The demand for more affordable and sustainable energy is increasing. Consumers and governments are looking for various renewable resources for electricity that can provide a consistent, reliable, and low-cost supply of power. Not only that, they are also searching for an energy source that will not worsen pollution and climate change. Because of these concerns, alternative forms of energy are gaining more attention worldwide.
The use of wind turbines to create wind energy is one of the more known methods talked about by environmentalists and the energy sector. The United States is aiming to produce 20 percent of its electricity by wind power by 2030. But as of 2013, wind power still only accounts for approximately 4% of the energy sector. What can be the hindrances to adopting this renewable power source? And should America and other countries be investing more money into wind turbines? To better understand the potential and challenges wind energy presents, it is best to check its advantages and disadvantages.
List of Pros of Wind Turbines
1. They provide green and renewable energy.
Wind turbines produce wind energy, which is a clean source of power. It doesn’t use any destructive chemicals or produce harmful emissions that can cause acid rain or create greenhouse gases. It is also renewable and free. Winds occur when the earth rotates, when the atmosphere is heated up by the sun, and when other irregularities happen on the earth’s surface. As long as the sun still shines and the wind still blows, you can harness wind energy.
2. They have huge potential and rapid growth.
America has an abundant supply of wind, and in the past decade the country’s cumulative wind power capacity increased by an average of 30% annually. According to several independent research teams, the total worldwide potential of wind energy is more than 400 terawatts, and it accounts for 2.5% of the total global electricity production. Also, wind is a domestic power source, and this means the United States and other countries won’t have to depend on a foreign supply of energy. In addition to that, wind turbines come in a variety of sizes so both private or commercial entities can use them to generate power for their homes or businesses.
3. They are cost-efficient.
Wind turbines are installed on agricultural land, farms, or ranches, so there isn’t a need to buy land for future wind farms. And once the turbines have been manufactured and set up, they require low operational costs. As a result, wind energy is currently one of the lowest priced renewable energy technologies. Depending upon the wind speed and the project’s financing, you can pay between two to six cents per kilowatt-hour.
4. They give savings and extra income.
Aside from being more affordable than other renewable energy technologies, wind energy can also be a great way to earn extra cash. Farmers or ranchers who open their land to wind farms will receive payment from government organizations. If you produce more power than you require from wind energy, it may go into the general electric matrix, and you can enjoy monetary incentives. Plus, you won’t be 100% reliant on electricity produced by utility companies, so you won’t suffer from power interruptions and fluctuating energy prices.
5. They create jobs.
The manufacturing of turbines and the construction of wind farms provide short and long-term employment for a variety of workers, such as structural engineers, assembly workers, lawyers, and technicians. It is predicted that the wind energy industry can support 600,000 jobs by 2050.
List of Cons of Wind Turbines
1. They might not be cost competitive.
The initial investment for wind turbines can be higher than that required for fossil-fueled generators, and it may take longer before an investor can break even with one’s expenses. You also have to consider the maintenance of turbines because it may be difficult and expensive to acquire supplies and parts depending on where you live.
2. They can be set up only in certain locations.
Since wind farms need to be located in places where there is a steady supply of wind, which is in rural areas, people in the city will not be able to reap the benefits. If the power will be sourced from farms and ranches to be used in urban settlements, there will be a need of transmission lines, which requires more investment.
3. They are noisy and an eyesore.
Some older versions of wind turbines produce a lot of noise and are prone to stick out and ruin the view. People who live near wind farms say this can affect the peace and beauty of their locality. However, modern wind turbines have been designed to create less noise. They also look sleek and come in neutral colors to prevent ruining the aesthetics of the landscape.
4. They may threaten wildlife and even people.
If part of a turbine falls, it may injure or even kill people who may be nearby. Wind turbines can also be a deathtrap for birds, bats, and other flying animals which get caught in a rotating blade. Some studies show that the number of avian fatalities in the United States caused by turbines is from 10,000 to 440,000. Modern wind turbines now have designs that can make them less harmful to flying animals.
5. They rely on wind, which can be unpredictable.
The availability and speed of wind is unpredictable, therefore it is not reliable as a base load energy source. Aside from that, wind turbines function usually at a capacity of 30% or so. So if the weather is not going to cooperate, you may end up with no power. At present, wind turbines need to be used with other energy sources in order to consistently meet the power demand. Plus the current technologies used to store wind energy are costly.
With fossil fuels causing damage to the earth at alarming rates, it is imperative that the world becomes less dependent on this source of energy. Wind turbines are one solution that should be implemented, but as with any type of power source, the feasibility and potential of wind energy should be carefully studied beforehand.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.