Wind farm safety in consumer survey: where’s the context?

The truth is, survey respondents lack the knowledge to make judgments about wind power, especially on key issues like "safety." (Graph on wind farm accidents world-wide from Caithness Wind Farms
The truth is, survey respondents lack the knowledge to make judgments about wind power, especially on key issues like “safety.” (Graph on wind farm accidents world-wide from Caithness Wind Farms

Yesterday, I noted that the Nanos Research report for CanWEA finished with this quote:  “Positive impressions are supported by the perception that wind is a strong energy source for environmentally friendly and safe electricity.”
On page 15 of the Nanos report, the reasons the respondents chose wind power are itemized: 54.5% in the “very good” group rated it as a “Environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative,” while 3.6% in that group rated wind as “safe.”
Dissenting survey respondents said wind was “too expensive” (24.1%), and “unreliable and inefficient” (19.7%).  Amusingly, about 28% of the group rating wind as “very good” actually chose it for a variety of reasons that indicate they know little about it. For example, “because of what I have heard,” “I like it, it’s good” etc.  As the 18-29 age group and GTA residents are the biggest fans of industrial-scale wind, we might assume a goodly portion of that demographic shared the perception that it is “environmentally friendly” and “safe.”
So, let’s look at some of the findings in respect to those two perceptions.  One of the questions asked, found on page 16, is: “Please rate each of the following ways to generate large-scale electricity for communities, industries and businesses on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very weak and 10 is very strong.
The results as summarized were: “Wind electricity is second behind solar power and just ahead of hydroelectricity when it comes to being environmentally friendly.” The term “environmentally friendly” pops up in the report 34 times and the word “safe” or a simile 44 times, whereas the word “noise” only appears twice, as does the word “birds.”  (The word “infrasound” never appears.)
Interestingly, the Executive Summary says this: “Many participants openly admitted they lacked context to judge wind power, instead demonstrating an appetite for information about wind projects around the world and more details about controversial aspects such as claimed health impacts.”
The 119-page report fails to disclose how many of the responders represented those who “lacked context to judge wind power”!   One wonders why that detail was omitted, and how much that lack of “context” should affect the credibility of the survey!
Had the survey explored the knowledge level of responders as displayed on page 10 under the heading, “Attitudes about Wind,” where it states: “31.7% think that wind generation poses a greater risk to health and the environment than hydroelectric generation” the conclusions might have differed considerably from the 54.5% of the “very good” group, or the casual mention by some of the 32 people in the focus groups who said wind power was “Dangerous for birds and wildlife”.
On the issue of “safety” the question reviewed on page 16 above also deals with safety with this summary of results on page 19 sums up the findings:  “Safety is also something that distinguishes the energy sources. Nuclear by a significant degree is considered the least safe (5.2). Wind is seen as the third safest but only slightly less safe than hydroelectricity.”
The claim that wind is “safer” than nuclear is just one area where “perception” and “reality” part ways in this survey.  The Nanos Research report to CanWEA notes wind receives high marks for safety, but the truth is human fatalities from wind are not reported or only casually mentioned in the mainstream media when they occur.   Caithness Windfarm Information Forum has tracked data on all accidents related to wind turbines since 1980.  The number of fatalities as reported by Caithness  number over 100, whereas the number of fatalities related to nuclear power globally number approximately 50, including Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. The first nuclear power plant commenced operation in 1954, almost 30 years prior to the data in the Caithness site related to industrial wind developments.
Next, I  look at what we should expect the upcoming messaging to look like from CanWEA and the industrial wind developers in the Ontario Campaign, as they try to persuade the doubters and those who “lack context to judge wind power.”
©Parker Gallant
January 2015

What's your reaction?


  • Sommer
    Posted January 28, 2015 8:55 am 0Likes

    Your analysis of this survey is much appreciated Parker!
    The 18-29 year olds surveyed were most impacted by the alarmism that created intense fear and hope in the possibilities for renewables.
    The revelations that are coming out steadily, regarding the catastrophic predictions that have not occurred are crucial for everyone…especially these young people.
    We need a robust examination of the data behind those predictions and we need the scientists who made them to face rigorous questioning under oath.

  • Khris
    Posted January 28, 2015 9:48 am 0Likes

    I need to see a spread sheet on the full costing of a single wind turbine. Many things come into play but based on standard projections.
    Projected Yearly Cost / Return on investment per year based on consumer billing costs. Plus projected efficency factor in hours running.
    Full cost XL Spread Sheet. 1 to 20 / 25 years.
    Capital Cost. AMERTIZED OVER 20 / 25 YEARS
    Intreast Costs over Years.
    Land Lease. Per year.
    Typical Install Costs
    Grid Hook in Costs
    Projected Maint/Cost/Per Year. De-com coats and removal of unit.
    Are they a sound investment ????????????

  • John Vincent
    Posted January 28, 2015 11:07 am 0Likes

    I like your spread sheet idea, but I feel it should include decommisioning costs also. We don’t have any feel for how long these new breed of windmills will last, but they are factored in FIT for 20 years. I have reason to believe they won’t last much longer than that.
    So when decommisioned, what is the cost of disposal, and, here’s the big one, removal of 40 tons or reinforced concrete from the ground below every windmill?

    • Parker Gallant
      Posted January 28, 2015 12:01 pm 0Likes

      John, This article suggests that NextEra uses 800 tons for each turbine:
      Decommissioning won’t require the full removal of all concrete as I understand just the top 4 feet. I have seen estimates that suggest the decommissioning costs per turbine will be upwards of $200,000 each and depend on salvage value of the metal,etc ie; less value will create a higher cost.
      Kris: On the issue of returns if one does a search with the words:
      “wind farm investment returns” (no quotes) you will find lots of material with charts based on wind speeds, life span, etc. There are far to many variables that would include what the feds might allow for say accelerated depreciation, cost of living adjustments (Ontario allows this up to 20%), payments per kWh for both produced power and constrained power (Ontario allows the latter but haven’t disclosed what they pay), etc., etc.

  • Barbara
    Posted January 28, 2015 11:59 am 0Likes

    The spread sheet you have laid out is not the complete picture for developers and investors.
    The tax and other incentives are included along with how much more can be made off wind and solar projects with things like Yieldcos and bonds when the projects become operational. Then there is the potential for carbon credits.
    It’s well known that IWTs & solar depend on subsidies for development.
    The money lenders who provide the money to get these projects up and running want to get their money back as soon as possible. They don’t want their capital tied up for 20 years. So other investors need to be brought in to get the money to pay off the original lenders.
    There are wind and solar companies operating in Ontario that pay little or no taxes on their developments.
    There are financial institutions that lend money to install projects and they also invest in the completed projects.

  • ScepticalGord
    Posted January 28, 2015 5:22 pm 0Likes

    The Nanos Research report for CanWEA seems to show that the expression “don’t shoot the messenger” does not always apply.
    Why is it that consultants and pollsters always find a way to spin their reports / results into conclusions that appease their clients?
    I just hired myself to conduct a poll that I paid for out of my own pocket.
    My unbiased opinion: Nik Nanos is not the respected pollster that I thought he was.

  • Khris
    Posted January 29, 2015 9:22 am 0Likes

    The whole wind thing is smoke and mirrors the plan is and always will be to skim money out of the tax system to feed the greed off a few. Every project that uses tax payers money ends up with a smell. Our pockets are picked clean buy every level of goverment. It stinks.

  • Khris
    Posted January 29, 2015 4:22 pm 0Likes

    Now we see the spin gang getting into bed with turbine gang how much money will they be willing to waste. We now have to fight our money that we over paid to stop the Win Mess.

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