Wind power as a climate measure is disputed, and the level of conflict between an ever-broader popular opinion and vandal capitalism which seems to be completely off the hook is increasing.
OPINION by Liv Marie Sandve
What is the problem with wind power?
In my opinion, it is an unsustainable relationship with a number of factors. The last remnants of untouched, carbon-bearing nature. Sami (indigenous peoples) rights and their natural resources. Red-listed birds and biodiversity in general. Tons of pollinating insects. Quality of life, animal and public health threats from shadow rolls, falling ice, infrasound.
Loss of property value. Contamination of drinking water quality from vibrations, leaking machine oils, and Bisphenol A. Landowners who face financial ruin when the turbines with exaggerated duration expire or start burning. Flaking of microplastics. Emissions and costs associated with the production, shipping, establishment, maintenance, and handling of non-recyclable special waste. Loss of billions in tourist attraction for one of the world’s most unique tourist destinations. Loss of views! Nature’s intrinsic value, which creates public health and livelihood without charging a penny.
Is the country virtually sold to foreign investors?
Excepted from the law. “Green” certificates subsidized through Norwegian electricity customers’ rent for infrastructure, pay investment companies to industrialize national treasures. The TV 2 case about Tellenes Vind “park” shows the flight of money to tax havens. It violates laws on Nature Diversity, Landscaping and Work Environment Act., Indigenous People and Bern, and ILO Convention No. 169. Consistent violations in the licensing processes. Defective and outdated impact assessments made by the developer pointed out by the Environment Directorate, ref. Harvest Magasin 3 / 7-19. Developers who continue their work while complaints are being “processed” at the NVE. Ref. the Vardafjell case, Sandnes municipality. North Connect. Analyzes by Hogne Hongset show that the cable will increase Norway’s CO₂ emissions, revenues for Norwegian power companies and electricity costs for private customers and businesses. To make wind power profitable. Power consumption. Wind power is tentatively legitimated by the mission to green-wash the oil industry’s insane electricity consumption. But oil and gas consumption still isn’t climate friendly. Social dumping of labor. Exceptions to the “Coronal Act”. Wind power workers in tightly packed barracks.
Use of terms. The term “environmental protection” is now called “the climate issue”. Is the wind industry environmentally friendly and sustainable? Not at all. In Norway, we are self-sufficient with green power through hydropower plants and have never exported as much power. Upgraded hydropower plants will provide at least as much and more stable power at a lower cost.
The Norwegian authorities’ intentional and persistent overrun of public opinion and municipal governments. Consciously and deliberately colliding with the people who have given them their trust, whom they are set to serve. Sovereignty. After the OED decided, after countless protests, that Andmyran should be spared for wind power development from environmental and climate reasons, Germany’s Ambassador Alfred Grannas chooses to threaten with trial to defend the investment company behind the plans. “I do not think a lengthy trial in the crisis right now would have been of any use to any of the parties,” he writes in an email dated March 27, 2020, sent to Secretary of State Tony Christian Tiller.
A malodorous shift.
Is the country virtually sold to domestic and foreign investors? Have this country’s authorities given away sovereignty through the EEA /sneak introduction into the EU and the EU power agency ACER? Do we have politicians willing and daring to work towards restoring the country’s integrity? I dare you!
So this is what they refer to as the green shift. This is supposedly the future.
What kind of planet is this?
Strange, how strange it is …
Or from Sigbjørn Obstfelders’ poem “Jeg ser”
“I’m looking, I’m looking…
I seem to be on a foreign planet!
Strange, how strange it is…”
Wind turbines, from cradle to grave.
Just about everything, we as consumers make use of; clothes, shoes, cell phones, computers, cars, and other things – have components that in some way or another make a so-called climate footprint.
Written by Margrethe Aarmo, Marita Kristel Buschmann Wahl, Wenche Jenny Marø Røsseth, Jan Morten Røsseth, Torill Johansen Bondø, Liv-Agno Ulsund og Sara-Marie Ulsund Stiksrud, Rødt Nærøysund. Translated from Norwegian by Liv Marie Sandve.
This implies everything in the process from mineral extracting, production, transportation, usage, and finally waste disposal. Most people have made themselves addicts of these products, and limiting the consumption will demand massive restructuring and willingness from every consumer.
What we are not suffering addicts of, despite power companies’ slogans and promotions under the headlines “green energy”, “the green shift” and so on – is wind turbines.
As shortly and readable as possible, based on source-critical facts, we intend to shed a light on what these wind turbines are made from, what implications they impose on the environment, and what remains they leave us with after being disposed of.
According to an article posted on the website of NGO (Norway’s’ Geological Survey) in 2016, a turbine of 87m height and a wingspan of 117m consists from the following: 475 tons of steel, 36 tons of copper, 2,6 tons of led, 1,3 tons of aluminum, 400 kg nickel, 400 kg neodymium and 80 kg of dysprosium. To put this information into perspective: in the village of Batou in Inner Mongolia, China, a large amount of these elements are extracted. BBC, The Guardian, Norwegian Environmental Protection Association, NRK, and other media have in recent years made reports and articles dealing with the extent of these mining operations.
Large areas are being contaminated, crops, animals, and humans are getting ill – which is related to the toxic and radioactive waste materials and chemicals being emitted during this mining.
For every ton of rare soil extracted, from 9600 to 12000 square meters waste materials containing a concentrate of dust, hydrofluoric acid, sulfur, and sulfuric acid are being emitted. There is an additional side production of approx 75 square meters acidic wastewater and a ton (pr. rare soil) of radioactive waste. Artificial lakes of considerable sizes are covered by a thick layer of toxic and radioactive waste from the numerous furnaces producing neodymium and dumping the waste into the lake of sludge. The earth and the rivers surrounding these artificial lakes are also contaminated, skin and bone diseases and cancer is abounding in the area.
And then, imagine the consumption of resources/energy and fuel associated with the transportation of completed components, the facilitating and elaboration of construction roads and calls areas, development of the industrial area where the turbines are installed. From development in marshlands amounts of CO2, methane gas (190 liters pr.sqm. water), and other greenhouse gases are being emitted. Marshlands are among our top storage locations for CO2.
Estimates show that one single turbine with the mentioned dimensions will emit approximately 14 tons of microplastics. Despite improvements in prohibiting this kind of wear and tear, the technology still does not meet requirements to prevent this pollution. Salt, ice, weather, and wind wear on the construction and scatters the microplastic onto large areas. Wind turbines produced now and in the following years will be devoid of these technological improvements.
Wind turbines are producing optimally only 30% of the time. The remaining time, when the wind is too strong or to calm, we are depending on back up from other, stable energy sources, which equals hydropower in the case of Norway. We are paying for an energy mix containing 58% fossil and 33% nuclear energy. This means that wind power, in reality, leads to fossil emissions when the turbines are not producing energy. We have sold our guarantees of origin on renewable energy to Germany among others, to improve their climate accounts.
While the turbines are running, they create an infrasound/low-frequency sound which creates a health threat to animals and human beings on earth and at sea. Birdlife and massive amounts of insects are lost colliding with the rotor blades.
As mentioned, it is attempted to keep this information brief. Thus we arrive at the disassembly. There will be sawing, blasting, demolition. Nature is subjected to emissions of hydraulic oil, SF6 gas (a highly powerful and damaging greenhouse gas), once again vast amounts of microplastics and other particles, to mention a selection. Then components are to be removed and transported, with the emissions and consumption correlated.
Developers are ever proclaiming the foreshadowing of good solutions for recycling the materials. The proof is still lacking that this will be valid in the near future. It still is too costly, energy-intensive and polluting – compared to the small amount of metals that actually becomes reusable. Until further large amounts of these materials are being stored in big graveyards, pending on viable solutions.
Such storage obviously causes additional erosion and emission of waste materials. Additionally, on numerous locations, the components are covered with sand and earth, which complicates the possibilities to uncover them for potential recycling. Through f.ex. agriculture we have cultured quite a lot of marshlands, to the point that there recently has been introduced strict regulations related to further cultivation. Through the UNs’ sustainability goals and water Framework directive (which are to preserve comprehensive and sustainable use of ecotoxicity with adjacent wetlands), we are also obliged to protect marshlands.
Blasted mountains can not be rebuilt, coastal heath and moorland can not be recovered, fauna and insects can not be resurrected.
The Norwegian writer Arnulf Øverland wrote in his poem “You must not sleep”: You must not withstand so fervently well, the wrongs that do not relate to yourself.” Admittedly this poem cited WW2, but an attitude like this verse line reflects – is nevertheless an important reminder, even today.