Wind energy is becoming more popular as awareness of its benefits spreads. But like any other form of power generation, wind energy has its pros and cons.
This article looks at the main advantages and disadvantages of wind energy. We will also discuss the potential problems arising from too much reliance on wind as an energy source.
Advantages of Wind Energy
1. Help The Environment
When it comes to wind farms’ advantages, the first thing that always comes to mind is that wind energy is environmentally friendly.
Unlike coal and natural gas plants, wind turbines produce minimal greenhouse emissions that can harm the environment.
A wind farm produces 90 times less carbon dioxide than a coal-fired power plant of the same capacity.
In addition, wind farms can help improve local air quality by reducing the emissions of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.
2. Reduce Reliance On Foreign Fuel Sources
Another significant advantage of wind energy is that it can help reduce a country’s reliance on foreign fuel sources.
For example, the United States currently relies on foreign oil for more than 75% of its energy needs.
Additionally, the United States government spends more than $81 billion a year to protect global oil supplies!
If more countries started using wind energy, that reliance could be significantly reduced.
Using wind energy would help improve a country’s energy security and save them a lot of money in the long run.
3. Create More Jobs
Another advantage of wind energy is that it can create more jobs than traditional forms of energy.
For example, the wind industry employs more than 117,000 people in the United States alone. And that number is expected to grow in the coming years as the demand for wind energy increases.
4. Attract Tourists
Believe it or not but wind farms tourism is a thing. Many people travel to areas where wind farms are located specifically to see them.
This can be great for local economies as people will spend money on food, lodgings, and other services.
5. Low Operating & Maintenance Costs
Another advantage of wind energy is relatively low operating and maintenance costs.
Once a wind turbine is installed, the only ongoing costs are for things like repairs and maintenance.
This is in contrast to traditional forms of energy, which require a lot of ongoing upkeep and expensive fuel sources.
6. Space Efficient
Wind turbines are also much more space-efficient than traditional forms of energy.
For example, a coal-fired power plant can require 19 acres of land per megawatt.
But a wind farm only needs about three-quarters of an acre per megawatt of electricity produced.
Additionally, the space between the turbines can be used for other purposes such as farming or ranching.
Disadvantages Of Wind Energy
1. High Initial Costs
The most significant disadvantage of wind energy is the high initial costs.
Wind turbines can cost $1 million per MW of capacity compared to $800,000 per MW for natural gas plants.
This means that a wind farm can take up to 15 years to become profitable.
However, wind energy costs have been dropping rapidly in recent years and are expected to continue to do so.
2. Noise & Visual Pollution
Wind turbines can often be heard from miles away, which can be a big problem for people who live near them.
Noise pollution can cause sleep problems, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus, and other health issues.
In addition, many people believe that wind turbines are an eyesore and spoil the natural beauty of an area.
However, this is a subjective issue, and many people find wind turbines aesthetically pleasing.
3. Can Disrupt Wildlife
Wind turbines can also disrupt wildlife, especially birds and bats.
Bats are particularly susceptible to wind turbines. Thousands of dead bats can be found under wind turbines in North America alone. We don’t know the exact reason for this, but it is thought to be because the bats are attracted to the turbines (perhaps because of the insects drawn to them).
Additionally, it is estimated that around 681,000 birds are killed by wind turbines in the United States each year.
This number includes various bird species, but most are migratory birds.
Another downside of wind energy is that it is unpredictable, and it suffers from something called intermittency.
This means that the amount of energy produced by a wind turbine can vary greatly depending on the weather conditions.
Wind doesn’t blow all the time, which means that there are times when there won’t be any electricity produced. This can be a significant issue for countries or regions that rely heavily on wind energy.
Many countries that use wind energy also have backup power sources such as natural gas or hydroelectric dams to get around this problem.
The development of storage technologies such as batteries is also helping to make wind energy more reliable.