Texas and neighbors hit hard by a severe winter storm due to polar vortex conditions causing temperatures to plummet dangerously low. The States’ self contained electrical grid faces collapse as generators not properly winterized become frozen. A state of emergency is declared while residents and businesses are plunged into prolonged electricity blackouts. People being left to face the harsh winter conditions for days without electricity and for some it results in deadly consequences.
Wind turbines frozen and back up generation from natural gas hampered. The spot price of gas soars by thousands of percent in cost while the blame game and finger pointing reaches a fevered pitch.
“The problem is Texas’s overreliance on wind power that has left the grid more vulnerable to bad weather. Half of wind turbines froze last week, causing wind’s share of electricity to plunge to 8% from 42%. Power prices in the wholesale market spiked, and grid regulators on Friday warned of rolling blackouts. Natural gas and coal generators ramped up to cover the supply gap but couldn’t meet the surging demand for electricity—which half of households rely on for heating—even as many families powered up their gas furnaces. Then some gas wells and pipelines froze.”
Germany began installing wind turbines in earnest some 20 years ago. Now that their lifetime has been exceeded, many are being ripped down. But there’s a big problem about what to do with the leftover carbon and glass-fibre reinforced blades
A recent report on ZDF German public television explains that currently there’s no plan in place on what to do with the turbine blades, which weigh up to 15 tonnes each.
There’s no way to recycle them to use as raw material for new blades. Currently the old blades are being shredded and the chips mixed in with concrete. “You need too much energy and power to shred them,” says Hans-Dieter Wilcken, the operator of a German recycling company.
Burning them is also not an option.
The problem with chopping them up is that dangerous carbon fibre particles are produced and pose a threat to human health. Used wind turbine blades have been designated hazardous waste and no one knows how to deal with them.
Currently 30,000 wind turbines are in operation across Germany and many will have to be dismantled over the next 20 years. That volume alone means over a million tonnes of hazardous waste (30,000 turbines x 3 blades/turbine x 15 tonnes/blade = 1.35 million tonnes).
By 2100, with wind turbine use expected to rise, millions of tonnes of non-recyclable hazardous waste will be left for future generations to deal with – that’s in Germany alone.
Bloomberg: Massive waste “forever”
In the USA, Casper Wyoming is currently serving as a landfill for used blades, Bloomberg here reports:
‘The wind turbine blade will be there, ultimately, forever,’ said Bob Cappadona, chief operating officer for the North American unit of Paris-based Veolia Environnement SA, which is searching for better ways to deal with the massive waste. ‘Most landfills are considered a dry tomb.’
‘The last thing we want to do is create even more environmental challenges.’
On top of the hazardous wind turbine blade waste, there’s also the problem of the massive steel reinforced turbine foundations, which are simply being swept under a layer of dirt as well. These too will forever have an impact on ground and ground water.
Legacy of waste, breathtaking stupidity
Future generations will wonder how dumb their ancestors must have been to opt for a form of energy that blighted the landscape, destroyed ecosystems over vast areas, killed avian wildlife, was an unreliable and expensive energy source, made nearby residents sick and left millions and millions of tonnes of waste behind.
Never mind ll the solar panel waste that is about to added to that.
“The larger point is that a decline in the performance of offshore turbines due to ageing at a rate of 4.5% per year means that the effective economic life of such turbines is little more than 15 years. Power prices and operational arrangements after that period will have a very small effect on the decision to invest or not to invest in offshore generation.”
“As is often the custom in Ontario on hot humid summer days, most of the IWT (industrial wind turbines) took the day off so the 4,800 MW of capacity they have was virtually silent. Had they operated at 100% of capacity they would have delivered 115,000 MWh but instead they only managed to puff out 7,440 MWh and had 400 MWh curtailed (at 11 PM) meaning they operated at a level of capacity of 6.8% including the curtailed MWh. As the morning broke at hour 9 AM they generated 8 MWh or 0.017% of capacity. Fortunately, we didn’t need their power as nuclear, hydro and gas easily supplied our needs throughout the day even though total market demand reached 22,641 MWh and Ontario demand peaked at 19,342 MWh or 402,000 MWh for the full day. Our net exports were north of 45,000 MWh which earned us ratepayers only about $750,000 while costing us close to $7 million.”
“It was kind of crushing to discover that the things I believed in weren’t real, first of all, and then to discover not only are the solar panels and wind turbines not going to save us … but (also) that there is this whole dark side of the corporate money … It dawned on me that these technologies were just another profit center.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “What if alternative energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the provocative question explored in the documentary “Planet of the Humans,” which is backed and promoted by filmmaker Michael Moore and directed by one of his longtime collaborators. It premiered last week at his Traverse City Film Festival.
The film, which does not yet have distribution, is a low-budget but piercing examination of what the filmmakers say are the false promises of the environmental movement and why we’re still “addicted” to fossil fuels. Director Jeff Gibbs takes on electric cars, solar panels, windmills, biomass, biofuel, leading environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club, and even figures from Al Gore and Van Jones, who served as Barack Obama’s special adviser for green jobs, to 350.org leader Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist and advocate for grassroots climate change movements.
Gibbs, who produced Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” didn’t set out to take on the environmental movement. He said he wanted to know why things weren’t getting better. But when he started pulling on the thread, he and Moore said they were shocked to find how inextricably entangled alternative energy is with coal and natural gas, since they say everything from wind turbines to electric car charging stations are tethered to the grid, and even how the Koch brothers are tied to solar panel production through their glass production business.
“It turned out the wakeup call was about our own side,” Gibbs said in a phone interview. “It was kind of crushing to discover that the things I believed in weren’t real, first of all, and then to discover not only are the solar panels and wind turbines not going to save us … but (also) that there is this whole dark side of the corporate money … It dawned on me that these technologies were just another profit center.”
Both know the film is going to be a “tough pill to swallow.” It was a difficult eye-opener for them as well……
Although the findings will be disheartening, both Gibbs and Moore say they hope that it inspires people to reset and start thinking differently.”
“Now we can begin to come up with the right solutions that might make a difference … The film doesn’t have the answers but it will get us asking a better set of questions,” Gibbs said. “I really do trust that when millions of people are discussing an issue, answers will emerge … This is what we do as humans, we solve problems, but we’ve got to have the right questions.”
End of life for the Pickering wind turbine. Ironically its demise serves as a metaphor for illusions peddled that wind turbines are a viable means for on demand electricity generation. Waiting for the winds to be just right (not too fast or slow, or no wind) turbines fueled by the wind produce out of sync with demand. It is also plagued by generation that is variable and intermittent in nature. Introducing wind powered generation creates increased need for fossil fuels (usually gas) for back- up generation capacity that can be there when needed. Turbines have an eye watering, otitic throbbing 20 years or less operational life cycle.
Later this year, Pickering residents will see a change as they stroll along the Waterfront Trail at Alex Robertson Park. Ontario Power Generation’s wind turbine has reached its end of life and will soon be dismantled.
While the turbine has produced clean, renewable energy for many years, it’s important that we make smart investment decisions that will return good value for Ontario. And because the cost to replace the turbine’s older parts is too high, and leaving the turbine in place but not operating would present a safety concern, we’ve made the decision to move forward with dismantling it.
Did you know?
The turbine has operated for almost 20 years
At full power, it could produce enough energy to power about 330 homes
While located beside the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, it’s actually operated and maintained by our Niagara Operations team
Once work begins it will take about two weeks to dismantle the wind turbine. We’ll publish the date here once it’s been determined.