Wind Farms Now Come With the Threat of Jail
3 March 2016
- Poland’s proposed rules may cost industry $38 million a year
- Legislation would apply to existing renewable plants
One of Europe’s most promising markets for renewable energy is being threatened by legislation that would impose new fees and potential jail terms for operators of wind farms, an industry lobby group said.
Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party is proposing laws that would require new turbines to be situated away from homes, schools and natural reserves at a distance of more than 10-times their height. That would be about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles), according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The law also would subject existing wind farms to audits every two years.
The law would raise annual wind farm costs by as much as 150 million zloty ($37.6 million) even if no more turbines were built, according to the draft legislation. While the government is attempting to clamp down on rising electricity bills and empower communities concerned about the installations, the wind industry says the rules would choke off development and eliminate a clean source of electricity.
Poland’s plans “will tie projects up in red tape and make life difficult for developers by imposing arbitrary rules that serve no other purpose than to prevent wind turbine deployment,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association. “This draft law is a clear statement of intent and should not be allowed to stand.”
The government says it’s worried a surge in new installations is creating a conflict between communities and investors. It’s also seeking to curb subsidies for renewables and support its ailing coal industry, which has been undercut by falling commodity prices. While the country was among more than 195 nations that backed the Paris deal on climate change in December, it has sought a special status for coal and forecasts the fossil fuel will form a key component of its energy security for decades.
Piotr Naimski, the Polish government official in charge of supervising gas and power grids, said Thursday the country needs to adopt a strategy of letting renewables compete with coal-fired plants without subsidies. He wants to change the current merit system that gives wind power priority over coal generation, according to an interview with Biznesalert.pl.
Poland’s energy ministry declined to comment on the draft law.
Poland, Europe’s top coal producer, notched up the continent’s second-highest number of wind-power installations last year. Developers rushed to install 1.26 gigawatts of new capacity ahead of expected changes to government subsidies, that will require developers to bid in auctions for support. The country now has 5.1 gigawatts of installed wind capacity, equivalent to about 9 percent of the installed base in neighboring Germany.
“Poland has excellent wind resources and has the potential to be a European power house in wind energy,” The threat to imprison turbine operators for violating potential rules is “deeply concerning and misguided,” Joy said.
Concerning for the wind lobby group are rules embedded in the legislation that would require wind farm owners to pay fees for operating plants and sign up for a new permit every two years. Those who fail to comply might face prison sentences, and the rules would be applied retroactively to existing plants, said Joy.
Instead of imposing tough restrictions, the government may find ways to boost the benefits that communities enjoy from wind power, including opportunities to co-invest, said David Hostert, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“There are also a host of technical solutions available today to limit the impact of wind turbines, such as noise-reduction technology or automatically stopping the turbine at certain times of day to avoid flickering shadows on nearby properties,” he said.
The usual run of lies pitched up the wind industry and its spruikers there. Poland may have seen an uptick in installations, but the Spanish haven’t erected a turbine for nearly 2 years; and the Nordics have pulled the plug, too:
The Bloomberg line about wind power being “clean energy” a giveaway as to where its mercenary financial interests are aligned – sure it’s ‘clean’, if you ignore the fact that behind every MW of wind power capacity is a MW of real capacity at a coal or gas fired power plant, burning fuel around the clock to ensure the grid doesn’t collapse every time the wind drops:
And it’s as ‘clean’ as whistle, provided you ignore the hundreds of blades thrown to the four winds – and the thousands that get dumped in landfills after they fail or fall apart – blades full of Bisphenol A, a highly toxic substance, banned in most western countries on health grounds. Which means they can’t be recycled and are dumped, instead, as mountains of toxic waste.
Then there’s the 220 tonnes of coal used to make the steel in a single turbine; the 400-500m3 of steel reinforced concrete in each base; and a raft of other metals and toxic – and highly flammable – plastics, coolants and lubricants:
Oh, and almost forgot, then there’s the rare earths that are used in the magnets for their generators – millions of tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium – which have left China with toxic lakes, like poisonous inland seas surrounding the plants that produce them.
Also in the fantasy PR realm is the claim about “new technology” making these things as quiet as a mouse. Here’s some of that technology in concert:
And the notion that noise ‘remediation’ can work on homes – to protect the ability of neighbours to sleep in and otherwise enjoy their own homes – has been scotched long ago.
Clive and Trina Gare are cattle graziers with their home property situated between Hallett and Jamestown.
Since October 2010, the Gares have played host to 19, 2.1MW Suzlon s88 turbines, which sit on a range of hills to the West of their stately homestead. Under their contract with AGL they receive around $200,000 a year; and have pocketed over $1 million since the deal began.
On 10 June 2015, the Gares gave evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the great wind power fraud during its Adelaide hearing: [Hansard from the hearing is available here as HTML and here as a PDF (the Gare’s evidence commencing at p55)].
As an aside, that evidence completely contradicts the wind industry lie that turbine hosts never, ever complain; a piece of propaganda cooked up by its media manipulators – including a former tobacco advertising guru – who run the story that it’s only “jealous” wind farm neighbours who complain about wind turbine noise, “jealous” because they’re not getting paid.
The Gares pocket $200,000 a year for the ‘pleasure’ of hosting 19 of these things; and, yet, make it very clear that it was the worst decision of their lives.
In their evidence they describe the noise from turbines as “unbearable”; requiring earplugs and the noise from the radio to help them get to sleep at night; and the situation when the turbines first started operating in October 2010 as “Crap, to put it honestly” – evidence which is entirely consistent with the types of complaints made routinely by wind farm neighbours who don’t get paid, in Australia and around the world; and as detailed in the examples below.
The Gare’s evidence is also entirely consistent with the experience of David and Alida Mortimer, also paid to host turbines for Infigen at Lake Bonney, near Millicent in SA’s South-East (see our post here).
Despite AGL spending tens of thousands on noise “mitigation” measures – double glazing, sound deadening insulation and the like, the noise from turbines continues to ruin their ability to sleep in their own home, as Trina Gare put it:
No, they were waking me up on the weekend. You wake up to the thumping. This is with all the soundproofing in the house. As I said, I sleep with the radio on every night. If they are really cranked up I have to turn the volume up, so I will probably just go slowly deaf.
In her evidence Trina Gare stated, in the same terms as her husband Clive, that:
In my opinion, towers should not be any closer than five kilometres to a dwelling. If we had to buy another property, it would not be within a 20-kilometre distance to a wind farm. I think that says it all.
For more on the Gare’s experience, see our post here.
In short, Bloomberg’s panicked pontification on the ‘merits’ of wind power and the European Wind Energy Association’s bleating about some rules finally being enforced is mighty rich.
That the Polish government is doing what governments are supposed to do – namely representing power consumers and property owners (plenty of constituents do both) – is merely a sad indictment on those, like ours, that run lock-step with an industry that would kill its first born, if there was a sniff of a subsidy in it. More power to the Poles.