Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘wind’ Category

TORONTO – A demand that four Ontario families pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to billion-dollar companies is a thinly disguised warning to anyone pondering a challenge to industrial wind farms in Ontario, the families say.

In asking the courts to set the legal bill aside, the citizens say the award would cripple them financially and undermine access to justice, even in important public-interest cases.

Court documents show the companies — K2 Wind, Armow, and St. Columban — are seeking $340,000 in costs from the Drennans, Ryans, Dixons and Kroeplins, who lost their bid to scuttle three wind-farm projects.

The families, who worry wind turbines near their homes could harm their health, had challenged the constitutionality of Ontario’s approvals process before Divisional Court. They are now hoping the province’s top court will hear the case, potentially adding more litigation costs.

Shawn Drennan said his $240,000 bill was excessive given that he was only looking to protect his rights.

“We will have to go to the bank and beg and ask if we can borrow more money to pay their costs and it will be a significant burden on my wife and I,” Shawn Drennan told The Canadian Press. “My wife already works two jobs.”

Lawyer Julian Falconer, who represents the families, called the wind companies “blood-sucking, intimidating bullies.”

“It’s not just a bar to justice, it’s actually a terror tactic,” Falconer said in an interview.

“This is not about money. The idea is to send a message: ‘We will wipe you out if you challenge us’.”

The companies say the high-stakes court challenge forced them to deploy considerable legal resources to defend projects they say are safe.

“While the appellants were entitled to bring their litigation, their decision to do so had significant consequences,” St. Columban argues in its court filing.

“There must be an appreciation of the real disruption, and real cost, suffered by the adverse party.”

Generally speaking and as a matter of fairness, the losing side in civil proceedings has to pay the legal bills incurred by the winning side.

K2, which is putting up 140 turbines, some of which are about 750 metres from the Drennans’ home near Goderich, Ont., says the families knew the risks of losing.

In addition, the failed bid to halt construction pending outcome of their court battle was unnecessary and should “never have been brought,” K2 says in its submissions.

The families argue they raised an important and novel constitutional issue that is squarely in the public interest given the reasonable prospect of serious harm to the health of citizens. They also say they did not stand to benefit financially.

The companies reject that argument. They maintain the families were indeed fighting a personal battle, do have the means to pay, and say the case was in fact contrary to the public interest because the challenge delayed government-approved green-energy projects.

For the families, it’s become a case of “lose your home to save your home,” they say.

“By simply exercising their right to access to the courts, the appellant families now face the disheartening prospect of financial ruin,” their submission states.

“When, as in this particular case, the consequence of that access becomes crippling financial loss, ‘access to justice’ becomes a meaningless platitude.”

Read Full Post »

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia faces a A$17 billion ($13.3 billion) exodus of investment from its windfarm industry because of a political deadlock, threatening to deal the country a major economic blow and kill hopes of meeting a self-imposed clean energy target.

Some 44 Australian windfarm projects, about half overseas-funded, have been shelved since a new conservative government said it wanted to cut state support for the industry a year ago, with investors and operators saying they are considering either downscaling or leaving the country altogether if it succeeds.

Even Australian windfarm companies such as Infigen and Pacific Hydro have effectively shelved their Australian operations, with Infigen saying it plans to pour all its financial muscle into the more amenable U.S. market.

“It’s a difficult time at the moment, and the policy uncertainty is the main cause of it,” said Shaq Mohajerani, an Australian spokesman for wind farm company Union Fenosa, owned by Spanish energy giant Gas Natural.

“We’re still considering all options on how to proceed. The parent company will provide us with the strategy.”

A Gas Natural spokesperson said the firm had an “attractive backlog” in Australia but “we are waiting for the whole development of the new framework for renewable energy and hope our presence … in the country can be maintained”.

Wind power in Australia is not the only renewable energy sector to be affected by uncertainty over government subsidies or actual cuts. In Europe, Germany has scaled back support for solar power over the past few years, leading to a flood of insolvency filings by solar firms and a shrunken market.

Italy’s plans to cut subsidies for solar power firms have prompted an investor exodus. Retroactive solar subsidy cuts have also happened in Spain, Greece, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic over the past couple of years, putting off new investors as governments try to rein in energy costs and cut debt.

Windfarms are Australia’s No. 2 renewable energy source, behind hydropower but ahead of solar, providing a quarter of the country’s clean energy and 4 percent of its total energy demand. But while households can collect rebates for installing their own rooftop solar panels, windfarms rely on “certificates”, or tradable securities handed out by the government, to offset costs.

That support hit a roadblock a year ago when new conservative prime minister Tony Abbott ordered a review of the country’s target for clean energy use by 2020, which ultimately recommended slashing it by a third, in line with falling overall energy demand. A lower target would mean a lower certificate price.

The center-left Labor opposition, whose support the government needs to lower the target, refused to budge on the higher target it set when in power in 2009, resulting in an impasse that has effectively seen the industry grind to a halt.

A spokeswoman for U.S.-owned GE Australia & New Zealand, which has stakes in several renewable energy projects, said further investment “will only occur once investor confidence in the policy environment is restored. For this to happen, bipartisan support regarding the future of the renewable energy target is essential.”

The Australian arm of Spanish infrastructure group Acciona, the world’s largest renewable energy firm, has frozen about A$750 million of windfarm projects because of the stalemate, said local managing director Andrew Thomson.

“When you’re a subsidiary (of a global business), you’re competing for capital, you’re competing for your budget allocation next year,” he said.

“If the parent company can’t see that there’s a stable environment it becomes really difficult to get traction. For us at the moment it’s a really difficult sell.”

If the renewable energy target is cut, “it’s the type of jolt to industry that basically would create such an upheaval that you would have a mass exodus”, said Alex Hewitt, managing director of Bulgarian-Polish-U.S.-backed windfarm operator CWP Renewables, which has A$1.5 billion of projects on ice.

“I can’t say whether we’d completely exit the country, but you would be looking at such a level of reduction in the level of investment into people in the company that it would be very significant,” Hewitt said.

Read Full Post »

Floating wind turbines bring electricity where it's needed

 

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-turbines-electricity.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

A French start-up says its Wind Tree is ideal for urban environments, harnessing the most gentle of winds to produce power through its micro-turbine leaves.

http://news.yahoo.com/video/wind-tree-uses-micro-turbine-123207927.html

Read Full Post »

Wind turbines have little impact on property values, study concludes

Opponents of turbines, who argue they can make nearby residents ill, are waiting for the courts to rule on their constitutional challenge to the approvals process

Wind turbines generally have little effect on the value of nearby properties with possibly isolated exceptions, a recent study of thousands of home and farm sales has found.

The surprising findings, published in the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, come amid an already fiery debate over wind farm impacts and appear to contradict widely-held views among turbine critics.

The study focused on Ontario’s Melancthon township – home to one of the country’s oldest and largest wind farms – and surrounding areas.

“The lack of significant effects of the Melancthon wind farm is somewhat surprising, given the public outcry regarding the construction of these turbines,” according to the authors.

“These results do not corroborate the concerns raised by residents regarding potential negative impacts of turbines on property values.”

The University of Guelph researchers analyzed more than 7,000 home and farm sales that occurred between 2002 and 2010 in Melancthon Township, which saw 133 turbines put up between 2005 and 2008, and 10 surrounding townships.

Of those, more than 1,000 homes and farms were sold more than once, some several times.

“These turbines have not impacted the value of surrounding properties,” co-authors Richard Vyn and Ryan McCullough conclude.

“Further, the nature of the results, which indicate a lack of significant effects, is similar across both rural residential properties and farm properties.”

Vyn said he found the results somewhat surprising given the frequent and public criticisms of turbines.

Despite the overall findings, believed to be the first peer reviewed research on this issue in Canada, the study did find some limited support for those who believe wind farms hurt property values.

One appraiser’s report found the values of five properties close to turbines – bought and resold by wind farm developers – plunged by more than half, the researchers note.

In addition, homes or farms that may not have sold because of nearby turbines don’t show up in the sales data.

Several previous studies have also found turbines have little impact, while some others have concluded the opposite.

The debate around wind farms in Ontario is becoming increasingly bitter. Opponents, who argue turbines can make nearby residents ill, are waiting for the courts to rule on their constitutional challenge to the approvals process.

Dave Launchbury, who has been selling real estate in Melancthon 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto for seven years, said there appears to be a growing stigma attached to properties near turbines. Many potential buyers won’t even look at them, he said.

Launchbury estimated properties close to turbines sell for “at least” 10 per cent less.

One recent study found that perception around the impacts of turbines might contribute to lower property values.

“Assumed property degradation from turbines seems to lower both asking and selling prices,” according to the University of Western Ontario study published late last month.

Vyn, a professor with Guelph’s department of food, agricultural and resource economics, said he wanted to extend the research to other areas of the province and use later data to see if the initial findings hold up – especially given the increasingly vitriolic opposition to turbines.

“As people hear more and more about the concerns, I wonder if that will show up in more recent property sales transactions,” Vyn said in an interview.

Read Full Post »