidiary of PNC Bank, N.A.
  • Duke Energy has received regulatory approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to acquire and construct three large solar facilities located in Bladen, Duplin and Wilson counties North Carolina. The three projects are part of Duke Energy’s $500-million solar expansion announced in September, which also includes buying power under purchase power agreements from five other new solar projects in both the Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress service territories.

AWEA: Wind Provides Economic, Consumer Benefits

According to a study recently released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), AWEA Report- economic benefits of wind energy in SPPwind energy provides the Southwest Power Pool Region (SPP) with $2.8 billion in societal benefits per year. In 2013, wind energy accounted for 10.8 percent of the electricity produced in this region.

“The economic benefits of wind energy in the Southwest Pool” looked at the effect of wind energy in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska as well as parts of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. The study found that one MWh (megawatt hour) of wind energy in SPP, enough to power an average home for one month, provides an average of $109 in economic benefits to society and $7 in benefits to consumers.

The report found four major societal benefits:

  1. Wind reduces the cost of producing electricity. Wind energy is a zero-fuel cost so when utilities use the least-cost power plant first electricity produced from sources such as wind are tapped first.
  2. Wind energy reduces pollution. The reports notes that pollution from fossil-fired power plants, that are shown to harm health, are not currently reflected in electricity market prices. Wind reduces the costs to society in terms of pollution including no production of sulfur dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases.
  3. Wind energy hedges against fuel price volatility. Wind energy helps to hedge against price volatility because unlike fossil fuels, wind energy is sold at a long-term fixed price through a Power Purchase Agreement.
  4. Fixed-priced wind energy becomes an even better deal as other fuels increase in price over time. Nearly all of wind plant’s costs are fixed up front and the majority of prices are fixed through the PPA. In contrast, the cost of conventional generation changes significantly based on fuel costs. These costs are passed along to consumers.

The report also cites two major benefits:

  • Wind energy protects consumers by reducing use of the most expensive power plants. Because wind energy has a low production marginal cost because it has zero-fuel costs it drives down the market price for all electricity that is being purchased in the market.
  • Fixed-price wind energy reduces consumer prices more as other fuels get more expensive. Fossil fuel prices are expected to increase whereas wind energy is a fixed price and the savings are passed along to consumers.

The report concludes that due to a drastic decline in wind energy adding new wind generation to the SPP will result in significant societal and consumer benefits.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFLauritzen Bulkers has signed its longest contract ever with U.S.-based Green Circle Bio Energy involving transportation of 600,000 tonnes of wood pellets from the U.S. to the UK and the European continent over the next eight years. Green Circle Bio Energy owns one of the world’s largest wood pellet plants.
  • Amyris, Inc. has announced the appointment of Raffi Asadorian as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, effective January 6, 2015. The Company’s interim Chief Financial Officer, Paulo Diniz, will transition to a new role as Chairman of Amyris Brasil.
  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2 million funding support to develop a solution for collecting renewable biomass from fast growing trees. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Biosystems Engineering would be further developing, building and testing an innovative woody biomass harvester.
  • Sino Group, Arup and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University have unveiled a research project on the first in-building hydro power that makes use of unused water head in pipelines. Installed at Olympian City 2, the prototype is the second phase of hydro power research and the generator (output: 100Wh) represents a six-fold leap from the first phase. Under the model, water current passing through the pipe drives a novel vertical-axis turbine developed by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Water Supplies Department, which generates hydroelectricity from water pipelines. Electricity generated is stored in a battery, and can be used to power a typical lift lobby’s lighting system.

Ormat to Expand Kenya Olkaria III Geothermal Plant

Ormat - Kenya Geothermal PlantOrmat Technologies has announced they are expanding their Oklaria geothermal energy complex located in Kenya. The company has signed an amended and restated Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC).

Under the terms of the agreement, Ormat expects to increase the generating capacity of the complex by 24 MW, bringing the complex’s total capacity to 134 MW. The fourth plant is expected to come on line in the second half of 2016 and to sell electricity under a 20 year PPA with KPLC.

“Ormat’s Olkaria geothermal complex provides clean, reliable and firm power to over 200,000 Kenyan households, increasing the complex by an additional 24 MW will further benefit the Kenyan people,” said Ormat CEO Isaac Angel. “We see Kenya, with its progressive renewable energy policy, as an important market for us and where we will continue to explore additional projects. The synergies that derive from adding units to the existing complex allow smaller plants to be a cost effective and provide the additional power that the country needs in record speeds.”

Quad County’s Delayne Johnson Featured on Car Clinic

Bobby Likis Car ClinicThe first cellulosic ethanol plant to go online in the U.S., Quad County Corn Processors, is being featured in an upcoming “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” program. Quad County CEO Delayne Johnson will be live on air this Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 11:25 am Eastern at WatchBobbyLive.com.

During the interview, Johnson will shine light on many renewable fuels related topics including a deeper look into the differences between cellulosic vs. conventional ethanol, the many benefits ethanol offers and what is in store for the future of cellulosic ethanol.

tN_112580_delayneJohnson expands on the benefits of cellulosic ethanol, “Quad County Corn Processors is proud to be one of the first companies out of the gate to produce cellulosic ethanol. The ethanol produced at our facility is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping lower America’s dependence on foreign oil. I am excited to join Bobby Likis to explain to listeners how cellulosic ethanol is made and the benefits of next-generation biofuels.”

Likis adds, “On Car Clinic globalcasts, I’m committed to expand listeners’ and viewers’ knowledge base beyond ‘the rumor mill’ so often associated with renewable fuels. Delayne will clear the air about how, specifically, cellulosic ethanol production is accelerating solutions on many levels.”

MIT Study Finds Wind Turbines No Risk to Humans

A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that living near wind turbines poses no risk for human health. The review took into consideration health effects such as stress, annoyance and sleep disturbance among others that have, in the past, been raised in association with living close to wind turbines.

“No clear or consistent association is seen between noise from wind turbines and any reported disease or other indicator of harm to human health,” the study found.

JOEMThe MIT authors considered a number of case studies in Europe and the U.S. to assess the impact of infrasound and quality of life for the populations close to wind farms. Although complaints from residents were more common during the construction of wind farms, other technologies such as gas and oil facilities drew more public criticism.

For example, one human health case study based on a wind farm located in northern Poland found that those living next to wind farms reported the best quality of life and those living further than 1,500 meters scored the worst. The report concluded that living in close proximity to wind farms does not result in the worsening of, and might even improve, the quality of life in that particular region.

Iván Pineda, head of policy analysis at the European Wind Energy Association commented on the report. “These results should lay to rest any concerns that some citizens may have with regard to living near wind turbines.”

Measurements of low-frequency sound (LFN), infrasound and tonal sound show that infrasound is emitted by wind turbines but disturbances to homes are typically well below audibility levels. Four large turbines and 44 smaller turbines were investigated in the Netherlands but infrasound levels were not deemed to cause problems and LFN sound in residential areas did not exceed levels from other common noise sources such as traffic.