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Fact Check

Common misconceptions regarding wind energy

There are many misconceptions regarding wind energy. You need to check that the source of your information is ‘peer reviewed’.
We would advise anyone with an interest in the area to go and visit a wind farm

There are some myths that are often put out there by those opposed to wind energy for one reason or another and we would like to take this opportunity to deal with them.

1. “The electricity is for the Irish Grid System"

Claims that the electricity will be for export

The electricity is not for export. All electricity produced by the proposed Coole Wind Farm would feed into the Irish Grid System.

2. All cables will be place underground

Claims that the proposed wind farm will require the construction of overhead power lines

There will be no overhead power lines associated with this project. Although a more expensive option, all cables associated with the proposed Coole Wind Farm will be placed underground.”

3. Wind farm noise not an issue

It is often stated that “Noise is a huge issue”.

In fact, there are over 1,400 turbines in Ireland with more than 25,000 people living within 2km of those sites, i.e. within the 10x rotor diameter exclusion zone which some people will lead you to believe is required. Over the last decade, we are aware of no more than only a handful of cases who have said they are disturbed by noise. The complaint rate is c. 0.02%, hardly a ‘huge issue’ as claimed.
On the link of “Living with wind” located in the useful links section, you can hear the first-hand experiences of neighbours of wind farms from all over Ireland. Modern wind turbines produce a sound which is very like that made by wind blowing through a forest. When set well back from homes and located according to the current guidelines, as will be the case on any wind farm we seek to develop, there is quite simply no issue with the sound from a well constructed and appropriately developed wind farm.

4. Wind turbines will be removed when no longer required

There are claims that wind turbines will end up "rust buckets" in the sky

As a matter of course and as part of any planning application, Statkraft commit to putting a decommissioning bond in place. This bond would be held in trust by the local authority and to ensure that the turbines would be removed from the site once no longer required.

5. Wind producing energy 80% of the time

There are claims that turbines do not produce energy much of the time

The very opposite is true. Wind turbines produce electricity from a slight breeze (c.13km/h) upwards and data on Met Eireann’s website shows such conditions occur for 80% of the hours of the year. But don’t take our word for it, you’ll find historical data on Met Eireann’s website. Ireland produced 21% of its electricity from wind in 2015, an impressive achievement and clearly not possible if turbines really were stopped for 80% of the time.

6. No impact on property prices

Claims that property prices would fall by 28-50%”.

We are not aware of any study that would indicate this although a few estate agents have made such claims about individual sales. However, it is impossible to make a judgement based on an individual homeowner reporting that they were unhappy with the price they got for their house. The acid test is a statistical assessment of thousands of properties over many years.

The most recent piece of research on wind turbines, commissioned by the US Government and published in August 2013 states that “Across all model specifications, we find no statistical evidence that home prices near wind turbines were affected in either the post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods. This survey was carried out collecting data from 50,000 homes in nine different states. Wind turbines will not cause property prices to fall, but rhetoric such as that from someone saying that this will be the case locally could well cause it to become a reality

7. Millions of tonnes of CO2 saved

Some claim that there is evidence that wind energy was incapable of making any reduction in CO2.

The evidence is black and white on this one. Both the ESRI and the SEAI have recently published the reports of detailed models of the Irish power system operated with and without wind farms. One used a statistical top-down model. The other used a detailed hour by hour simulation of the demand, wind generation, fossil fuel prices and other variables of the power system. Both studies assessed in detail all the balancing and back-up costs required, and came to a similar conclusion: In 2012, wind energy displaced 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 from our power system. That’s a long way from the zero reduction that those opposed to wind energy will have you believe! This is not just about doing our bit for world climate change, the world is very likely to agree on a world carbon price per tonne of CO2 in the coming years and Ireland’s overdependence on imported fossil fuels will leave it very exposed economically if it has not begun to decarbonise our energy system. Onshore wind is quite simply the best resource Ireland has to achieve this at scale

8. World Health Organisation guidelines

Claims that “wind turbines are capable of creating noise of 106 decibels at source but the World Health Organisation guidelines had stated anything over 40 decibels would create a health hazard”.

Yes, wind turbines produce 106dB at source. That’s why we build wind farms set well back from private residences because sound reduces the further you are away from the source. At a distance of 400m, that same sound level will have dropped below the WHO limit. Any wind turbines that we propose will be located at least 500m from any houses, and we will ensure through detailed studies, that sound levels are in line with the guidelines that have served neighbours of the 200 plus wind farms currently in operation in Ireland, so well to date.


9. Savings outweigh subsidies

Claims that there has been no research done on the possible savings from
wind energy.

This is not true. The following reports have been widely publicised.
The SEAI Study on the Impact of Wind Generation on Wholesale Electricity Costs in 2013 showed that Wind generation in 2011 reduced Ireland’s wholesale market cost of electricity by around €74 million. This saving offset the other costs associated with the generation of wind energy and so was cost neutral to the Irish consumer.

The Value of Wind Energy to Ireland study published in March 2014 by Pöyry, a leading international consulting and engineering consultancy, and Cambridge Econometrics. This very detailed report took into account all the costs and benefts of wind, including balancing and backup costs, grid upgrade costs and the cost to the PSO of AER and REFIT contracts.

The analysis shows that if Ireland deploys wind capacity to meet 2020 targets the wholesale price will fall by €2.10/MWh by 2020 and that wind energy does not place a burden on the Irish consumer due to the net economic benefits of wind energy development. The European Commission confirmed in its Working Document on Energy Prices and Costs published 17 March 2014 that “for wind electricity in Spain and Ireland the benefits for electricity consumers in terms of reduction in whole-sale prices outweigh the costs of subsidies.”

Using wind to generate electricity is reducing Ireland’s fossil fuel bill by €250m annually according to a report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

10. Low frequency noise not an issue

Claims that low frequency noise which manifested itself as a low thrumming and links this to health issues.

Wind turbines do indeed produce low frequency (or infrasound). By definition, this sound is less than the human hearing threshold of 20Hz. Quite simply, humans can’t hear it and if they can’t hear it, it doesn’t cause any annoyance. Anyone who has visited a wind farm site knows that the sound from the blades is a sort of whoosh. There is no tonal humming or clanking or machinery noise, and certainly no thrumming effect.

Those opposed to wind energy often seek to link this thrumming infrasound to health concerns (a common myth coming mainly from one discredited source, a book called Wind Turbine Syndrome). In fact, our environment is full of such low intensity background infrasound. It’s produced by vehicles on roads, air conditioning units, washing machines, your own beating heart, waves crashing on a beach and a whole host of natural phenomena. As the Australian Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a detailed study in 2013 “Organised shutdowns of the wind farms adjacent to homes where low frequency noise measurements were taken, indicate
there did not appear to be any noticeable contribution from the wind farm to the G-weighted infrasound level measured”. If infrasound was actually a problem for human comfort or health, nobody could live in a city or anywhere near a road. 

11. The UK is pursuing a Nuclear Energy programme along with its wind energy development

Claims that England will not allow wind turbines in their countryside

Whilst the main focus of addressing climate change and finite fossil fuels in the United Kingdom has been to develop their Nuclear Energy Programme, the UK has also developed 3 times more onshore wind energy than that currently connected in Ireland. There is over 9461MW operational capacity in the UK from onshore wind farms.

We sincerely hope that people will take the time to do their own research and make up their own minds as to what the facts really are. All of the reports mentioned above should be easily located by a simple internet search. Above all, we would encourage people to go and visit a wind farm to see for themselves. Spend some time on the Video Page of this website and hear the stories of those who live beside wind turbines presently operating all over Ireland.

Coole Area Wind Energy Opportunity
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