National Grid’s FES 2020: What is the Environmental Impact of 480 TWh per year from WASPs?

There are 47 GW of Onshore Wind required by 2050, equivalent to 196 wind farms the size of South Kyle Windfarm:

196 wind farms, with 50 x 4.8 MW WTGs means a total of 9,800 WTGs have to be installed. But with the lifespan of WTGs being only 25 years, it means at least 392 WTGs per year have to be installed to meet the 47 GW target by 2050.

By the time the 47 GW target figure is reached, the first tranche of turbines will need to be decommissioned, as the follow-on quantity of 392 WTGs are being brought into operation.

BUT: that becomes an ongoing task every year thereafter: Forever & Ever & Ever!

And of course, every year from 2050 onward, 392 sets of 3 blades — weighing 58 tonnes per set — require disposal. That’s 22,736 tonnes of potentially toxic, groundwater-contaminating GRP heading for local landfill sites.

22,736 tonnes, every year, Forever & Ever & Ever!

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This is the construction of a 3 MW WTG foundation, so the foundation for a 4.5 MW WTG will be proportionately bigger.:

The most detailed description of the environmental impact of an onshore wind farm during construction was that described on the website of East Renfrewshire Council, in respect of Whitelee Windfarm.

This Blogpost, of February 2018, mentions: “…Whitelee commenced operation, following the excavation and muck-spreading of 850,000 m³ of undegraded peatland (ancient — 6,000 to 9,000 years old — blanket peat bog) ……….In addition, 2,500,000 tonne of stone was quarried for roads and turbine bases; 120,000 tonne of concrete was used; 2,250,000 non-native conifer trees [900 hectares] were removed; 300 hectares of spruce trees were removed…”

The link to the East Renfrewshire Council is given, as is the link to the data source (www.variablepitch.co.uk) for a graph showing the generation from Whitelee at that time, was down to almost half of that publicised even today, on the Whitelee Windfarm website.

Not too long after that, the ‘variable pitch’ website was shut down and the pages containing the Whitelee data were removed from the East Renfrewshire Council website:

Well worthy of the investigative talents of George Monbiot

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This is what the USA’s Institute For Energy Research had to say about decommissioning onshore wind farms, less than a year ago:

“…Restoration activities include the removal of all physical material and equipment related to the project to a depth of 48 inches. Most of the concrete foundations used to anchor the wind turbines, however, are as deep as 15 feet. The concrete bases are hard to fully remove…”

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By 2050, the build-out of 196 wind farms the size of South Kyle Windfarm will occupy a land area of 3,920 km². Appreciating that such levels of expansion of onshore wind farms requires the occupation of sizeable land areas, the Government undertook a survey of public opinion regarding the selection of sites.

Analysis of the outcome revealed that those most enthusiastic about wind power, tended to be urban dwellers, in and around major cities. For example, this cohort regarded WTGs as “…majestic monuments to technology…”.

Early indications are that the local councils in and around Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London will be consulted regarding the siting of 2,450 x 4.8 MW WTGs (occupying 980 km²). It is assumed all brownfield sites available will be used, but occupation of greenfield sites in the more rural areas will probably be unavoidable.

In the years leading up to 2050 and thereafter, the Government will conduct ongoing consultations with councils of other cities and centres of population, regarding the yearly, perpetual build out of 392 x 4.8 MW WTGs.

This is believed to be the best way to distribute the burden of the impact of onshore wind farms at end-of-life. Particular attention is needed, regarding the local landfill allocation for the disposal of 5,684 tonnes of GRP blades every year, at each location.

Over their 25 years ‘stint’ of wind farm siting, the each authorities will have to accommodate the landfill disposal of the 142,100 tonnes of WTG blades.

That’s a National Burden of 568,400 tonnes of landfilled GRP, every 25 years.

That’s a National Burden of 1,136,800 tonnes of GRP to be landfilled from 2050 to 2100.

That’s a National Burden of 2,273,600 tonnes of landfilled GRP, every century — Forever & Ever!

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