An industry perspective on the science and psychology of wind turbines

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King Island's proposed wind farm, one of the biggest developments of its kind in Australia, looks like it will move forward to second stage planning after 59 per cent of locals supported the scheme. Ketan Joshi, who works in the energy industry, and is qualified in psychology, analyses the furore around turbines and their health effects.


In early 2012, I stood underneath three silent, whirling blades. The wind turbine, half of Australia’s first community owned wind farm, purred quietly in the gentle breeze. My employer had organised a tour as part of a proposed development in Seymour, Victoria. At the time, I was working in a monitoring centre for six different wind farms. I volunteered to join the tour, hoping to address some of the more technical questions about how wind farms work in the national electricity market.  

During the question and answer session, a man stepped forward and produced a crumpled piece of paper from his jeans. He demanded to know about infrasound, ultrasound, and electromagnetic radiation. He was concerned about the health impacts of wind energy, and he’d come to voice his apprehension. And, although his questions were disjointed, his anger was real.

Another attendee asked him to step back and give someone else a go. He reluctantly agreed, and walked to the back of the group. As he crouched down, he crammed a small white cigarette into his mouth, and lit it. In a single breath, he consumed 51 unique carcinogens, including carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, cyanide, acetone, butane, freon and sulphuric acid. Smoking kills more people globally each year than all deaths from illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.

As he clasped the cigarette between his two fingers, sucking carbon monoxide into his internal organs, his other hand held the piece of paper.

The sight of that man drawing lethal chemicals directly into his lungs, whilst glaring at the tall, white turbine, turning slowly in the wind, seemed shocking and simultaneously fascinating, to me.

Written By: Ketan Joshi
continue to source article at abc.net.au

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  1. Be it (anthropogenic) climate change, vaccination, or even evolution by natural selection, ideologically driven opponents always open the same old bag of tricks. And unfortunately it is an effective one.

    Combating such a misinformation campaign seems simple enough. You just put on your friendly face, explain to individuals, small groups and in the mass media how anecdotal evidence can be misleading, how the studies creating controversy are methodologically flawed, etc. etc., right? But lies haven’t ran across half the globe by the time truth has it’s shoes on for nothing. The public isn’t rational, not even when the problems with its assumptions have been concisely pointed out to them. If anything, this is often met with accusations of ‘intellectual snobbery’ or, ironically, ‘fear of dissenting opinions’.

    I think prevention is key. Rather than vainly waving your research papers in front of an already mislead and/or enraged crowd that probably doesn’t even register what point you are trying to make, focus should lie on equipping people with the right tool kit to assess (mis-)information. I’m not talking about indoctrinating them with the ‘right’ answers, although I would like them to be taught in school, but real scientific skills. Scepticism, and not the incredibly ironic closed-mindedness were people refuse to believe something despite overwhelming evidence. Criticism, based on at least a elementary understanding of statistics, how to design an experiment and what flaws students and even scientists make when doing research.

  2. I hope I’m not straying too far off the point of this article, but I have a question about wind turbines reducing carbon emissions.

    I heard a discussion on the radio a few weeks ago about wind turbines. One person claimed that the problem with wind turbines is that due to the variable nature of wind, you need a constant back up (usually a coal powered turbine) to take over the power generation when there is little or no wind. And because the furnaces of coal powered turbines cannot be fired up instantly they are required, they have to be running close to maximum all the time (even if they are not driving the turbine all the time), meaning they are producing close to the same amount of carbon emissions as they would if they were constantly driving a turbine.

    Nobody disputed this in the discussion, although it typically lasted for only a couple of minutes.

    Can anyone confirm whether or not this is true? If it is then, wind turbines would appear to be pointless as a way to reducing carbon emissions.

    • In reply to #2 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      I heard a discussion on the radio a few weeks ago about wind turbines. One person claimed that the problem with wind turbines is that due to the variable nature of win…

      There are a number of ways of capturing excess energy to use at peak times – hydro, molten salt, batteries, hydrogen etc. So it doesn’t follow that the backup has to be coal / oil although realistically it may well be. I don’t see that as an argument against wind / wave / solar power though since in their absence you’d still have to be burning something. Besides, most people would consider that renewables would sit alongside nuclear and other forms of power and the grid would balance enough sources of power to cope with the normal peaks and troughs in the system.

    • In reply to #2 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      I hope I’m not straying too far off the point of this article, but I have a question about wind turbines reducing carbon emissions.

      I heard a discussion on the radio a few weeks ago about wind turbines. One person claimed that the problem with wind turbines is that due to the variable nature of wind, you need a constant back up (usually a coal powered turbine) to take over the power generation when there is little or no wind.

      This is nonsense put about by the carbonaceous Luddites! Nuclear and tidal power generation can do the same job.

      The wind is indeed variable, but not in the same way everywhere at the same time. In some locations it is dependable for a large percentage of the time. ( Islands in the Trade Winds, or with steady westerlies.)

      And because the furnaces of coal powered turbines cannot be fired up instantly they are required, they have to be running close to maximum all the time (even if they are not driving the turbine all the time), meaning they are producing close to the same amount of carbon emissions as they would if they were constantly driving a turbine.

      And in any case there is no reason to use coal, gas or oil to drive base-line generation. Tidal turbines, solar thermal and thorium or advanced gas – nuclear generators can do the job without carbon pollution.
      >

      Nobody disputed this in the discussion, although it typically lasted for only a couple of minutes.

      It is a coal industry strawman.

      Can anyone confirm whether or not this is true? If it is then, wind turbines would appear to be pointless as a way to reducing carbon emissions.

      Wind turbines have been a quick fix for politicians who wanted short term results.

      http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/632627-harness-the-sea-national-geographic-june-2011-tidal-wave-power-generation

      There is slack water with idle turbines at high and low tide, but this is at different times in different places, so generation cover is maintained and at predictable times. .

      http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/643310-water-cooled-nuclear-power-plants-aren-t-the-only-option

      The newer type solar thermal power towers can store heat and run through the night.

      http://natgrp.org/2013/07/15/how-it-works-solar-power-towers-with-integrated-storage-the-much-needed-evolution-of-csp/

      Unlike other solar towers, which heat water directly to create steam and drive a turbine, the Crescent Dunes facility will heat molten salt, which is piped through the receiver located at the top of a tower, which is 180m high.

      Two storage tanks are used. A cold tank stores the salt at 280C, pumps it up to the top of the tower where it circulates through the receiver, where the salt’s temperature is taken to 565C and it is then piped back down to the hot storage tank.

      There, the energy is stored for use at a later time or released immediately into a heat exchanger that produces steam that powers a standard steam generator.

      Alt Text – (Right click and select “view image”)

      • In reply to #7 by Alan4discussion:

        The wind is indeed variable, but not in the same way everywhere at the same time. In some locations it is dependable for a large percentage of the time. ( Islands in the Trade Winds, or with steady westerlies.)

        Agreed, but that must mean you’d need a really huge investment to have enough wind turbines in enough places to ensure a good number are capturing the wind at any time, and you’d still need a back up alternative in place because a modern economy could not risk a sudden drop in power for even a short time.

        And in any case there is no reason to use coal, gas or oil to drive base-line generation. Tidal turbines, solar thermal and thorium or advanced gas – nuclear generators can do the job without carbon pollution.

        Agreed, those other methods of generation would appear to be much more reliable than wind, and without carbon pollution. But they not yet in place, so for now we must rely mostly on coal as the back up. And when those other methods are in place, then we may as well use them all the time rather than as a back up for wind power.

        I’ve nothing against wind turbines in principle, but I don’t see how they make sense in practice.

        • In reply to #10 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

          Agreed, those other methods of generation would appear to be much more reliable than wind, and without carbon pollution. But they not yet in place, so for now we must rely mostly on coal as the back up.

          The other methods are better options than wind – except in specific locations, but that is the nature of the green systems. The on-going dependency on coal and gas, is largely a result of political corruption and incompetence.

          Solar thermal and photovoltaic work far better than coal in sunny climates. Tidal turbines and tidal barrages work with large tides and with tide races between islands, in fijords, and on continental shelves where the tide is amplified.

          For example tidal power, even without wind, could produce many times Scotland’s electricity requirements.

          And when those other methods are in place, then we may as well use them all the time rather than as a back up for wind power.

          The sad thing is that many working examples are already in place, but the best the political dumbos can come up with, is to divert subsidised investment into gas fracking to keep energy prices below thresholds where green systems will take over the market.

          I’ve nothing against wind turbines in principle, but I don’t see how they make sense in practice.

          They are a short-term gesture to alternative power in most places. Tidal, hydro, solar and nuclear are much better.

          Then the is ground storage, efficient climate management in buildings , electrification of transport systems etc.

          • In reply to #11 by Alan4discussion:

            They are a short-term gesture to alternative power in most places. Tidal, hydro, solar and nuclear are much better.

            Then the is ground storage, efficient climate management in buildings , electrification of transport systems etc.

            Let’s get to it! (And hope the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians do the same.) :)

          • In reply to #12 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

            Let’s get to it! (And hope the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians do the same.) :)

            Actually the Indians are way ahead of the dumb British government on tidal turbines. (Despite Atlantis being a Scottish company)

            http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2011/01/tidal-current-power.html

            A 50-MW tidal power project is planned for construction in the Gulf of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat, with Atlantis Resources Corporation partnering on the project.

            An MOU for the project was signed as part of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2011, coined ‘Davos in Action’ by organizers, which is attended by world leaders, leading business figureheads and dignitaries from over 70 countries.

            The State of Gujarat has agreed terms with marine energy developer Atlantis Resources Corporation who will partner with Gujarat Power Corporation Limited on the landmark project that could commence construction early as 2011. A total of 250 MW of future tidal power development was agreed under the terms of the MOU.

            Atlantis recently conducted an economic and technical study of prime sites in the Gulf of Kutch, where as much as 300 MW of economically extractable tidal power resource was discovered. The project company will also conduct investigations into the ability to combine the offshore wind resource in the Gulf with the proven tidal current resource to assess the feasibility of a mega marine power project.

            The project team will now begin work on an initial 50-MW project which could be scaled-up to more than 200 MW of installed capacity. The project will require hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in tidal turbines, associated power export infrastructure and the development of a local supply chain and will lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs in the region.

            Atlantis Resources is recognized as one of the leading players in the global marine energy industry and recently revealed plans to develop one of the world’s largest marine power projects in the United Kingdom using its new 1-MW AK1000 tidal power turbine.

            The Chinese ( despite their massive carbon pollution,) are making efforts to change.

            http://chinasolarenergy.blogspot.co.uk/

            December 27, 2012
            China Generates More Electricity from Clean Energy

            China generated more electricity from clean energy resources in November amid efforts to boost the use of non-fossil fuel energy sources. Electricity generated from clean energy increased 20.3 percent from a year earlier to 74.8 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) in November, the China State Electricity Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Last month, hydropower grew 19.4 percent from a year earlier, while nuclear power rose 22.9 percent. Wind power jumped 54.2 percent year on year, the commission said. Meanwhile, the country consumed 887 billion kwh of clean power in the first 11 months of the year, accounting for 20.2 percent of the total on-grid power during the period, the commission said. The share represents an increase of 3.3 percentage points from the amount recorded at the same time last year. Hydropower generation capacity increased by 13.12 million kilowatts from January to November, while wind power generation capacity increased by 8.22 million kilowatts, the commission said. Authorities plan to increase the share of non-fossil fuels used for primary energy consumption to 11.4 percent by the end of 2015 in a bid to cut emissions, according to a government white paper.

            The story that the Indians and Chinese are doing nothing, is just another deniers myth!

    • In reply to #2 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      Those are variants on fairly standard pro-fossil burning arguments. The basic argument is that output fluctuates as wind is variable. For one things, the variability varies. In some places it is far more constant than others. For another, the larger an area you have a wind farm over, the greater the chance you have of constant baseline energy production. The same if you have multiple farms. Another problem with their argument is the idea that you have to turn non-wind sources off and on and take the time to “warm them up”. This seems like abject nonsense to me. In practice, it’s possible to reduce or increase the amount of fuel going into the furnaces, etc, to meet demand. This happens regularly as demand is anticipated for, e.g. the ad break in Corrie. Finally, it is possible to store power to some extent, with places like Dinorwig as mentioned in the article. More of these could be built along side renewable generation; note the mention of the planned Exmoor station. That’s not the only way to store power, obviously.

      This seems to put the counter argument reasonably well, and mentions some other interesting ideas.

      • In reply to #21 by PERSON:

        For another, the larger an area you have a wind farm over, the greater the chance you have of constant baseline energy production. The same if you have multiple farms.
        Another problem with their argument is the idea that you have to turn non-wind sources off and on and take the time to “warm them up”.

        You do actually have to warm-up coal or gas fired turbine generators, when starting them from cold. (Margaret Thatcher’s “Heroes of the miners’ strike” who “kept the lights on”, managed to crack the 400 rpm. turbine shafts on some of them by ignoring these engineering warm-up requirements. If the fire and the steam boiler had to start cold from scratch, there would be a long delay of hours. – Simply diverting steam to an extra turbine is less than half an hour.

        This is of course an argument AGAINST using coal/gas systems as backup! – not an argument against wind turbines.

        This seems like abject nonsense to me. In practice, it’s possible to reduce or increase the amount of fuel going into the furnaces, etc, to meet demand.

        That would be true for generators already running, but extra steam turbines started from cold to boost generation, would require a warm up (like aircraft engines) as they were built up to full speed. Surges in demand, are however, usually predictable more than an hour or so in advance – as are forecasts of local wind speeds.

        • In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:
          Hi Alan, Thanks for your comments.

          Here are come comments from Scottish Wild Land Group magazine, summer 2013, ” Wild Land News “

          Article, ” Is wind power a threat to our climate change policy ? ” by John Constable of Renewable Energy Foundation

          The United Kingdom’s Contribution to
          Mitigating Climate Change :
          Any consideration of our national climate change
          policies needs to ground itself in the scale of the
          United Kingdom’s contribution to the problem. In
          2010, global emissions of carbon dioxide from the
          combustion of fossil fuels were, according to
          International Energy Agency data, about 30
          billion tonnes. In the same year, data from the
          Department for Environment, Food and Rural
          Affairs (DEFRA) shows that emissions of carbon
          dioxide from households and the production of
          goods and services consumed within the United
          Kingdom amounted to about 500 million tonnes,
          or approximately 1.7% of the global fossil fuel
          combustion total. Clearly, the United Kingdom is
          in itself a small part of the problem, and cannot
          hope to mitigate climate change by unilateral
          effort. If we have a role it is to make low carbon
          energy economically competitive and
          spontaneously attractive to the developing world,
          where most of the growth in energy consumption
          is occurring, not least because these countries
          are manufacturing goods for our consumption.
          However, it has been apparent for some time
          that the costs of wind-power, on which the UK’s
          policies are dependent, are so high that the
          technology fails to offer the developing world a
          viable alternative to coal, and because of this our
          overall climate change policies lack credibility.
          Rethinking this position requires governments to
          admit that little or nothing has been achieved in
          the last two decades, in spite of vast subsidy
          expenditure. Such a turnaround will take time,
          but is inevitable since the prospective costs to
          consumers imply significant reductions in
          standards of living and consequently will become
          politically controversial.

          Clive Hambler : In California, despite years of
          debate and attempts to reduce the toll, wind
          farms are now the leading cause of death of radio
          -tracked golden eagles, and the population may
          go extinct as more are attracted in to the killingfields of the turbines. In Norway, one wind farm
          killed 9 white-tailed eagles in 10 months,
          decimating the population and probably slowing
          recovery of others. In Germany, more than 30
          white-tailed eagles have been killed this way.
          The number of disastrous wind farms on the Role
          of Shame can be expected to rise: we can
          reasonably expect news of raptor mortality from
          South Uist, where white-tailed eagles, golden
          eagles, hen-harriers, red-throated divers and
          others have been forced into proximity with a
          wind farm. At Glenmorie, golden eagle casualties
          are confidently being predicted and accepted by
          the RSPB. Already, re-introduction efforts for
          white-tailed eagle in Ireland have suffered deaths
          related to wind farms. This subsidised slaughter
          can be assessed against a total population of
          about 60 pairs of white-tailed eagle, and 450
          pairs of golden eagle, and 180 pairs of osprey in

          K Brown : In California, despite years of
          debate and attempts to reduce the toll, wind
          farms are now the leading cause of death of radio
          -tracked golden eagles, and the population may
          go extinct as more are attracted in to the killingfields of the turbines. In Norway, one wind farm
          killed 9 white-tailed eagles in 10 months,
          decimating the population and probably slowing
          recovery of others. In Germany, more than 30
          white-tailed eagles have been killed this way.
          The number of disastrous wind farms on the Role
          of Shame can be expected to rise: we can
          reasonably expect news of raptor mortality from
          South Uist, where white-tailed eagles, golden
          eagles, hen-harriers, red-throated divers and
          others have been forced into proximity with a
          wind farm. At Glenmorie, golden eagle casualties
          are confidently being predicted and accepted by
          the RSPB. Already, re-introduction efforts for
          white-tailed eagle in Ireland have suffered deaths
          related to wind farms. This subsidised slaughter
          can be assessed against a total population of
          about 60 pairs of white-tailed eagle, and 450
          pairs of golden eagle, and 180 pairs of osprey in

          K Brown: Total reduction of CO2 in U.K due to windfarms according to official figures = 1/5000th of global total

          • In reply to #35 by zytigon:

            In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:
            Hi Alan, Thanks for your comments.

            Here are come comments from Scottish Wild Land Group magazine, summer 2013, ” Wild Land News “

            Article, ” Is wind power a threat to our climate change policy ? ” by John Constable of Renewable Energy Foundation

            A simple check here shows ‘Renewable Energy Foundation’ to be nothing more than an anti wind farm think tank.

          • In reply to #37 by veggiemanuk:

            Article, ” Is wind power a threat to our climate change policy ? ” by John Constable of Renewable Energy Foundation

            A simple check here shows ‘Renewable Energy Foundation’ to be nothing more than an anti wind farm think tank.

            I see they are a carbon industry stooge organisation doubt-mongering renewable solutions and trotting out the “clean-coal” carbon capture myth.

            There is no such thing as clean coal! C + O2 =CO2

            The concept that we can dig up coal, extract energy from it and then put it away somewhere in the ground is nonsense. Gasses pumped under pressure into rock leak out sooner or later, suffocating life on land or acidifying the sea-floor ecosystems.

            The REF has consistently and vociferously opposed the Renewables Obligation.[6] The Renewables Obligation is the current main mechanism for supporting large scale generation of renewable electricity.[7] Instead the REF argue that carbon capture and storage (known as clean coal) is a viable and mature proposition.

            I cannot recall the source, but I have seen figures that Scotland can produce ten times its present requirements from tidal power alone.

            The problem with wind power is it is a sub-optimal option as a short term fix in some places, but every time the carbonaceous Luddites succeed in delaying the development and building of the renewables which have longer development times, we become more dependent on it.

    • In reply to #2 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      I hope I’m not straying too far off the point of this article, but I have a question about wind turbines reducing carbon emissions.

      I heard a discussion on the radio a few weeks ago about wind turbines. One person claimed that the problem with wind turbines is that due to the variable nature of win…

      There is a dutch investigator named Fred Udo who wrote a report about that concluding that windenergie in Europe is a total worthless thing. It’s about what you are mentioning. On this site: http://www.clepair.net/ http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html

      • Youi should not be so quick to dismiss science. a quick google of Fred Udo shows that he’s been debunked quite thoroughly. I am sure you believe this to be some type of conspiracy, but it is not. They showed their math.. In reply to #24 by ThomC.:

        In reply to #2 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

        I hope I’m not straying too far off the point of this article, but I have a question about wind turbines reducing carbon emissions.

        I heard a discussion on the radio a few weeks ago about wind turbines. One person claimed that the problem with wind turbines…

        • In reply to #25 by Dalek:

          Dalek, I’m not that quick, and don’t know enough about it to be able to judge if it is nonsense or not. I do not believe in some kind of conspiricy. But I’m interested in the debunk link. I could find some butt he did have a reply. His name was mentioned by “Stichting Skepsis” from the Netherlands, they are not in the conspiracy things. Chimpanzee asked about some kind of study about it. I don’t know what to believe.

    • In reply to #2 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee: See Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University article, ” Why is wind power so expensive ” p 27 21.5 GW of Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power stations would cost £13 billion and reliably produce the electricity that all the planned £130 billion worth of wind turbines in U.K would.

      How can Britain afford to throw away £117 billion in times of austerity ? How can we justify taking money from the poorest and giving it to the often richer landowners ? Turbines will make our electricity less competitively priced and tend to result in industry moving to countries which do not impose CO2 regulations. Will we be happy if we lose British industry & see a brain drain to U.S.A. China, India, Brazil ?
      We need to look at the CO2 emitted in the production of stuff we buy from China – as pointed out by David Mackay of DECC, ” Sustainable Energy without the hot air “.

      Also the wind industry has no evidence that wind turbines on the National Grids lead to a significant reduction in CO2. In fact the published results of Eirgrid 2004 and E.ON Netz 2005 conclude that turbines are one of the most expensive, uneconomic ways to reduce CO2. Too many turbines on the grid cause instability and reduce the efficiency of conventional power stations. Poland and Czech republic are threatening to block transmission from Germany due to power surges on German grid due to turbines

      Maybe some one would like to post links to historical case studies which prove a significant reduction in CO2 from wind turbines on the national grids ? Not just models. Where is the evidence that we are not being conned by wind turbine salesmen? But in any case there was no need to live with the threat of black outs. We could have started building new gas and nuclear plants 10 years ago to be online now.

      I recommend the speech given by Mr Rupert Soames given to Holyrood 12th Nov 2010. Mr Soames is chief of Aggreko generators which provides emergency power world wide, ( Aggreko is a FTSE 100 ). My summary of what he said is that Scottish government energy policy was heading for the rocks and that they need to build new gas and nuclear power stations and reduce the number of wind turbines planned , otherwise there will be an increased risk of blackouts after 2015.
      Mr Soames recently pointed out that there is now 9000 MW of wind turbines but on calm days the actual output can be 20 MW.

      I wonder what people who religiously ban fossil fuels will say if there are black outs, especially if it turns out to happen over a number of years before new conventional stations come online ? We need smart solutions to reduce CO2 emissions not ruinous policies based on fantasies which end in anarchy.
      Check out Dieter Helms, ” The carbon crunch “,
      Master Resource – energy blog ,
      Val Martin of European platform against wind turbines ,
      C, Le Pair ,
      Eirgrid report 2004 ,
      E.ON Netz 2005 ,
      MEP Struan Stevenson ,
      John Constable of Renewable Energy Foundation , Ruth Lea of Civitas

      • In reply to #31 by zytigon:

        I wonder what people who religiously ban fossil fuels will say if there are black outs, especially if it turns out to happen over a number of years before new conventional stations come online ?

        I hope you are not suggesting that “conventional stations” need to be coal or gas carbon polluting systems. It is merely a carbonaceous Luddite argument that because wind turbines are not the best option, that somehow this justifies continued carbon pollution.

        Working out that burning billions of tons of coal per year adds massive quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere, is not rocket science! It is simple arithmetic!

        We need smart solutions to reduce CO2 emissions not ruinous policies based on fantasies which end in anarchy.

        The smart solutions are already available and up and running in some places.
        The coal needs to stay in the ground, while the money dodgy politicians and bankers are directing towards gas fracking, needs to be re-directed to building tidal, solar thermal, hydro-electric systems and thorium nuclear plants.

        There are already quotes and links on this discussion, showing what the smart solutions are.

        Use of Wind turbines may be similar mindset to the Aztec practice of human sacrifice in an attempt to influence weather or volcanoes, if it is not supported by science and reason & not rooted in reality. Where is the evidence ?

        The evidence is in the reduction in pollution from burning coal and gas.

        The Brazilians, the Indians and the Chinese are sufficiently convinced by the evidence to make massive investments, even if some of these are rather belated.

        As I pointed out in earlier comments, there are many locations where wind power is perfectly viable in conjunction with other non- carbon systems.

        Turbines will make our electricity less competitively priced and tend to result in industry moving to countries which do not impose CO2 regulations.

        This is the argument of those who know the short-term price of everything, and the long-term value of nothing.

        The cost to future generations of continued carbon pollution, will be thousands of times greater than any penny-pinching cuts in short-term energy prices achieved by a failure to invest in sustainable systems.

  3. Acknowledging the potency of nicotine addiction might lessen the outrageousness of the incongruities in the man’s stance. The man would (living in Australia) be aware of the years he will lose due to his addiction. In some respects this might exacerbate his paranoia regarding other man-made causes of premature death. Misinformation campaigns and paranoia aside, (wind turbines harm nobody physically) you wouldn’t tell smokers they have no place at an anti-nuclear rally. I struggle a little with the author’s judgements. I feel that the man’s being gullible and uneducated, is more to the point, rather than any personally unbreakable addictions he might suffer from.

  4. I find it interesting that people complain about a number of things re wind turbines. Noise, vibration, mental problems, etc. I took the time to walk right up to one down the road a few klicks, and pressed my ear against the door. Lots of mechanical noises, but walk 100 feet away, and they are hard to hear. What DOES carry farther, is the swish of the blade tips as they pass close to you. But again, that is standing really close. The farther away you are, the less the noise carries. We have a bunch of them very close, and they become background noise at the level of birds and wind in the trees.

    As for the psychological effects, I am not qualified, nor involved in the medical profession in any way, but one simple thing occurred to me…….You never hear (OK, “I” have never heard) of anyone complaining to their doctor that they are having hallucinations and mental problems due to their ceiling fans. I mean, it is right above you, six feet away or so, slowly turning, all night long. Maybe you have one near you in the day time too. Visually, they take up more degrees of the horizon than a wind turbine, so what is going on here ?

    • In reply to #5 by rod-the-farmer:

      I find it interesting that people complain about a number of things re wind turbines. Noise, vibration, mental problems, etc. I took the time to walk right up to one down the road a few klicks, and pressed my ear against the door. Lots of mechanical noises, but walk 100 feet away, and they are h…

      As for the psychological effects, I am not qualified, nor involved in the medical profession in any way, but one simple thing occurred to me…….You never hear (OK, “I” have never heard) of anyone complaining to their doctor that they are having hallucinations and mental problems due to their ceiling fans. I mean, it is right above you, six feet away or so, slowly turning, all night long. Maybe you have one near you in the day time too. Visually, they take up more degrees of the horizon than a wind turbine, so what is going on here ?

      My guess is that such people are actively looking for any excuse to get rid of wind turbines, but not electric ceiling fans.

    • In reply to #5 by rod-the-farmer: Oh my naive Canadian friend, have you never heard of Korean Fan Death? You may never sleep with the fan on again!

      Deadly Fans

      I find it interesting that people complain about a number of things re wind turbines. Noise, vibration, mental problems, etc. I took the time to walk right up to one down the road a few klicks, and pressed my ear against the door. Lots of mechanical noises, but walk 100 feet away, and they are h…

      • In reply to #13 by alaskansee:

        I heard that visiting conspiracy websites increases the chance of spontaneous human combustion by over 6000% Or is it “spontaneous” human combustion???? (dun dun duuun)

        In reply to #20 by veggiemanuk:

        Same goes for pot heads who think that because it’s got a very high LD50, it’s safe to smoke it.

        In reply to #18 by Alan4discussion:

        There’s a reason we have clean air and water laws. They weren’t suddenly introduced in 1970 to cheer some hippies up. The people in those countries are literally sick of pollution– it’s unsurprising that they’re pushing their governments for better laws.

        Alan4Discussion

        There does seem to be a fair amount of disinformation about this topic. Any critique of wind power would also be unable to take into account any future improvement in efficiency (in gathering, manufacture or maintenance) yet to be developed. It’d be useful, I think, to examine the trends in each of those areas thus far, along with economies of scale, etc.

        • In reply to #22 by PERSON:

          In reply to #20 by veggiemanuk:

          Same goes for pot heads who think that because it’s got a very high LD50, it’s safe to smoke it.

          Yes, the ‘Cannabis has never killed anyone’ mantra leaves one dumbfounded, the only logical response to this would be to point out that smoking tobacco has never killed anyone either (Directly), then wait for the inevitable correction when they point out all the deaths caused by cancer from smoking. One would expect a dawn of realisation over their face at this point but it rarely happens, if ever.

  5. I have been fighting a similar fight here. Various crazies imagine that smart electric meters are a plot to spy on them or kill them with death rays, They were persuasive enough that 60,000 British Columbians refused permission to install the new meters. Hydro offered to install digital meters that are manually read that do not communicate. The crazies have rejected these as “digital”. They demand purely analog meters. Hydro says nobody makes them any more. The best they can offer is to leave the old meter in place until it fails. They have rejected that too, saying Hydro could secretly replace them with a digital meter and they would never know. This sounds like clinical paranoia to me. I want to strangle these loons for gagging on a gnat and swallowing a camel.

    Here in BC, complaints about noise have been used to block wind farms. Yet the noise is less than the road blocks away. It is partly fear of the unknown. It is partly demanding that new technology be perfect, not simply better than what it replaces.

    Anything new in the environment in a witchcraft way, can be blamed for anything that goes wrong even if there is no conceivable link, even for things that often go wrong anyway, like headaches.

    Where do these crazies get these ideas? Perhaps there are parties feeding them who know better, but have ulterior motives for wanting new technologies to fail. Maybe they are motivated by a desire to send crazies off on goose chases.

  6. Wind turbine syndrome? How can anyone believing in this live, or go, anywhere near traffic or aircraft? Or drive a car, or smoke, or have a mobile phone? How do they survive? Selective thinking perhaps? The attraction of pseudoscience. No thinking needed.

  7. I think that this is another one that might be blamed on Google.

    Not really the Google peoples’ fault, but until they can bring their time machine into production it may be some time yet before than can implement the solution, brought back from the future, to fix these things now, in the past. With any luck they’ve already implemented the solution by travelling much earlier back in time, even before now. If the problem suddenly goes away, without any explanation or awareness, they you’ll know they’ve been successful. A bit like how the Yeti, Big Foot, Loch Ness Monster, and UFO problems have entirely vanished now that virtually everyone takes a smartphone wherever they go all the time that that all Android phones have hi res cameras.

    Basically the phenomenon is a consequence of broadband bandwidth and Google’s content tailoring systems on which profitable and effective narrow casting advertising depends. So that someone who is interested in a particular area, or has a particular idiosyncratic way of thinking, as detected by Google’s algorithms (no humans involved presumably), will tend to be mostly presented with search results that reinforce their existing misconceptions.

    You can try this at home by searching on Google for ‘religion’. You’ll get the usual immediate hits etc. But then the later, lower ranked hits will pretty much entirely be links involving atheism or negatively oriented items or scandals involving religion. A person who is more directly involved in religious communities will see similar headline search results, but the secondary search results will mostly be links to relatively positive religious articles.

    There was some recent publicity about declining knowledge of science where this Google phenomenon was discussed as a contributing factor. E.g. People searching on Wikipedia etc. to see how long it takes for the Earth to orbit the sun. Fewer people nowadays feel the need to care that the yearly calendar and seasonal weather is linked to the Earth’s orbital velocity. There’s now no need to know this stuff because Google will take care of it for you. Plus with the massive growth in the Chinese economy and the associated highly profitable market for foreign, fee paying students in western universities means that traditional cultural practises like cheating in exams are now normal rather than exceptional. Anyone who actually knows something these days is regarded with suspicion. Truly valued skills these days are the ability to look something up quickly or to wing it and sound plausible enough to deceive people in the short run.

    To some extent this wind farm problem might be self-containing, if not self-correcting. The same people who are opposed to wind farms also tend to camp out in protest whenever the mobile carriers attempt to erect antenna towers for their base stations. Many affected by these delusions tend to have marginal incomes and therefore live on the periphery of cities, in semi-rural areas where mobile coverage is often poor. (And also where wind farms are more likely to be proposed.) Where the density of these people is greatest you tend to get city councils officially impeding the erection of antenna facilities based on corrupt planning and procurement procedures (which are a key form of concealed income for many city council politicians and employees).

    Carriers then move on to more profitable areas to upgrade. Outcome is less broadband access. Therefore less exposure of idiots to Google’s search algorithms.

  8. In reply to #8 by Roedy:

    I have been fighting a similar fight here. Various crazies imagine that smart electric meters are a plot to spy on them or kill them with death rays, They were persuasive enough that 60,000 British Columbians refused permission to install the new meters. Hydro offered to install digital meters that…

  9. I live in the Kootenays on the Arrow Lakes – the Columbia River, where BC Hydro can do nothing right because they built 3 dams on the river as part of The Columbia River Treaty with the US. There are so many smart meter refuseniks in the area now because of what BC Hydro did 50 years that it just boggles the bloody mind ! 50 years ago for christ’s sake .

  10. Like in the OP, I remember one of my brothers girlfriends who was a vegetarian and proud of it and claimed to ‘Watch what I put in my body’, just as she put a cigarette in her mouth. I still chuckle to myself now, some 10 years later at the stupidity of some people.

  11. In reply to #22 by PERSON:

    There does seem to be a fair amount of disinformation about this topic.

    from your link:

    In February more than 100 Tory MPs sent a letter to David Cameron arguing for a cut in state support for onshore wind power and describing turbine technology as inefficient and less reliable than traditional power sources.

    This is the carbon stooges default claim, that traditional power sources, by which they mean their sponsors in the coal and gas industries, are necessary. You will note that they strenuously avoid mentioning tidal turbines or thorium (or other) nuclear generation.

    Any critique of wind power would also be unable to take into account any future improvement in efficiency (in gathering, manufacture or maintenance) yet to be developed. It’d be useful, I think, to examine the trends in each of those areas thus far, along with economies of scale, etc.

    I think as I quoted @18, on the.hydroworld link, wind power is best used in conjunction with other systems, but those “other systems”, need not be carbon based, as the disinformation from the coal and gas lobby would suggest.
    There are, for example, many locations in Scotland, where like the Indian project, wind and tidal generation could share transmission systems.

  12. For references for Ketan’s great piece, please have a look at this material:

    Wind farms don’t harm human health, anti-wind campaigners do. 19 reviews world wide of all of the available research and complaints by credible, independent groups have cleared wind farms of health impacts. Meanwhile, studies in the UK, Australia and New Zealand point the finger at anti-wind lobbyists spreading health fears and jacking up stress. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/wind-farms-dont-make-people-sick-so-why-the-complaints/

    Infrasound produced by wind farms is harmless; humans evolved with infrasound and wind farms produce less than waves on a beach, yet beach front property is in major demand. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/humans-evolved-with-infrasound-is-there-any-truth-to-health-concerns-about-it/

    A couple of the comments are introducing red herrings that are worth a full rebuttal, although the commenters are usually questioning as opposed to asserting:

    Wind farms reduce greenhouse gases; real world results in Texas, the UK and Australia prove this is true. Industry standard, full lifecycle analyses for all forms of energy find that wind turbines pay back their carbon debt faster than any other form of generation. Every MWh produced by wind energy eliminates 99.8%+ of the CO2 that would have been generated by shale gas or coal, as they are first to be eliminated from the grid as generation sources. As the full lifecycle analyses show shale gas has 50 times the CO2e and coal has 100 times the CO2e per MWh, that’s a lot of global warming gases that are eliminated with every MWh of wind energy. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/wind-energy-reduces-green-house-gas-emissions/

    Wind farms don’t require any more backup than coal or nuclear plants do until they are supplying a very large percentage energy, and when wind energy drops, it’s predictable and minor, unlike major transmission or generation failures. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/how-much-backup-does-a-wind-farm-require-how-does-that-compare-to-conventional-generation/

    As for tidal energy, the ocean, especially when submerged, is a much, much more hostile place more machinery than onshore, and there are greater costs associated with putting anything offshore as opposed to on. That’s a major reason tidal and wave energy hasn’t penetrated substantially, not due to any deficiencies in wind energy. Wind power is clean, safe, effective and cleanly harvests a portion of the free wind energy flowing around the world at a very effective price point. Wind energy is now cheaper than any form of new generation except shale gas according the International Energy Agency, Bloomberg Financial and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/how-effective-are-wind-turbines-compared-to-other-sources-of-energy/

    • In reply to #28 by G_O_D:

      This discussion is all about coal versus wind. Could anyone comment about hydro power? I am genuinely interested.

      Canada uses hydro-electric, and China has a massive dam-building hydro electric programme. (see my comment @18). Dams can be very damaging to the local environment.

      @12 – Let’s get to it! (And hope the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians do the same.) :)

      Brazil leads the way on many issues.

      Renewable energy in Brazil accounted for more than 85.4% of the domestically produced electricity used in Brazil, according to preliminary data from the 2009 National Energy Balance, conducted by the Energy Research Corporation (EPE).[1] After the oil shocks of the 1970s, Brazil started focusing on developing alternative sources of energy, mainly sugarcane ethanol. Its large sugarcane farms helped a lot. In 1985, 91% of cars produced that year ran on sugarcane ethanol. The success of flexible-fuel vehicles, introduced in 2003, together with the mandatory E25 blend throughout the country, have allowed ethanol fuel consumption in the country to achieve a 50% market share of the gasoline-powered fleet by February 2008

      Brazil held its first wind-only energy auction in 2009, in a move to diversify its energy portfolio. Foreign companies scrambled to take part. Early this decade, a drought in Brazil that cut water to the country’s hydroelectric dams prompted severe energy shortages. The crisis, which ravaged the country’s economy and led to electricity rationing, underscored Brazil’s pressing need to diversify away from water power. The bidding is expected to lead to the construction of two gigawatts of wind production with an investment of about US$ 6 billion of over the next two years. Brazil counts on hydroelectricity for more than 3/4 of its electricity, but authorities are pushing biomass and wind as primary alternatives. Wind energy’s greatest potential in Brazil is during the dry season, so it is considered a hedge against low rainfall and the geographical spread of existing hydro resources. Brazil’s technical potential for wind energy is 143 gigawatts due to the country’s blustery 4,600-mile coastline, where most projects are based. The Brazilian Wind Energy Association and the government have set a goal of achieving 10 gigawatts of wind energy capacity by 2020 from the current 605 megawatts, with another 450 megawatts under construction. The industry hopes the auction will help kick-start the wind-energy sector, which already accounts for 70% of the total in all of Latin America.

  13. By the way I am a great fan of Richard Dawkins and his books have been of immense help to me. So many thanks to him.
    I hope that Richard Dawkins will make a scientific investigation into whether the evidence does or does not support the claim that wind turbines contribute in a significant way to CO2 reduction- when looking at whole electricity systems not just turbines in the lab.
    It would be an interesting debate
    I agree with the aim of finding a civilized way to conserve biodiversity on Earth & that this probably involves limiting CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Groups such a ” Scottish wild land group ” & ” Alliance for wise energy decisions ” give reasons to think that wind turbines are not the answer. Use of Wind turbines may be similar mindset to the Aztec practice of human sacrifice in an attempt to influence weather or volcanoes, if it is not supported by science and reason & not rooted in reality.
    Where is the evidence ?

  14. The threat to rural scotland from wind turbnes

    Clips from article in Scottish Wild Lands by Jack Ponton, professor of Engineering

    You probably believe that renewable energy is a)
    going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and
    thus b) mitigate climate change. Without getting
    into the argument about whether climate change
    is happening or whether it is being caused by
    manmade CO2 (personally I believe the answers
    to be “yes” and “yes” although the case is by no
    means clear) it is sensible to ask whether UK
    renewable energy policy is actually going to have
    any effect. And I’m afraid that the answer to that
    is a clear “no”.
    Firstly, have renewables significantly reduced
    emissions from countries where they have
    already been deployed? The European country
    with the largest amount of renewable power
    generation is Germany. Between 1990 when the
    EU started collating statistics and 1999,
    Germany’s annual CO2 emissions due to power
    generation fell from 336 to 296 million tonnes
    (Mte). However, this was before the major
    deployment of renewables, whose contribution
    to generation rose from about 3% to 5% of the
    total supply, mostly in the form of hydro power,
    which is the one form of renewable energy that
    does unarguably reduce emissions. However,
    emissions then rose again reaching 346Mte, i.e.
    above the 1990 level, in 2007, when wind
    generation had increased nearly eightfold.

    When I first became
    interested in this subject nearly forty years ago, a
    colleague and I did some simple arithmetic on the
    efficiency of wind power. We concluded that, to
    get significant amounts of energy one would have
    to cover most of Scotland with turbines. We
    assumed that no one would consider doing
    anything so stupid.

    Secondly, suppose we could solve this problem
    and somehow supply all of the UK’s energy
    requirements – electricity, heating, transport,
    manufacturing – from renewables, totally
    eliminating the country’s 500Mte of so of annual
    emissions. How would this affect global
    emissions and impact on probable climate
    change?
    We’d have covered the country with turbines,
    filled all our high level lochs with sea water to
    create pumped storage. Parks and gardens would
    be yellow with oil seed rape for biodiesel.
    Naturally every roof would be covered with solar
    panels and we’ve still have had to build about a
    dozen nuclear power stations. And the rest of the
    world would never notice, because our 500Mte
    total annual emissions represent only six months
    of China’s 1000Mte annual increase.

    In summary, the EU, UK and, especially Scottish
    government renewables policies are a pointless
    fraud which will neither alleviate climate change
    nor provide energy security. I have not gone in to
    how much they are costing consumers, but they
    are at best an economic nonsense and for
    Scotland a potential economic disaster.

  15. In reply to #36 by zytigon:

    The threat to rural scotland from wind turbnes

    Clips from article in Scottish Wild Lands by Jack Ponton, professor of Engineering

    This is an engineering stooge of the carbon industries cherry-picking poor options and strawman claims.

    You probably believe that renewable energy is a) going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and thus b) mitigate climate change. Without getting into the argument about whether climate change is happening or whether it is being caused by manmade CO2(personally I believe the answers to be “yes” and “yes” although the case is by no means clear)

    Doubt-mongering garbage about their concocted (non-)controversy!! The case is absolutely clear!

    it is sensible to ask whether UK renewable energy policy is actually going to have any effect. And I’m afraid that the answer to that is a clear “no”. Firstly, have renewables significantly reduced emissions from countries where they have already been deployed?

    Have renewables significantly reduced emissions from countries where they have already been deployed? – see my link on Brazil @29 !

    (Renewable energy in Brazil accounted for more than 85.4% of the domestically produced electricity used in Brazil,)

    The European country with the largest amount of renewable power generation is Germany. Between 1990 when the EU started collating statistics and 1999, Germany’s annual CO2 emissions due to power generation fell from 336 to 296 million tonnes (Mte). However, this was before the major deployment of renewables, whose contribution to generation rose from about 3% to 5% of the total supply, mostly in the form of hydro power, which is the one form of renewable energy that does unarguably reduce emissions.

    Any reduction in burning coal, oil and gas reduces emissions. – 5% is a major deployment??????

    However, emissions then rose again reaching 346Mte, i.e. above the 1990 level, in 2007, when wind generation had increased nearly eightfold.

    He is arguing that because power-use increased emissions rose – nothing to do with the small percentage of renewables.

    When I first became interested in this subject nearly forty years ago, a colleague and I did some simple arithmetic on the efficiency of wind power. We concluded that, to get significant amounts of energy one would have to cover most of Scotland with turbines. We assumed that no one would consider doing anything so stupid.

    Only a strawman “stupid” would ignore tidal power in Scotland, which alone can provide many times that country’s present requirements.

    Secondly, suppose we could solve this problem and somehow supply all of the UK’s energy requirements – electricity, heating, transport, manufacturing – from renewables, totally eliminating the country’s 500Mte of so of annual emissions. How would this affect global emissions and impact on probable climate change?

    • The old other people are falling short so let’s give up as well and pretend it is someone else’s fault! ( Maybe the whole world can be conned into giving up and carbon profits and directors bonuses can be preserved for a few years more)

    We’d have covered the country with turbines, filled all our high level lochs with sea water to create pumped storage.

    What a load of strawman crap! Tidal and thorium-nuclear totally omitted!

    As for pumping seawater into mountain lakes ???? – that would only be required if the tidal, nuclear, ground heat-storage, and to some extent solar, options were ignored.

    Parks and gardens would be yellow with oil seed rape for biodiesel. Naturally every roof would be covered with solar panels and we’ve still have had to build about a dozen nuclear power stations.

    Whimisicality! We are not self-sufficient in oil now so why would we need to be self sufficient in bio-fuel? (Assuming that electric transport is ignored) Is there a problem with integrating solar-panels in roofs? – and yes we do need to build nuclear power-stations.

    And the rest of the world would never notice, because our 500Mte total annual emissions represent only six months of China’s 1000Mte annual increase.

    Ah! let’s pretend the Chinese are not aware of the need to move to renewables – despite their investment in these!

    In summary, the EU, UK and, especially Scottish government renewables policies are a pointless fraud which will neither alleviate climate change nor provide energy security.

    More stawmanning deceptive asserted crap! The fraud is all his!

    I have not gone in to how much they are costing consumers, but they are at best an economic nonsense and for Scotland a potential economic disaster.

    How could he cover costing, with major renewable systems such as tidal power, totally omitted from the calculations and strawman pumping of seawater into high lakes included?

    The simply asserted economic nonsense is all his!

    Just another carbon industry stooge doubt-mongering nonsense against investment in renewables!

  16. If the U.K government had opted, a decade ago, to build several new nuclear power stations then we would not have needed to build thousands of wind tribines in areas of outstanding beauty.
    Using a high percentage of nuclear in the mix we could have had electric trolley buses around the cities and recharged electric cars.

    The greater the penetration of wind power into the national grid the smaller the marginal benefit for each turbine added in terms of CO2 reduction. At about 30% penetration on wind into national grid the gas tribines on the national grid start to emit more CO2 than if there were no wind tribines. Also if you study the online ” Gas to Power journal ” com, 13th May 2013 – ‘ Capacity mechanism needed in the U.K as soon as possible ‘ you will see that Gas Turbine power stations need to be able to sell enough electricity to make an economic case for their construction. If new stations don’t get built then i wonder if people will complain when they sit in their cold house with no electric and gas central heating doesn’t work without electric either. Can’t go next door cause they are in the dark too.

    As a result of so much gas from fracking in U.S.A , there has been a lot of U.S. coal being dumped on international markets meaning ever greater rates of consumption. It appears that coal burning power stations are cheaper to run than than gas.

    There is a trade off between priorities of reducing CO2 emissions, security of supply, economic competitiveness.

    Here is a science fiction version of events- probably not real because in fact people mean well and UK government is trying to attract investors to build new gas & nuclear. It is just that they are in a muddle about the proportions of each sort of power generation :

    Maybe CO2 reduction is the main creed in a new GREEN religion ? Wind Tribines = homeopathy = pseudo generators . The mill owners are the priests who sell indulgences- the increase in electricity price to pay their subsidies. People are really being conned and the effect is only to remove the guilt they have been made to feel, it makes no significant difference to global CO2. Like in the fiction, ” The day of the triffids ” The wind tribines are the, ” Grim tri sickle reapers ” which work by giving no electricity on the coldest still winter nights thereby leading to an increased death rate, especially among the old and weak. Reduction in population = reduction in CO2 emissions. The devotees of wind tribines consider that it is ” The will of the tribines ” that the weak die = natural selection. The population is governed by whether the tribines are turning = , ” look the turbines summon us to work ” and the people go to work until the wind dies down. When the turbines have stopped people return to their cold homes and more of the weak die. The population quickly falls to 1 billion.

    Back to reality. Maybe there is a place for wind turbines on islands that would otherwise rely on a diesel generator whose efficiency is not much reduced by cycling on and off with a turbine. This could be the case with telecom masts in isolated places. Also if wind turbines were linked to pump hydro. However until such time that someone invents a system for storing electricity – making the supply more even & reliable then no more turbines should be built.

    PS John Constable of REF notices that if the UK solar panels were given to people on the equator then they would give much better return for materials and money. The insolation is 3 times as much on the equator plus the hours of sunshine are similar year round. Let the people on the equator use solar panels and let UK use gas, nuclear, hydro, biomass.

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