Winds of change may be blowing for wind turbines, study suggests

July 24, 2013

A new study from Western University shows the winds of change may be blowing when it comes to operating large-scale turbines in rural Ontario.

In "A case-control study of support/opposition to wind turbines: Perceptions of health risk, economic benefits, and community conflict," published recently by Energy Policy, Jamie Baxter from Western's Department of Geography and his team explore the conundrum that while a relatively strong majority of rural Ontarians actually living with turbines in their farming communities (69 per cent) support them, the level of positive feedback in the control community was surprisingly low (25 per cent).

Baxter concludes that the results from the control group signal that rural Ontario may, in the future, want to close their doors for business where turbines are concerned and that a more radical retooling may be needed for sustainable policy.

The findings also contradict the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) hypothesis, meaning those who don't support turbines locally do not support them generally. In this case, Baxter argues the NIMBY hypothesis is not helpful for understanding why people support/oppose or feel impacted by turbines.

"Health is really front and centre," says Baxter. "Literature suggests that how people feel about the look of turbines in the landscape, aesthetically speaking, is one of the best predictors of turbine support but that is not the case in our study."

Baxter says key predictors of support expressed in his study include health risk perception, community benefits and general community enhancement. According to the study, support seems conditional amongst those living with turbines as many citizens that are supportive remain concerned about health impacts and the fair distribution of benefits within the local community.

"Majority support could potentially turn on a dime if ongoing issues are not adequately addressed," says Baxter.

In the future, Baxter and his team will continue their research by conducting interviews with residents and establishing more detailed psychosocial outcome measures, benefits preferences and a wider variety of exposure measurements (i.e. noise, spatial juxtaposition of turbines, types of turbines).

Explore further: Studies find Midwesterners open to wind farms, especially in rural areas

More information:

Related Stories

Using fluctuating wind power

March 25, 2013

Incorporating wind power into existing power grids is challenging because fluctuating wind speed and direction means turbines generate power inconsistently. Coupled with customers' varying power demand, many wind-farm managers ...

Personality clue to 'wind turbine syndrome'

March 22, 2013

( —Public concern about new technology infrastructure like mobile phone masts has been shown to trigger reports of ill health… and recently even the new 'green' technology of wind turbines has been blamed for ...

Canadian wind opponents welcome noise study

July 11, 2012

(AP) — Opponents of wind farms are hailing Health Canada's decision to study the possible connection between noise generated by the towering turbines and adverse health effects reported by people living close to them.

More sustainable gas turbines thanks to ut research

July 19, 2013

The new generation of gas turbines is more reliable, produces less harmful emissions and generates less vibrations and pressure fluctuations. Thanks to the European Limousine Project, in which six different universities (18 ...

Recommended for you

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 24, 2013
Wanna get more support for wind turbines....just raise the price of electricity from coal thru the roof and then raise it again and again. At some point, customers will give up their undying love for animals they would step on if on their sidewalk, and start to love that which will give them lower electricity bills.
1 / 5 (5) Jul 24, 2013
Osiris, many power generation facilities are switching to natural gas as fast as they can even as we speak. Wind turbine technology has done nothing to lower electricity bills, it is more expensive than a switch to natural gas & is cost effective in mostly very rural & remote locations where stringing new power lines is difficult.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2013
Canada already has had adequate power lines in even the most rural areas for many many years. Has to do with the silly perception that no matter where someone wants to live in this country they should have access to reliable power. Also that power transmission is still all government run. There is no additional power line issues added by the turbines.

You work for a natural Gas company Benni? Or do you just have your personal investments in one?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.