Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blades Peeling Apart "Piece by Piece"

Lightning and cold weather may be culprits at nearby Allegheny Ridge Wind Project.

Trade association: ‘Blade problems are rare’

Wind-energy experts say incidents such as the splintering of two blades and cracks in five others produced at Gamesa’s Cambria Township factory are rare.
The American Wind Energy Association views the problem as a fluke, an anomaly that turned up in a time-proven industry involving a highly respected company.
“We haven’t heard of anything like this before. There have been thousands of blades installed, and this is a first,” said Christine Real-de-Azua, spokeswoman for the wind energy national trade association, based in Washington, D.C.
“Offhand, this doesn’t seem like a big issue. We haven’t heard of any other problems.”
Gamesa officials as late as Friday continued to search for a cause of the Fiberglas skin cracking on the blades, which were installed during the past several months on turbines at Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm in Portage and Washington townships.
With the troublesome blades now being removed from the towers and two already back at the Ebensburg-area plant, Gamesa officials said they will continue the investigation until the mystery is solved.
“We’re still analyzing all of the information recorded,” plant manager Alberto Gros said Friday. “We’re going back to the original material we used, the transportation.”
The problem will have no impact on employment levels at the Ebensburg-area plant, Gros said.
Investigators, including two from Spain, are looking at the manufacturing process, shipping and installation of the 143-foot-long blades on the towers, he said. Attention will be paid to all aspects of the weather, including two extreme cold spells when some of the blades were installed.
“Lightning can be a problem,” Gros told officials from Portage and Washington townships last week. “We’re trying to get as much information as we can.”
The defect is showing as cracks on the Fiberglas membrane stretched over the harder Fiberglas and plastic blade form.
“We know they are not well bonded on the edge,” Gros said.
“We’re looking at that area.”
In addition, a team of experts is at the wind farm going over blades still on the towers.
The plant has turned out 360 blades so far, a number of which were shipped to wind farms in Texas and Illinois. Gros said skin cracking has not occurred in those areas.
Five defective blades at the Portage and Washington township farm were spotted by Gamesa workers after they were in place on the towers, while the side of a sixth splintered and fell to the ground. A larger outside percentage of the skin on a seventh blade came off and also fell, officials said.
“Piece by piece, they just peel apart,” said Gros, who has been with the company for 10 years.

Full Story: Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, March 24, 2007
HT: National Wind Watch

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Local Authorities Oppose Gamesa Plan

Water authority votes against wind farm

Windber Area Authority members voted to oppose a wind turbine project slated for the Shaffer Mountain area over concerns that the watershed will be negatively impacted.....
Chairman William Oldham said that as more information is publicly released, the more concerned he is with the project, which is slated to bring 30 turbines to the mountain.
The site's extensive road system and other details like the potential for a concrete batching plant worry him.“I think that we haven't been told enough.
I'm against them,” he said.The board subsequently voted 5-1 against the project as a whole.
That makes the authority the fourth governing body to make a resolution publicly opposing the watershed project in recent months.
Paint Township supervisors, Paint Borough council and Windber Borough council members have all voted against the project since February.
Where that leaves the project is still to be determined said Project Developer Tim Vought, who represented the company at the authority meeting....

Complete story »

Suit to be Filed to Stop Shaffer Mountain Windplant

Residents work to stop windmills

NEW PARIS - Residents determined to stop the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm have issued a notice of intent to file suit with federal and state agencies over environmental concerns.The notices were mailed March 2 by environmental attorney Bradley Tupi who is with Tucker/Arensburg Attorneys, Pittsburgh, and is representing several families within the project area.“We’re still […]
Complete story »

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise

Two British researchers, Barbara J. Frey and Peter J. Hadden, recently published a 137-page report on "Noise radiation from wind turbines installed near homes: Effects on health, with an annotated review of the research and related issues" (February 2007). See It's likely the best single source to date within the emerging body of documentation on health issues effected by industrial wind turbines. The report includes, by the way, a lengthy annecdotal compilation regarding property devaluations that occur when wind turbines are sited too close to dwellings and residential lands.

After voluminous documentation, the authors recommend a minimum setback of 2km (1.25 miles) from people's homes for turbines up to 2MW installed capacity, and larger setbacks for any turbines over 2MW.

Following is the report's abstract:
Wind turbines are large industrial structures that create obtrusive environmental noise pollution when built too close to dwellings. This annotated review of evidence and research by experts considers the impact of industrial-scale wind turbines suffered by those living nearby. First, the paper includes the comments by some of the families affected by wind turbines, as well as coverage in news media internationally. The experiences described put a human face to the science of acoustics.

Second, the paper reviews research articles within the field of acoustics concerning the acoustic properties of wind turbines and noise. The acoustic characteristics of wind turbines are complex and in combination produce acoustic radiation. Next, the paper reviews the health effects that may result from the acoustic radiation caused by wind turbines, as well as the health effects from noise, because the symptoms parallel one another. Primarily, the consequent health response includes sleep deprivation and the problems that ensue as a result. In addition, this paper reviews articles that report research about the body's response not only to the audible noise, but also to the inaudible components of noise that can adversely affect the body's physiology. Research points to a causal link between unwanted sound and sleep deprivation and stress, i.e., whole body physiologic responses.

These injuries are considered in the context of Human Rights, where it is contended that the environmental noise pollution destroys a person's effective enjoyment of right to respect for home and private life, a violation of Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights Act. Furthermore, the paper considers the consequent devaluation of a dwelling as a measure of part of the damage that arises when wind turbines are sited too close to a dwelling, causing acoustic radiation and consequent adverse health responses.

The review concludes that a safe buffer zone of at least 2km should exist between family dwellings and industrial wind turbines of up to 2MW installed capacity, with greater separation for a wind turbine greater than 2MW installed capacity

Hat Tip:
Save Western New York