Wind Energy: What are the Pros and Cons?
Wind energy is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy alongside solar energy. It accounts for more than 20% of UK’s annual electricity production and the US aims to produce 20% electricity from wind by 2030.
The increased use of wind energy has helped reduce reliance on fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. Being a renewable source of energy, it doesn’t result on production of greenhouse gases.
Wind energy virtually costs zero. This is because despite high initial costs, the operational costs are negligible. Of course, more research is required to lower initial investment and make wind a more viable source of energy for businesses and households. More governments are providing tax incentives to help advance the wind energy sector.
With fossil fuels expected to run out in a few thousand years, it’s not too early to look for substitutes from the sun and wind. If you are looking to invest in wind energy, it is important that you learn more about the advantages and disadvantages it has to offer.
Pros of Wind Energy:
Renewable source of energy
Wind is free and readily available, especially for those who live in areas that get a lot of wind. Unlike fossil fuels like coal and gas, wind cannot be drained. As long as the sun shines and heats the earth unevenly, wind will blow and generate electricity.
Additionally, the cost of transmitting wind power has reduced considerably over the past century. Continued developments and technological advancements will only contribute to lower costs with time. You will recover the initial cost of investment with time
Clean source of power
Generating electricity from wind energy is a clean process. This is to say that wind doesn’t cause environmental pollution. Unlike using oil and coal, it doesn’t result in production of greenhouse gases. This reduces the over reliance on fossil fuels imported from other countries, thus improving the national economy.
More savings for landowners
Individuals that lease land to wind homesteads make a considerable amount of money. Creating wind farms creates job opportunities. Some governments pay landowners if they can install turbines on their land. In cases where excess power from your wind farm goes into the general electric grid, electric companies may end up owing you money.
Fast growth and plenty of potential
There has been a lot of grow in the wind energy sector over the past few decades. It accounts for 2.5% of the world’s electricity production. The US Department of Energy cites that the cumulative wind power capacity increases by an average of 30% per year. Turbines come in multiple sizes and as such, individuals and businesses can either produce energy for their own use or sale.
Cost effective source of power
Wind turbines are capable of powering multiple homes and what’s even better is that you don’t have own a turbine to reap its benefits. The end goal is to power your home and you can purchase the service from organizations that harness electricity from wind turbines. This eliminates the need for high initial costs associated with installing wind turbines.
Use of modern technology
Wind turbines are an impressive technology. Unlike old windmills that were clunky and rustic, modern models are white and slick. This means you never have to worry about them becoming an eyesore on your land.
Can be built on existing farms
One of the biggest advantages of turbines is that they can be built on existing farms. You can install them on agricultural land in rural areas. This provides farmers with a source of income since companies have to pay to lease land for wind power generation.
Some of the largest wind turbines can power more than 600 homes. And while they cannot be placed close together, the land between the turbines can be used for other purposes like farming.
Disadvantages of Wind Energy:
High initial investment cost
One of the biggest downsides to using wind energy is the high amount of money required to get started. Supplies required to install turbines are incredibly expensive. In addition, it may be difficult to find a supplier depending on where you live.
Suitable for certain locations
Wind turbines need to be installed in areas with high wind velocity for efficient electricity production. Because such locations are only available in rural areas, transmission lines bringing power to homesteads in cities have to be built. Setting up the infrastructure requires extra investment.
Winds don’t blow reliability and as such, turbines only function at 30% capacity. If the weather conditions are not favorable, homeowners may end without power. In addition, strong winds and serious storms may cause damage to turbines. The same is true when turbines are struck by lightning.
Noise and visual pollution
Installing and maintaining turbines on a regular basis can be annoying. They make sounds of up to 50-60 decibels, which is pretty loud if installed near a home. Some individuals believe turbines are ugly, and complaints from neighbors may become a common occurrence.
Safety of people
Strong winds and severe storms can cause damage to turbines. when that happens, malfunctioning blades are a safety hazard. They may fall on people working nearby, causing injuries, physical disabilities or even death.
Threat to wildlife
Turbines are a threat to wildlife, especially to birds flying around them.
Effect on environment
Setting up a turbine requires open land, and this may mean cutting down some trees. This kinda eliminates the green thing you are actually trying to do. City codes and mandates are not always easy to deal with. For instance, height requirements may make it difficult to install a turbine.
Turbines are generally complicated, but the basic concept is that they harness electricity from kinetic energy from the wind. The future of wind energy looks promising, with more governments investing in the technology and providing tax incentives.
It will be interesting to see how much the sector will have grown 2-3 years from now. That said, we hope you know more about the benefits and downsides of using wind energy.