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Egyptian Journal of Occupational Medicine, 2016; 40 (2) : 253-266

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOR WIND


ENERGY POWER PLANT, GABAL EL ZEET,

SUEZ GULF , IN EGYPT

By
1
Abou Shady Y, Edrees M, 3Ali MI and 2Abdel Fattah AI.
2

Principal Inspector of Nuclear Energy Commission, 2Department of Environmental Engineering,


1

Faculty of Engineering, Helwan University, 3Director of Environmental Informatics. Ministry of Environment.

Abstract
Introduction: Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most
sustainable ways to generate electricity as it produces no toxic pollution or global
warming emissions. Despite its vast potential, there are a variety of environmental
impacts associated with wind power generation that should be recognized and
mitigated. Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) is a tool for decision-makers to
identify potential environmental impacts of proposed projects, to evaluate alternative
approaches, and to design and incorporate appropriate prevention, mitigation,
management and monitoring measures. Aim of the work: the study aim at assessing
the environmental impact of the project of wind energy power plant, Gabal El Zeet,
Suez Gulf , in Egypt. Material and Method: Environmental assessment of wind
direction and intensity, turbine power, noise, electromagnetic waves and vibration is
performed. Results and Discussion: the study documents the environmental impact
parameters including noise, electromagnetic interference, vibration and bird migration.
Recommendations: the suggested method of mitigation is provided to local authorities
to be taken into consideration for the wind energy power plant, Gabal El Zeet.
Key words: Gabal El Zeet, Suez Gulf, Environmental Impact Assessment, Wind
Energy, Power Plant.

253
254 Abou Shady Y et al.,

Background Environmental impacts of projects


Wind energy is a recent addition set up electrical power plants:
to the energy mix in most areas, and Environmental effects differ in terms
regulation of wind energy is evolving of quantity and quality, also according
rapidly. Wind power is viewed by to the type, time and place. The extent of
many specialized scientists to be one the impact on the environment depends
of the prime technologies for meeting on the degree of acceptability to the
the attempt to curb CO2 emissions. community. Environmental effects may
Generation of electricity by wind be direct or indirect and may interact
energy has the potential to reduce together to occur triggering secondary
environmental impacts caused by use effects that may be more dangerous
of fossil fuels to generate electricity than the initial impact. It might have
because, unlike fossil fuels, wind negative, positive or neutral, short-term
energy does not generate atmospheric or long-term, flipped or not flipped or
contaminants or thermal pollution, thus local, regional or global environmental
being attractive to many governments, effects.
organizations, and individuals. Health effects have tabbed to be
However, in order to implement wind taken into consideration and may
energy projects, planning permission not be clear at the beginning of the
is required. For the majority of wind project and the possible effects must
farm schemes, planning permission be predicted. These effects may be
will require the presentation of an direct as a result of exposure to toxic
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and dangerous processes during the
which identifies the environmental, project. These effects may directly
social and economic impacts of harmful to the human body or indirectly
the development. This is used as such as by transmission of diseases by
a decision tool when determining water, or by a state of malnutrition.
whether planning permission should The consequent damage to the human
be considered (http://www.nap.edu/ being who is considered the backbone
read/11935/chapter/2#14). of the development of society and the
Env. Impact Assessment for Wind Energy Power 255

consequent loss of enormous amount of Study method: Environmental


money for the treatment of pathological assessment of wind direction and
conditions should be anticipated. intensity, turbine power noise,
It is mandatory to point out that electromagnetic waves and vibration
during the process of choosing the is performed. Documentation of
type of fuel to be used for energy the technical specification of the
production, negative health effects must wind turbine used at the study site.
be considered and the money spent for Previous study of bird migration were
managing ill health effects secondary included in our study to fulfill the
to hazardous fuel used should be added Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
to the bill when calculating the cost per file. Basic data were collected through
kilo of produced energy. communication with the Committee
Aim of the work: This paper will of Renewable Energy, belonging to
review the environmental Impact Ministry of Energy, Egypt.
Assessment process beside assessing Environmental Impact Assessment:
the environmental impact of the project
of wind energy power plant, Gabal Environment Impact Assessment
El Zeet, Suez Gulf , in Egypt, for (EIA) means the process of collecting,
helping decision maker to know the organizing, analyzing, interpreting
negative impact of the project aiming at and communicating information that
mitigation of the production process. is relevant to the consideration of the
application. An EIA is a predictive
Material and Method
tool, where the likely significant
Study design: It is a cross sectional effects of a development, both
environmental study
positive and negative are objectively
Place of study: Wind energy power analyzed. This information is used to
plant, Gabal El Zeet, Suez Gulf , in determine whether the development
Egypt. should go ahead or not. It is also a
Duration of the study: the study is mean of drawing, in a systematic way,
conducted between October 2014 and an assessment of a projects likely
February 2016. significant environmental effects. This
256 Abou Shady Y et al.,

helps to ensure that the importance of 2-Examine the size of the particles,
the predicted effects, and the scope for airborne surrounding site.
reducing them, are properly understood
3-Study of air pollution from the plant
by the public and the relevant
modeling.
competent authority before it makes its
decision. An EIA additionally covers, 4-Study of water quality waterways
not only natural resources, but also surrounding the site.
environmental quality and impact on 5-Study of the surrounding water cooling
communities, as environmental, social cycle and the effects on morphology
or economic. waterways and determine the
The EIA process should enable all environmental requirements of the
of these factors to be given due weight cooling water outlet modeling.
when an application is being determined. 6-Economic impact study - social.
An EIA is not only a tool for decision
7-Modeling the effects of noise from the
makers, it is also a tool for the designers
station on the different dimensions
and developers of a scheme to ensure
of them and the noise measuring site.
that they drive maximum benefits from a
development (in terms of energy output 8-Study the effect of the traffic pressure
and environmental enhancement) whilst on the roads surrounding the project
minimizing local adverse impacts. site as a result of the establishment
The EIA process can throw up design of a private station during the period
measures that sometimes can enhance of construction.
certain environments. It is therefore 9-Geological study of the site
important to incorporate EIA at the comprehensive installation of
earliest opportunity in any development ground layers and groundwater
(Kipeto Energy Limited Report, 2012). characteristics and supported with
EIA basics procedures for pictures and detailed satellite maps.
electrical power plant generation 10-Examine the ecological environment
from wind power plant: of the site and a comprehensive land
1- Ambient air quality study site. use plant and animal species.
Env. Impact Assessment for Wind Energy Power 257

11-Ecological study of water in front of Results


the site.
Detailed description of the
12-Study for quantitative risk
geographical location of the project
assessment (QRA).
13-Buy-meteorological data from the The location of the Environmental
General Authority for Meteorology. and social impact assessment (ESIA)
Consent: A letter of approval form AREA can be seen from Fig.1. It is
authorized personnel for performing
located on the Gulf of Suez, about 150
this work was taken.
km north of Hurghada and 10 to 15
Data analysis: The data were
collected analyzed and presented as km to the west of the Hurghada Suez
descriptive data. Road.

Fig.1 Location of the 300 km ESIA AREA


258 Abou Shady Y et al.,

Table 1 : Boundary Coordinates of the 200 km2 ESIA AREA (WGS84)


Point Point
No. N E No. N E
name name
1 P1 281202.34N 325453.15E 14 P14 28240.23N 324658.31E
2 P2 281345.8N 330027.11E 15 P15 28244.08N 32465.33E
3 P3 281650.48N 325829.55E 16 P16 282658.82N 32466.72E
4 P4 281716.20N 32596.63E 17 P17 28271.97N 32481.54E
5 P5 281756.79N 33 115.45E 18 P18 282959.54N 32482.35E
6 P6 280207.68N 325935.07E 19 P19 282954.70N 324459.99E
7 P7 281843.41N 325257.34E 20 P20 283057.18N 324459.80E
8 P8 281958.79N 325258.46E 21 P21 28311.90N 324413.49E
9 P9 281959.06N 325159.75E 22 P22 283821.50N 324342.56E
10 P10 28210.09N 32520.23E 23 P23 28358.00N 324217.29E
11 P11 282059.86N 325028.51E 24 P24 282947.10N 324340.10E
12 P12 28230.92N 325032.96E 25 P25 282257.74N 324559.90E
13 P13 28230.71N 32475.73E 26 P26 281758.54N 324737.91E
North: N East: E

Fig. 2 : Wind speed frequency distribution and wind rose


Env. Impact Assessment for Wind Energy Power 259

Table 1 and Fig. 2 show the direction some plants. However, these plants
of wind at the project location that is are subjected to long dry periods
named Banbassatha, This allows proper leading to their death.
installation of the units of electricity
The high wind velocity in the site
generation.
plays an important role in the severe
Winds are usually not blowing from erosion of the soil. The ground
the sea side. Nevertheless, as the desert surface in the site is mainly covered
grounds have high salt content, the by compact layer of pebbles and
climate is considered to be aggressive.
gravels. These represent desert
It is noteworthy that the natural armour, which prevents the
conditions, especially the drastic dry permeation of rain water or spilled
and windy conditions, are very much water to the subsoil. The high wind
limiting the biodiversity of the site: velocity removes the seeds and
In exceptionally rainy years, runoff other prop gules. So, the chance for
water is being collected in low parts, seeds to germinate and establish
what may lead to the growth of themselves is very poor.
Technical specifications for wind turbines used in the project:

Fig. 3: Typical Arrangement of a Wind Farm including Cabling


260 Abou Shady Y et al.,

Figure 3 shows the location of wind the nearby 500/220 kV. Moreover, at
turbines, internal roads and cables. this stage of project preparation it is
Wind turbines with unit capacities assumed that service areas (for control
of about 1.5 to 2.5 MW, rotor diameters and maintenance including spare part
of 70 to 90 m and max tip heights of 80 and tools stock) will be built at the
to 120 m are likely to be selected. Other border of the area adjacent to a 220 kV
typical features of such a project are the substation and the asphalt road or in Ras
wind turbine foundations of about 2 to Gharib, with access to the low tension
3 m depth and a surface of up to 15 x (LT) network.
15 m in case of a large turbine (2 to Birds Migration
2.5 MW), wind turbines with tubular Other environmental drawback is
towers with diameters of up to 4.5 m manifested as bird migration.
at the footing and maximum blade tip
heights of about 120 m, allowing wind The ecological and ornithological
turbine unit capacities of up to about merits of a site are surveyed prior to
2.5 Mega Watt (MW). The wind farm development, with a Phase 1 Habitat
internal grid consists of cable trenches survey in the first instance. A level
and small electrical kiosks next to each of value is established against which
wind turbine comprising of ring main to measure impact, on the basis of
station and possibly as well transformer designations, rarity, sensitivity and
and/or controller stations, if the latter ecological significance. Habitats and
will not be integrated into the turbines. species are identified, and birds are
surveyed at nesting, breeding, over
The transfer method of electric power wintering and migration times (Drewill
that is generated from the project site & Langston 2006).
The wind power collected by the The main objectives of the bird
medium tension (MT) cable grid has migration study (ornithological
to be evacuated via a new 500 kilo investigation) were:
Volt (KV) trans- mission line to be
built. Accordingly, two or three central -- To collect baseline data on migrating
220 kV substation at a central location birds (mainly soaring and gliding
of the 200 km area are considered species migrating during the day)
for evacuation of the wind power to -- To describe migration patterns of
Env. Impact Assessment for Wind Energy Power 261

relevant species in a quantitative km (Fig. 4). Observations focused


way on species that can be regarded as
-- To identify and assess possible especially vulnerable to collision
impacts regarding development strikes or other negative impacts
of wind power within the ESIA caused by wind turbines: these are
Area and finally , if necessary to mainly large birds (first of all, birds
recommend migration measures in of prey, storks and pelicans) that
order to minimize possible conflicts. principally migrate by soaring and
Therefore, standardized daytime gliding during daytime.
field observations were done The standard data set which covers
between August 22nd and October all birds migrating at distances of up
25th 2012 (autumn migration) as to 2.5 km to each observation site was
well as between March 01st and analyzed with regards to:
May 16th 2013 (spring migration),
totaling to about 696 and 801 hours Bird number, flock size and species
of observation in autumn and in composition
spring, respectively. The general Spatial, seasonal and daily
study design was similar to that distribution of bird migration, flight
used during an ornithological altitude
investigation carried out southwest
Migratory activity in relation to
of Ras Gharib in 2010 and 2011.
wind speed and direction.
Observations were done from eight
observation sites (A to H) which Migratory activity in context of the
were located at distances of about 10 result of previous studies;
262 Abou Shady Y et al.,

Fig. 4: Locations of the eight observation sites (A to H) within the ESIA AREA
in autumn 2012 (orange) and spring 2013 (blue) (circles indicate a
radius of 2.5 km around each observation site)
Table 2: Number of recorded birds, proportion (%) of the flyway population of
the most numerous species recorded in spring 2013 within the project area
Percent
Species Scientific name Number fly-way
popula- tion
White Stork Ciconia ciconia 112,729 15.0 - 25.1
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus 3,065 4.4
Black Stork Ciconia nigra 1,240 3.1
European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus 20,550 2.1
Black Kite Milvus migrans 2,239 1.7
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus 116 2.6
Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus 426 4.9
Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus 24,867 2.0
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga 62 2.8
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis 3,795 10.1
Booted Eagle Aquila pennata 156 3.1
Common Crane Grus grus 1,160 2.3

The data on the flyway population sizes are taken from Leshem & Yom-Tov
(1996) and Hilgerton (2009) .
Env. Impact Assessment for Wind Energy Power 263

Noise, Electromagnetic Interferences to a sound pressure level of 50-60


and Vibrations dB(A), which is about the same level
Noise as conversational speech. A number
of attenuating factors e.g. atmospheric
Noise from a wind turbine is
absorption and barrier attenuation are
predicted from manufacturers
information on source sound pressure then added. The sound pressure level
levels based on a reference wind speed has the advantage of being an objective
at a certain height above the ground yet a handy measure of sound intensity,
(usually 10m). From a single wind but it has the drawback that it is far
turbine this is usually between 90 and from being an accurate measure of what
100 dB(A). At 40m, this translates is actually perceived (ETSU .,1997a).

Table 3: The Law 4/1994, executive regulations, require maintaining the


following critical ambient noise levels at day (7 am to 6 pm) and night
times (6 pm to 7 am):
Day Night
Receptor
dB (A) dB (A)
Industrial areas (heavy industries) 70 60
Commercial & downtown 65 55
Mixed Residential, commercial, small industrial 60 50
Residential areas in cities 55 45

The following receptors inside and in the surroundings of the project boundaries
were identified and assigned to the relevant receptor cluster, whereby the Ras Gharib
settlement is far away from the wind farm as shown in Table (4):
264 Abou Shady Y et al.,

Table (4): the Ras Gharib settlement around the wind farm:

Noise limit
Receptor Noise limit cluster dB (A)

Explosives storage about 200 m to


Mixed Residential, commercial, small
the north of the Ras Gha- rib Nile 50
industrial, if manned
Valley road

Ras Gharib (about 6 km away from


Residential areas in cities 45
the nearest area point)

If noise levels were above the characteristics of the rotor blades, signal
recommended levels, mitigation will frequency receiver, characteristics, and
involve reducing turbine numbers, radio wave propagation characteristics
moving turbines away from sensitive in the local atmosphere (Burral, 2004).
properties, or adapting the turbine Effects include blocking or scattering
specification (e.g. adding baffles of signals. Scattering of signal may
and acoustic insulation to generator affect domestic TV. Any blocking or
housing). A change of turbine scattering of signals is considered
manufacturer can also help sometimes. significant and requires mitigation
Electromagnetic Interferences measures. Assessment of line of site
Wind turbines could potentially radio and microwave signals transmitted
cause electromagnetic interference with through the site by consultation with
aviation radar and telecommunication various users of EM transmissions. For
systems (e.g. microwave, television, mitigation procedures, moving turbines
and radio). This interference could or rerouting electromagnetic signals are
be caused by three main mechanisms, both established mitigation measures.
namely near-field effects, diffraction, For TV receptors an installation or
and reflection or scattering. The nature of modification of a local repeater station
the potential impacts depends primarily or cable connection can alleviate
on the location of the wind turbine impacts (Scottish Natural Heritage,
relative to the transmitter and receiver, 2005).
Env. Impact Assessment for Wind Energy Power 265

A military radar is operated at a Final Mitigation and Design:


distance of 3 km from the south-eastern Following the mentioned
border of the ESIA AREA. As the area environmental assessment, the design
was already cleared by the Ministry of of the wind-farm is amended and a final
Defense before being assigned for. assessment made of all the assessments.
Vibrations Studying the impacts and how is a
Planning Decision made?
Vibrations may result from wind
turbine operation. However, wind The decision making authorities
turbines working under regular must take into account the results of
all of the impact assessment presented
conditions with the blades correctly
in the EIS, including local impacts
balanced and the main shaft correctly
and the wider, global impacts. The
adjusted show very little vibration.
decisions must be placed against some
The propagation of the vibration is considerations such as National Energy
dampened by the foundation body and Policy and Planning Policy Statements.
there is very little transmission into the
Weighing up these parameters is a
underground, especially in case of a
difficult process and often depends on
non-rocky under-ground like in most of
who is on the decision making panel
the part of the subject project area. Thus, and who is objecting party.
vibration effects will not be measurable
Conclusions and recommendations:
in the underground already nearby the
wind turbines. Moreover, vibrations The environmental benefits of wind-
or very low-frequency infrasound energy development, mainly reductions
in atmospheric pollutants, are enjoyed at
produced by wind turbines are the
wide spatial scales. Balancing negative
same as those produced by vehicular
and positive environmental and
traffic and home appliances and are
socioeconomic impacts of wind energy;
similar to the beating frequency of and incorporating public opinions
peoples hearts. Such infra-sounds into the review process. Regulatory
are not special and convey no special agencies should adopt and routinely use
risk factors (Institute of Ecology and an evaluation guide in their reviews of
Environmental Management, 2006). wind-energy projects.
266 Abou Shady Y et al.,

Some pointers emerging: hayesmckenzie.co.uk/downloads/ETSU%20


Full%20copy%20(Searchable).pdf
EIA can be used as a design tool as 4. Hilgerloh, G (2009): The desert at Zait Bay,
well as decision tool Egypt: a bird migration bottleneck of global
importance. Bird conservation International;
It can aid maximizing output whilst 19:338-352.
minimizing negative environmental 5. Institute of Ecology and Environmental
Management (2006): Guidelines for Ecological
impact
Impact Assessment in the United Kingdom.
EIA requires objectivity (though 6. Kipeto Energy Limited Report ( 2012):
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
some assessments).
Study for a Proposed 100MW Wind Energy
Ensure adequate information is Project, Kajiado District, Kenya. Report
available for decision makers No.KT/1000/002/11. https://www3.opic.
gov/environment/eia/kipeto/SEIA%20site/
References merged%20SEIA.pdf
7. Leshem, Y and Yom-Tov Y (1996): The
1. Burral, P (2004): Putting wind turbines in their
place. Town and Country Planning, 73: 60 - 63. magnitude and timing of migration by soaring
2. Drewill, A and Langston, R (2006): Assessing raptors, pelicans and strokes over Israel. Ibis;
the impacts of wind farms on birds. IBIS, 148: 138:188-203
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