In China, the true cost of “clean, green” wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale

By SIMON PARRY in China and ED DOUGLAS in Scotland, Daily Mail UK

On the outskirts of one of China’s most polluted cities, an old farmer stares despairingly out across an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste covered in black dust. He remembers it as fields of wheat and corn.

Yan Man Jia Hong is a dedicated Communist. At 74, he still believes in his revolutionary heroes, but he despises the young local officials and entrepreneurs who have let this happen.

‘Chairman Mao was a hero and saved us,’ he says. ‘But these people only care about money. They have destroyed our lives.’

Vast fortunes are being amassed here in Inner Mongolia; the region has more than 90 per cent of the world’s legal reserves of rare earth metals, and specifically neodymium, the element needed to make the magnets in the most striking of green energy producers, wind turbines.

Live has uncovered the distinctly dirty truth about the process used to extract neodymium: it has an appalling environmental impact that raises serious questions over the credibility of so-called green technology.

The reality is that, as Britain flaunts its environmental credentials by speckling its coastlines and unspoiled moors and mountains with thousands of wind turbines, it is contributing to a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China. This is the deadly and sinister side of the massively profitable rare-earths industry that the ‘green’ companies profiting from the demand for wind turbines would prefer you knew nothing about.

Hidden out of sight behind smoke-shrouded factory complexes in the city of Baotou, and patrolled by platoons of security guards, lies a five-mile wide ‘tailing’ lake. It has killed farmland for miles around, made thousands of people ill and put one of China’s key waterways in jeopardy.

This vast, hissing cauldron of chemicals is the dumping ground for seven million tons a year of mined rare earth after it has been doused in acid and chemicals and processed through red-hot furnaces to extract its components.

Rusting pipelines meander for miles from factories processing rare earths in Baotou out to the man-made lake where, mixed with water, the foul-smelling radioactive waste from this industrial process is pumped day after day. No signposts and no paved roads lead here, and as we approach security guards shoo us away and tail us. When we finally break through the cordon and climb sand dunes to reach its brim, an apocalyptic sight greets us: a giant, secret toxic dump, made bigger by every wind turbine we build.

The lake instantly assaults your senses. Stand on the black crust for just seconds and your eyes water and a powerful, acrid stench fills your lungs.

For hours after our visit, my stomach lurched and my head throbbed. We were there for only one hour, but those who live in Mr Yan’s village of Dalahai, and other villages around, breathe in the same poison every day.

Retired farmer Su Bairen, 69, who led us to the lake, says it was initially a novelty – a multi-coloured pond set in farmland as early rare earth factories run by the state-owned Baogang group of companies began work in the Sixties.

‘At first it was just a hole in the ground,’ he says. ‘When it dried in the winter and summer, it turned into a black crust and children would play on it. Then one or two of them fell through and drowned in the sludge below. Since then, children have stayed away.’

As more factories sprang up, the banks grew higher, the lake grew larger and the stench and fumes grew more overwhelming.

‘It turned into a mountain that towered over us,’ says Mr Su. ‘Anything we planted just withered, then our animals started to sicken and die.’

People too began to suffer. Dalahai villagers say their teeth began to fall out, their hair turned white at unusually young ages, and they suffered from severe skin and respiratory diseases. Children were born with soft bones and cancer rates rocketed.

Official studies carried out five years ago in Dalahai village confirmed there were unusually high rates of cancer along with high rates of osteoporosis and skin and respiratory diseases. The lake’s radiation levels are ten times higher than in the surrounding countryside, the studies found.

Since then, maybe because of pressure from the companies operating around the lake, which pump out waste 24 hours a day, the results of ongoing radiation and toxicity tests carried out on the lake have been kept secret and officials have refused to publicly acknowledge health risks to nearby villages.

There are 17 ‘rare earth metals’ – the name doesn’t mean they are necessarily in short supply; it refers to the fact that the metals occur in scattered deposits of minerals, rather than concentrated ores. Rare earth metals usually occur together, and, once mined, have to be separated.

Neodymium is commonly used as part of a Neodymium-Iron-Boron alloy (Nd2Fe14B) which, thanks to its tetragonal crystal structure, is used to make the most powerful magnets in the world. Electric motors and generators rely on the basic principles of electromagnetism, and the stronger the magnets they use, the more efficient they can be. It’s been used in small quantities in common technologies for quite a long time – hi-fi speakers, hard drives and lasers, for example. But only with the rise of alternative energy solutions has neodymium really come to prominence, for use in hybrid cars and wind turbines. A direct-drive permanent-magnet generator for a top capacity wind turbine would use 4,400lb of neodymium-based permanent magnet material.

In the pollution-blighted city of Baotou, most people wear face masks everywhere they go.

‘You have to wear one otherwise the dust gets into your lungs and poisons you,’ our taxi driver tells us, pulling over so we can buy white cloth masks from a roadside hawker.

Posing as buyers, we visit Baotou Xijun Rare Earth Co Ltd. A large billboard in front of the factory shows an idyllic image of fields of sheep grazing in green fields with wind turbines in the background.

In a smartly appointed boardroom, Vice General Manager Cheng Qing tells us proudly that his company is the fourth biggest producer of rare earth metals in China, processing 30,000 tons a year. He leads us down to a complex of primitive workshops where workers with no protective clothing except for cotton gloves and face masks ladle molten rare earth from furnaces with temperatures of 1,000°C.

The result is 1.5kg bricks of neodymium, packed into blue barrels weighing 250kg each. Its price has more than doubled in the past year – it now costs around £80 per kilogram. So a 1.5kg block would be worth £120 – or more than a fortnight’s wages for the workers handling them. The waste from this highly toxic process ends up being pumped into the lake looming over Dalahai.

The state-owned Baogang Group, which operates most of the factories in Baotou, claims it invests tens of millions of pounds a year in environmental protection and processes the waste before it is discharged.

According to Du Youlu of Baogang’s safety and environmental protection department, seven million tons of waste a year was discharged into the lake, which is already 100ft high and growing by three feet each year.

In what appeared an attempt to shift responsibility onto China’s national leaders and their close control of the rare earths industry, he added: ‘The tailing is a national resource and China will ultimately decide what will be done with the lake.’

Jamie Choi, an expert on toxics for Greenpeace China, says villagers living near the lake face horrendous health risks from the carcinogenic and radioactive waste.

‘There’s not one step of the rare earth mining process that is not disastrous for the environment. Ores are being extracted by pumping acid into the ground, and then they are processed using more acid and chemicals.

Finally they are dumped into tailing lakes that are often very poorly constructed and maintained. And throughout this process, large amounts of highly toxic acids, heavy metals and other chemicals are emitted into the air that people breathe, and leak into surface and ground water. Villagers rely on this for irrigation of their crops and for drinking water. Whenever we purchase products that contain rare earth metals, we are unknowingly taking part in massive environmental degradation and the destruction of communities.’

The fact that the wind-turbine industry relies on neodymium, which even in legal factories has a catastrophic environmental impact, is an irony Ms Choi acknowledges.

‘It is a real dilemma for environmentalists who want to see the growth of the industry,’ she says. ‘But we have the responsibility to recognise the environmental destruction that is being caused while making these wind turbines.’

It’s a long way from the grim conditions in Baotou to the raw beauty of the Monadhliath mountains in Scotland. But the environmental damage wind turbines cause will be felt here, too. These hills are the latest battleground in a war being fought all over Britain – and particularly in Scotland – between wind-farm developers and those opposed to them.

Cameron McNeish, a hill walker and TV presenter who lives in the Monadhliath, campaigned for almost a decade against the Dunmaglass wind farm before the Scottish government gave the go-ahead in December. Soon, 33 turbines will be erected on the hills north of the upper Findhorn valley.

McNeish is passionate about this landscape: ‘It’s vast and wild and isolated,’ he says. Huge empty spaces, however, are also perfect for wind turbines and unlike the nearby Cairngorms there are no landscape designations to protect this area. When the Labour government put in place the policy framework and subsidies to boost renewable energy, the Monadhliath became a mouth-watering opportunity.

People have been trying to make real money from Scottish estates like Jack Hayward’s Dunmaglass. Hayward, a Bermuda-based property developer and former chairman of Wolverhampton Wanderers, struck a deal with renewable energy company RES which, campaigners believe, will earn the estate an estimated £9 million over the next 25 years.

Each of the turbines at Dunmaglass will require servicing, which means a network of new and improved roads 20 miles long being built across the hills. They also need 1,500 tons of concrete foundations to keep them upright in a strong wind, which will scar the area.

Dunmaglass is just one among scores of wind farms in Scotland with planning permission. Scores more are still in the planning system. There are currently 3,153 turbines in the UK overall, with a maximum capacity of 5,203 megawatts.

Around half of them are in Scotland. First Minister Alex Salmond and the Scottish government have said they want to get 80 per cent of Scotland’s electricity from renewables by 2020, which means more turbines spread across the country’s hills and moors.

Many environmental pressure groups share Salmond’s view. Friends of the Earth opposes the Arctic being ruined by oil extraction, but when it comes to damaging Scotland’s wilderness with concrete and hundreds of miles of roads, they say wind energy is worth it as the impact of climate change has to be faced.

‘No way of generating energy is 100 per cent clean and problem-free,’ says Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns at Friends of the Earth.

‘Wind energy causes far fewer problems than coal, gas or nuclear. If we don’t invest in green energy, business experts have warned that future generations will be landed with a bill that will dwarf the current financial crisis. But we need to ensure the use of materials like neodymium and concrete is kept to a minimum, that turbines use recycled materials wherever possible and that they are carefully sited to the reduce the already minimal impact on bird populations.’

But Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust, a small but feisty campaign group dedicated to protecting Scotland’s wild lands, also points out that leaving aside the damage to the landscape, nobody is really sure how much carbon is being released by the renewable energy construction boom. Peat moors lock up huge amounts of carbon, which gets released when it’s drained to put up a turbine.

Environmental considerations aside, as the percentage of electricity generated by wind increases, renewable energy is coming under a lot more scrutiny now for one simple reason – money. We pay extra for wind power – around twice as much – because it can’t compete with other forms of electricity generation. Under the Renewable Obligation (RO), suppliers have to buy a percentage of their electricity from renewable generators and can hand that cost on to consumers. If they don’t, they pay a fine instead.

One unit cell of Nd2Fe14b, the alloy used in neodymium magnets. The structure of the atoms gives the alloy its magnetic strength, due to a phenomenon known as magnetocrystalline anisotropy

There’s a simple beauty about RO for the government. Even though it’s defined as a tax, it doesn’t come out of pay packets but is stuck on our electricity bills. That has made funding wind farms a lot easier for the government than more cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

‘If you want a grant for an energy conservation project on your house,’ says Helen McDade, ‘the money comes from taxes. But investment for turbines comes from energy companies.’

Already, RO adds £1.4 billion to our bills each year to provide a pot of money to pay power companies for their ‘green’ electricity. By 2020, the figure will have risen to somewhere between £5 billion and £10 billion.

When he was Chancellor, Gordon Brown added another decade to these price guarantees, extending the RO scheme to 2037, guaranteeing the subsidy for more than a quarter of a century.

It’s not surprising there’s been an avalanche of wind-farm applications in the Highlands. Wind speeds are stronger, land is cheaper and the government loves you.

‘You go to a landowner,’ McDade says, ‘and offer him what is peanuts to an energy company yet keeps him happily on his estate so they can put up a wind farm, which in turn raises ordinary people’s electricity bills. There’s a social issue here that doesn’t get discussed.’

By 2020, environmental regulation will be adding 31 per cent to our bills. That’s £160 green tax out of an average annual bill of £512. As costs rise, more people will be driven into fuel poverty. When he was secretary of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband decreed that these increases should be offset by improvements in energy efficiencies.

It’s a view shared by his successor Chris Huhne, who says inflation due to RO will be effectively one per cent. Britain’s low-income families, facing hikes in petrol and food costs, will hope he’s right.

Individual households aren’t the only ones shouldering the costs. Industry faces an even bigger burden. By 2020, environmental charges will add 33 per cent to industry’s energy costs.

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, says that, ‘Industry is getting the worst of both worlds. Around 80 per cent of the contracts for the new Thanet offshore wind farm (off the coast of Kent) went abroad, but the expensive electricity will be paid for here.’

Our current obsession with wind power, according to John Constable of energy think-tank the Renewable Energy Foundation, stems from the decision of the European Union on how to tackle climate change. Instead of just setting targets for reducing emissions, the EU told governments that by 2020, 15 per cent of all the energy we use must come from renewable sources.

Because of how we heat our houses and run our cars with gas and petrol, 30 per cent of electricity needs to come from renewables. And in the absence of other technologies, that means wind turbines. But there’s a structural flaw in the plan, which this winter has brutally exposed.

Study a graph of electricity consumption and it appears amazingly predictable, even down to reduced demand on public holidays. The graph for wind energy output, however, is far less predictable.

Take the figures for December, when we all shivered through sub-zero temperatures and wholesale electricity prices surged. Peak demand for the UK on 20 December was just over 60,000 megawatts. Maximum capacity for wind turbines throughout the UK is 5,891 megawatts, almost ten per cent of that peak demand figure.

Yet on December 20, because winds were light or non-existent, wind energy contributed a paltry 140 megawatts. Despite billions of pounds in investment and subsidies, Britain’s wind-turbine fleet was producing a feeble 2.43 per cent of its own capacity – and little more than 0.2 per cent of the nation’s electricity in the coldest month since records began.

The problems with the intermittency of wind energy are well known. A new network of cables linking ten countries around the North Sea is being suggested to smooth supply and take advantage of 140 gigawatts of offshore wind power. No one knows for sure how much this network will cost, although a figure of £25 billion has been mooted.

The government has also realised that when wind nears its target of 30 per cent, power companies will need more back-up to fill the gap when the wind doesn’t blow. Britain’s total capacity will need to rise from 76 gigawatts up to 120 gigawatts. That overcapacity will need another £50 billion and drive down prices when the wind’s blowing. Power companies are anxious about getting a decent price. Once again, consumers will pay.

Wind power’s uncertainties don’t end with intermittency. There is huge controversy about how much energy a wind farm will produce. Many developers claim their installations will achieve 30 per cent of their maximum output over the course of a year. More sober energy analysts suggest 26 per cent. But even that figure is starting to look generous. In December, the average figure was less than 21 per cent. In the year between October 2009 and September 2010, the average was 23.6 per cent, still nowhere near industry claims.

Then there’s the thorny question of how many homes new installations can power. According to wind farm developers like Scottish and Southern Electricity, a house uses 3.3MWh in a year. Lobby group RenewablesUK – formerly the British Wind Energy Association – gives a figure of 4.7MWh. In the Highlands electricity usage is even higher.

Last year, a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering warned that transforming our energy supply to produce a low-carbon economy would require the biggest investment and social change seen in peacetime. And yet Professor Sue Ion, who led the report, warned, ‘We are nowhere near having a plan.’

So, against the backdrop of environmental catastrophe in China and these less than attractive calculations, could the billions being thrown at wind farms be better spent? Undoubtedly, says John Constable.

‘The government is betting the farm on the throw of a die. What’s happening now is simply reckless.’

The British energy market is a hugely complicated and ever-changing landscape. We rely on a number of different sources for our energy – some more efficient than others, some more polluting than others.

Here, you can see how much energy each type contributes, how much they are predicted to contribute in 2020, how much carbon dioxide they generate and how efficient they are.

Renewable energy sources receive varying subsidies – which are added to our energy bills – as a result of the government’s Renewables Obligation, whereas ‘traditional’ sources do not.

Critically, government cost figures do not include subsidies, whereas our measure shows precisely how much money a power station receives for each megawatt-hour (MWh) it produces, which includes the price paid for the energy by the supplier and any applicable subsidy. This is an instant measure of an energy supply’s cost-efficiency; the lower the figure, the less that energy costs to produce.

32 thoughts on “In China, the true cost of “clean, green” wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale

  1. This is why most wind manufacturers are abandoning direct-drive and going back to gear driven motors. Rare earth metals are not essential for wind power.

  2. The world’s eco-nuts and eco-nut groups like Green Peace have led the people into this situation. Now they are finding out this “ain’t gona work”

    Elected officials from all parties failed to do their homework on “green” energy issues.

    The wind developers and eco-nuts got away with this all over the world until they got to Ontario where Ontarians are refusing to accept wind turbine propaganda.

    Many,many Ontarians have stood up and said NO you are not doing this to us.!!!

  3. Oh my gosh, this is hard to read.
    Message to Gideon Forman: I hope you read this entire article.
    Try to continue flogging your wind agenda. If you and your CAPE members were any type of environmentalists you would be screaming for an end to this. Good doctors indeed.

    I can hear it now, just as in the Liberal party’s private backroom…WE MUST STAY ON MESSAGE….WE MUST NOT STRAY FROM OUR POSITION…WE MUST HOLD OUR BREATH WHILE THE DISEMPOWERED CONTINUE TO SICKEN…..
    Ughhh…this is real life McGuinty! Get with it!

  4. China: “there is an “acceptable” loss of human lives when it involves the Greening” of the country.

    Ontario: “there is an “acceptable” loss of human health when it involves the “greening” of the Province.

    Of course there will never be a written word that would confirm the above but one has to be blind if they can’t see the true results of this Green Folly!

  5. I think it would be of more benefit to send the articles to the doctors on the executive of CAPE.

    Perhaps the whole membership should receive the article.

  6. People are not caretakers of our planet if they blindly support industrialization to promote wind power regardless of environmental consequences. Our wild spaces have always been under pressure and the twisted green agenda opened the door to make industrialization possible.

  7. Wind turbines require rare earth metals. If China follows through on a cut back of exporting rare earth metals there will be a shortage and less industrial wind turbines, especially Vestas and Siemens. Efforts are being made to reduce how much rare earth metal is needed at GE but that is at best a few years off.

  8. The rare earth magnetic elements will also become a national security issue with China controlling most of the earth’s known supplies.

    Advanced military weapons also use these rare earth elements in their electronics.

  9. Scale matters, impacts matter; we cannot approach renewables with the same broken processes that developed oil/gas/coal/nuclear.

    Communities need to drive and share in jobs and take responsibility for impacts.

  10. Gear driven Industrial Wind Turbines are noisy and take oil. Crap technology.

  11. How about the “cost” of all of this???…like computer drives (50 percent of the element is still used in computer hard drives) or mobile phones, portable CD player, blackberry’s, iPod’s, MRI machines, fuel cracking catalysts, glass, laser pointers, color-enhancing filters in photography, fluorescent lights, energy efficient lighting, color televisions, color enamels and glazes, lighter flints, automobile rear-view mirrors, astronomical work, welding goggles and air conditioners. Neodymium magnets appear in products such as cordless tools, security systems, metal detectors, microphones, professional loudspeakers, in-ear headphones, guitar and bass guitar pick-ups, as well as, being used in wind turbines and a large variety of motors and mechanical systems, some for anti-lock brakes (ABS), power steering and air bags. Makers of catalysts for the oil-refining industry are among the major users of rare earths in the U.S. Again, 50% of the world’s neodymium magnets are currently used in computer hard disk drives (HDD) with each HDD typically containing two magnets.

  12. Yes JK, you are correct, however, maybe you should read the article again. Just ONE wind turbine uses 4,400 POUNDS of the stuff. Currently, there are over 100,000 industrial wind turbines on the planet. Do the math!

    BTW, one can purchase computers today no hard drives or any magnetic media of any kind. In fact, I’m holding in my hand right now; 32GB of portable data storage that is smaller then my thumb and not one moving part or bit of rare earth…

    Sure most electric motors use rare earths but purely electro-magnetic motors have existed for decades. Today, by far the largest use for rare earths is WIND TURBINES! Now, maybe this would be a problem if these damn things weren’t so USELESS at actually producing electricity.

    From the article:

    “‘Wind energy causes far fewer problems than coal, gas or nuclear.”

    OK, I’ll bite; what problems does coal or nuclear have for which perfectly workable solutions do not exist? Sure, at some point in the future coal will run out, but nuclear energy if done correctly will outlast the estimated remaining life of our sun!

    “Coal produces CO2” you say? I say “SO!” How is this a problem? Trees most certainly don’t think so!

    If using biofuels is supposedly effective because next year’s bio-crop will absorb last year’s bio-CO2, I ask: “What the hell do you think it was that made all that coal”? It is the “bio-crop” that grew millions of years ago!

    If gas is such a problem why has its use skyrocketed in lock step with wind? The greenies say gas “backs up” wind. NO IT DOESN’T! Gas does the heavy lifting for egregiously unreliable wind.

    It occurs to me that our “conventional” energy supplies would be one HELLUVA LOT LESS harmful to the environment if the greenies STOPPED preventing us from CLEANING THEM UP like the lying Liberals did here in Ontario!

    I challenge ANYONE to go spend your hard-earned money buying ANYTHING that you could NOT rely on over 70% of the time!

    Why then do our governments feel that they can spend your hard earned money doing exactly that?!

    If humanity doesn’t discover we have a brain soon; my children are screwed!

    B.B.W.

  13. I note from the article that: A direct-drive permanent-magnet generator for a top capacity wind turbine would use 4,400lb of neodymium-based permanent magnet material.
    This is a huge amount for one turbine? That seems like enough to power a lot of cell phones and hard drives, etc. There have been articles in the news of China stating it would cut back on exports of rare earths, thus opening the door to California’s molly mine, check it out http://www.molycorp.com/ and the article with background on this mine: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/clean-energy-apos-s-dirty-little-secret/7377/. Australia has a molly mine and Chinese investors (Hanlong 55% owner of shares) have threatened to cut back on current funding.
    Reading all of this just proves GREEN has been usurped by unscrupulous moneychangers and the likes of Greenpeace and CAPE are the unwitting praying to this totem.
    THERE IS NOTHING GREEN ABOUT MERCURY FILLED LIGHT BULBS AND UNPRODUCTIVE WIND TURBINES AND ALL THE OTHER SO CALLED ‘GREEN’ PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET. WE ARE SLOWLY BEGINNING TO REALIZE WE ARE BEING SCAMMED!

  14. At the top of the very tall wind turbine “pole” the generator must balance with the propeller. Since the propeller is made from light weight material then the generator has to be the same weight as the propeller or the whole thing will collapse.

    Using mostly iron as magnetic material in the generator makes the generator too heavy so neodymium which is lighter in weight and also a magnetic material is used. Iron is much heavier than neodymium.

    This is just a very simple explanation but easy for the non-scientific to understand.

    Eco-nuts don’t seem to be able to understand cause and effect when the promote their ideas.

  15. For example:

    If Ontario were to install 7,000 direct-drive wind turbines then this would be 7,000 x 4,400 lbs of neodymium based permanent magnet material for a total of 30,800,000 lbs of magnetic material.

    This sure will do wonders for the sustainability of planet earth and the environment!

  16. Some people, such as John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser and David Cameron of Avitar fame would probably applaud China for trying to kill off some of their population in order to save the planet!

    These guys, like Suzuki, James Lovelock, Maurice Strong, Rockefeller, DeRothschild and on and on, all believe in Gaia worship and that there are way too many low life humans occupying this planet….after all the this planet was created for just them and their “type” of people!….don’t believe me?………..just start researching………….start with Eugenics, “google “Sustainable”, try reading, if you have the patience of a Saint, Agenda 21…………….then get back to me………..killing off humanity is good for the Earth!

  17. The wind turbine industry does not rely on neodymium. In fact most turbines do not use direct-drive generators. Only some of the newest wind power generators use permanent magnets. China produces 95% of the supply of neodymium and uses more then half of that supply themselves. They want to keep it to themselves. Why should we have all the toys? China also wants the neodymium for their turbines. So, we will have to turn to other options. The mining has been done since the 80’s and now suddenly you care! Give me a break! Goggle this…”Does a Clean Energy Revolution Need Rare Earths?”

    One of the costs of coal.

    THE DISASTER

    The worst coal mining disaster in Canada occurred in Hillcrest, Alberta, on Friday June 19, 1914. A total of 189 men died. 130 women were widowed and 400 children left fatherless.

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    Stretton, Edward
    Tamborini, Albert
    Tamborini, Baldo
    Taylor, Thomas
    Thaczuk, John
    Thomas, Deo
    Trump, William
    Turner, Thomas
    Turner, William
    Tyron, Mike
    Vendrasco, Fred
    Vohradsky, Joseph
    Vohradsky, Vince
    Walker, Donald J.
    Wallis, Rod
    Wilson, Thomas L.
    Zahara, John
    Zamis, Luis
    Zapisocki, WasyI
    Zaska, Michael

    Another cost of coal…Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoOIB3_7bzU&NR=1

    Coal, it might be cheap, but it sure is costly!

  18. Yes… no one will deny coal mining is a terrible affliction for both man and the environment. But the industrialization of the natural and rural landscape is not the solution to our insatiable energy needs.

    What many residents want is an energy policy where solar, wind, thermal, and other sources of energy can be created right in our own homes and communities. Where every house and community can become a little power plant. Where environmental impacts will be much, much smaller and more removed from our drinking water and food supplies, and will create local jobs, create local energy security and lessen the environmental footprint. Not support massive subsidies for large scale projects that are subject to change and fluctuation to supply energy to a grid that exports energy out of province, benefits only a few, does not increase energy security and stomps on the environment.

    There are better and less invasive technologies…. check out … http://bigthink.com/ideas/26597 or http://windspireenergy.com/ or
    http://www.cleanfieldenergy.com/ or http://www.hawksford.eu/windpower.htm

    VAWT advantages
    Can produce 50% more electricity per year over conventional systems with the same swept area.
    Massive towers not required. Mount closer to the ground.
    No yaw mechanisms and no gearbox’s. Accepts wind from all directions. This means less moving parts to breakdown, no leaking oil and more efficient transfer of power.
    Can be located nearer the ground…easier to maintain.
    Starts to generate at much lower speeds…6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).
    Continues to generate in extremely high wind speeds.
    May be deployed where taller structures are prohibited.
    More flexible installation ability can take advantage of mesas, hilltops, ridgelines, and passes the funnel the wind and increase velocity.
    Will not harm wildlife. Birds see them as a solid object and steer clear.
    Best of all…they are virtually silent!

  19. Thanks, Millbrook Jane. Please run for leader of the provincial Liberals.

  20. JK if you are going to champion on the side of the environment, I suggest you first learn something about it!

    So coal mining and use are bad… If you were expecting an argument from me, well, other then the CO2 thing, you’re not going to get one.

    As for death and devastation…

    What about HYDRO!? That’s right, green house gas free HYDRO.

    Worst energy related disaster in history was a hydro dam failure in China in 1975:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

    According to the Hydrology Department of Henan Province,[5] in the province, approximately 26,000 people died from flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine. In addition, about 5,960,000 buildings collapsed, and 11 million residents were affected. The death toll of this disaster was declassified in 2005.[1]

    You will excuse me for NOT listing all 171,000 names here! Like the Chinese government gives a damn!

    Then there is the UTTER ENVIRONMENTAL DEVASTATION caused by flooding to create all these reservoirs (China alone has over 80,000 dams), ruined river eco systems, destroyed habitat for fish, fauna and flora and all the life that would have flourished in these areas.

    I am talking about the centuries old devastation cause by ONLY water dams in one country only –China.

    This very SAME COUNTRY could give a fiddler’s DAMN about the environment while she pumps out wind turbines and solar panels as fast as possible to feed the ABJECT GREED of GREEN ENERGY PROPONENTS who would not exist without OBSCENE SUBSIDIES in the first place!

    ALL THE WHILE telling their green lies so they can become rich while the masses are SUBVERTED, ROBBED and VICTIMIZED!

    Oh, and if rare earths were not needed for wind turbines, why would China want to cut back rare earth exports?

    Pretty obvious, unless you’re a simpleton! SHE WANTS TO BUILD MORE WIND TURBINES FOR EXPORT!

    HUMANITY ALREADY HAS ALL THE POLLUTION FREE “GREEN” ENERGY WE WILL EVER NEED FOREVER!

    And guess who is now starting to embrace this? That’s right CHINA! For her own INTERNAL USE! No plans on exporting this!
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/02/01/047232/China-Starts-Molten-Salt-Nuclear-Reactor-Project

    We have enough energy sitting in our current stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel that if it were reprocessed and recycled, Ontario would need NO OTHER SOURCE FOR ELECTRICAL GENERATION FOR OVER 250 YEARS!

    Yes you read that right! This spent fuel that you damn greenies love to hate can still supply ALMOST TWO ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE (100 times) MORE energy then has already been extracted from it.

    China knows this!

    Maybe you wannabe environmentalists can try and get your challenged intellect around THAT BEFORE you go crazy on “alternative energy” at OUR EXPENSE!

    Some of us actually KNOW what we’re talking about, like Millbrook Jane for example!!!

    AARRGGHH!

    B.B.W.

  21. Well I can agree that Millbrook Jane appears to be giving some thought to the issues at hand. I can appreciate her opinions. Now I do not total agree with what she has put on the table. That is the way of the world. To B.B.W, “foaming at the mouth” and insulting others gets one nowhere. Most of the time I don’t understand what you are talking about. Clarify for me what it is you believe is the solution to our demand for electricity.

  22. JK Smith there is no solution in building industrial wind turbines. Never was. Many industries have the means of becoming cleaner, including coal and oil, but fail to do so because of the need to increase profits. Creating the means to keep power production close to where it is needed should be promoted and packaged. No one would argue if they had a chance to become electricity self sufficient.

  23. The issue is that any kind of wind machine used to produce electricity depends ON WIND. So if the wind dosen’t blow you don’t get any electricity. Also wind has a very low energy density. Not much energy can be derived from wind.

    So you get the same problems of unreliable supply of electricity and it’s non-dispatchable electricity. So backup is required.

  24. Vibro-wind is very much a concept at the start of research. “More research still needs to be done, but early findings show wind vibration energy is a source of hope for finding a way to getting cheap and sustainable energy in populated areas.”

    VAWT’s (vertical axis wind turbines), otherwise know as “urban turbines”, are further along but they remain unproven. There does not appear to be any successful independent data available on power output and performance. Actual energy output in a given location is critical to advance this concept. Cleanfield “talks the talk” but having been involved in “selling” their product since 2002 in Ontario…there is no data on actual output. If the 2007 installation in Kenora was a success, would they not be publishing their results? What about electricity output data from McMaster. Where are the results, the hard numbers?

    My search on VAWT’s shows them to be less efficient then HAWT’s. Efficiency of 5-15% vs. 20-40%. Less energy production, less reliable and less financially viable. That is likely why urban turbines are not being used…they make no economical sense.

    The other factor is the lower windspeeds and more turbulent winds in an urban centre. Urban turbines simply do not work!

    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2010-09-16/real-world-tests-small-wind-turbines-netherlands-and-uk
    http://www.wind-power-program.com/small_turbines.htm
    http://www.which.co.uk/news/2009/07/uks-largest-wind-turbine-trial-yields-poor-result-179850/
    http://cooltheearth.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/urban-wind-turbines-suck/
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/ask-our-experts/windspire-performance.aspx
    http://www.wind-works.org/SmallTurbines/MariahAnotherPerformanceReportonWindspireVAWT.html

    I certainly am not an expert in the field of wind energy. I have however spent a considerable amount of time researching going off the grid. The system (hybrid wind/solar) required even if we were to use less than 3000KW/year is considerable.

  25. So, if no to wind of any kind…what is the solution going forward???

  26. JK Smith…

    You seem to be implying that there was a problem with the Ontario Electrical Generation System, and that Wind Power presents a solution to the problem.

    What exactly was the problem?

  27. “Most of the time I don’t understand what you are talking about.”

    JK, that is a failing on your part, not mine!

    Go here; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/till.html
    and here; http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA378.html

    For expert explaination of what I’m “foaming at the mouth” about.

    This technology is and has been since it was first visited in 1946, the “solution going forward” you are looking for.

    Here is what is possible today; http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

    Concentrating on what has never worked VS that which has is hardly the road to success!

    We’re going to have to do this at some point in the very near future if humanity wants to continue on this planet. There is no valid scientific, technological, economical or environmental reason why we can’t do this now.

    Very soon, we absolutely WILL NOT have a choice!

    B.B.W.

  28. People fail to understand that any machine that depends on wind to make it work is depending on an unreliable machine for producing electricity. All wind machines require backup.

    They also fail to understand the energy density of the various sources for electricity like coal,oil,gas,solar,wind ,water,nuclear and they don’t understand how to compare these sources to one another for the amont of energy and reliability they have.

    Which of these sources requires backup and is a relaible,dispatchable source of electricity some people never consider this issue.

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