This post is the second in a series of blogs examining where 2016 candidates for President or Governor of North Carolina stand on key energy issues. Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.
Thanks to NPS’s new sound level mapping, it is fairly clear that a 35 decibel sound limit isn’t just discriminatory to wind farms, it’s likely impossible to achieve under already-existing conditions in significant portions of the country. By enacting sound level regulations that are below existing, ambient sound levels, anti-wind energy activists are obviously attempting to ban wind farms.
Some of Abita’s energy sustainability practices include a brewery process that uses 70% less energy and reuses steam, an onsite wastewater treatment system that captures renewable “bio-gas” to fuel boilers, and a solar panel system that was considered one of the largest in the state when it was installed. Because its local water resource is so pristine, Abita doesn’t need to use filters or chemicals to clean its water.
Wind power is an American success story. Wind turbine component manufacturing or support facilities exist in all 50 states. Domestic content for wind farm projects is around 60%, meaning American jobs are helping build America’s domestic energy industry. In 2014, American companies exported about half a billion dollars worth of wind turbine components around the globe. A few major manufacturers here in the southern United States include General Electric’s turbine facility in Pensacola, Florida, Blade Dynamics in New Orleans, ZF Windpower in Georgia, PPG Industries in North Carolina, LM Blades in Little Rock, just to name a few.
North Carolina’s Senate Bill 843 was introduced recently, and if implemented, would flush the entire renewable energy industry down the toilet.
This year may be the biggest year for wind energy in the South. A number of factors are working together to create a massive market for wind energy all across the country. Some of the important factors include: technology has significantly improved, utilities are becoming more familiar with integrating wind energy, key federal tax incentives have been renewed and utilities are beginning to hedge against risks associated with fossil fuels.
Conservatives strongly support clean energy. The strongest reasons why conservatives support clean energy include less pollution, more innovation and greater independence. “Voters, including Conservative Republicans, think clean energy keeps us healthier, safer, and more prosperous,” says the ClearPath results headline. When asked if “we should accelerate the growth of clean energy so that America can have cleaner, healthier air and less pollution at home,” some 91% of voters supported the statement.
A team of experts in the United Kingdom evaluated the risk of a wind turbine accident. Because actual, real-world wind turbine accidents are extremely rare events (once every 10,000 years per turbine per year), the experts ran millions of simulations of virtually all the possible ways a wind turbine blade can become detached and how far blade pieces could travel. The experts for the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive summed up their research like this: “The risk of fatality from wind turbines (at 2 hub heights or greater from the turbine) is low in comparison to other societal risks. It is roughly equivalent to the risk of fatality from taking two aircraft flights per annum.” The experts also noted you’re also more likely to die by taking four fairground rides per year than from a wind turbine blade/fragment.
Wind turbine technology has advanced significantly in the past few years, enabling wind farms to sprout up in new areas, particularly in the Southeast. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in harnessing more electricity and reducing costs. Even as new wind development promises sustainable economic development in rural counties, in some cases new wind farm proposals are being met with hostility and resistance. North Carolina is a recent example of new turbine technology creating opportunities and opposition, as anti-wind activists use confusion and misinformation to press for wind farm bans that are disguised as regulation.
The renewable energy industry had a powerful ally in the last few years, and 2015 in particular: the corporation. As prices in wind and solar have fallen, support for these technologies in the commercial & industrial (C&I) sector has swelled. In 2015, C&I buyers invested in more than 3 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity. Google alone purchased nearly a gigawatt of new wind and solar projects in 2015, making them the largest institutional buyer of renewable energy in the world.