Frequently Asked Questions


What are the environmental benefits of wind energy?

Unlike the processing and use of fossil fuels, there is no water, air, or thermal pollution when wind energy produces electricity.  Wind energy is economically beneficial in that it provides price stability and a hedge against escalating fossil fuel prices in addition to being environmentally clean.  As wind energy production becomes more efficient, costs will decline, while fossil fuel prices traditionally rise.

How does wind energy affect air pollution?

Unlike the production of fossil fuels, wind energy does not produce toxic gases such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide, and carbon dioxide.  These gases have been linked to water pollution, health effects, and damage to rain forests.

How does wind energy affect our water?

Most traditional methods of producing energy use a vast amount of water to generate electricity.  Wind energy uses virtually none of this precious commodity for the production of energy.

What other environmental effects does wind energy minimize?

The footprint of a turbine takes up a fraction of the land necessary to create electricity in comparison to the production of fossil fuels.  In addition, post decommissioning the land can be returned to its natural habitat, unlike nuclear and coal generation.

Do wind turbines kill birds?

Research shows that wind turbines kill relatively few birds compared with other causes such as utility lines, windows, pesticides, motor vehicles, lighted communication towers, domestic cats, and extraction of fossil fuels.  The most noteworthy threat to birds and their habitats comes from climate change conditions and the loss of their respective natural habitat.

Do wind turbines kill bats?

Bats killed by wind turbines are predominately species that tely on trees as roosts throughout the year and migrate long distances; these species are called “migratory tree bats.”  Currently, migratory tree bats compost more than three-quarters of the bat fatalities observed at wind energy sites and fatalities typically occur during late summer and autumn.

Are environmental studies conducted prior to construction beginning?

There are numerous studies that are required and must be reviewed and approved by agencies and municipalities prior to beginning construction on a wind farm.  These studies include: numerous wildlife species, wetland identification, noise, visual, geotechnical, electrical transmission, aeronautical and communications interference.

Are wind energy turbines supported by any environmental groups?

Yes, there are several organizations that support wind energy, including the Sierra Club and Nature Canada.

What type of noise is generated by wind energy turbines?

Wind energy turbines emit sound.  The advances in technology make the sound heard from the turbine almost undetectable.  The main sound being the smooth swoosh of the blades passing over the tower and some sound from the mechanical gearing when the turbine rotates.  Strict manufacturer guidelines allow for noise emissions to either meet or exceed residential and municipal ordinances.  Siting, ground cover and ambient noise all affect the decibel (dB) level heard at any given time.

Does low-frequency noise from wind turbines pose any health concerns?

Measurements of wind turbine noise undertaken in Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States over the past decade, and accepted by experienced noise professionals, have shown that the levels of infrasonic noise and vibration radiated from modern wind turbines are at a very low level; so low, that they lie below the threshold of perception, even for those people who are particularly sensitive to such noise.  Proper setbacks from homes reduce concerns of any perceived health risks.

What is shadow flicker?

Shadow flicker is caused by shadows created by blades rotating in low-angle sun light.  No shadow flicker is cast when the sun is obscured by clouds/fog or when the turbine is not rotating.  Analysis related to flicker is required during project development.  It identifies where and how long any flicker lasts on any given day.  Due to large setback requirements (environmental, residences, noise, etc.) shadow flicker should not impact nearby homes and human activities.

Do wind turbines affect property values?

Studies in both Canada  and the United States  have indicated that wind development does not have an adverse effect on property values.  A three-year study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concludes “neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes.”

Do wind turbines affect individuals who have epileptic seizures?

Epilepsy Action performed a survey in 2007 to determine whether wind turbines can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.  It was available on their website for one month and advertised through Epilepsy Action’s newsletters and online community.  Twenty-six people responded to the survey and only one of them reported that they had a seizure brought on while looking at a wind turbine.  However, since this person does not have photosensitive epilepsy, it was difficult to conclude whether or not the seizure was actually caused by the wind turbine.

What the economic benefits to the community?

Wind energy development provides a number of economic benefits to the communities in which the projects are located.  Some of the major benefits are:

  • Tax Revenue – Critical funding will be made available for the community through sales, production, and property taxes, which helps to pay for such items as schools, police, firefighters, etc.
  • Employment – The average wind farm will create somewhere between 150 – 200 jobs during construction and between 10 – 15 good paying permanent jobs over the life of the project.  These workers will demand additional goods and services within the community which will spur further job growth.
  • Local Consumption – Both during construction and the lifetime of a wind farm, there are considerable ($ millions) goods and services purchased in the community, which in turn allows local businesses to expand.
  • Landowner Revenue – Revenues paid to landowners for leasing of property allows the individuals to diversify income sources and continue to successfully operate agricultural operations.

 

Are farm livestock affect by wind energy turbines?

Due to concerns about electrical interference in livestock, several safety measures such as burying electric feeder lines and increased grounding infrastructure among other design enhancements have proven wind energy is safe to livestock.

Does the wind turbine disrupt agriculture?

The space required between turbines allows the farmers to fully continue the use of the ground whether farming or grazing.  During construction only a small footprint is required, ideally wind turbines are sited with input from the landowner, in a way that least impacts farming/ranching operations.

How does the wind generate electricity?

Wind energy turns the turbine blade, which rotate an electronic generator.  The generator produces DC (Direct Current) electricity, which through a power converter is turned into AC (Alternating Current) electricity that then can be used in homes and businesses.

How safe are wind energy turbines?

Wind energy turbines are one of the safest energy technologies.  They have been in operation in North America over the last 25 years.  Safety concerns are mitigated by setbacks and safety policies and procedures to protect the community and landowner, as well as those working around the turbines.