Wind energy (also wind power) is energy that is generated by the movement of the wind. An old fashioned windmill is a basic example of the way in which wind energy can be generated: here, the wind is used to turn a mill that grinds grain.
Wind energy is a type of kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is energy that uses movement of some kind: the word ‘kinesis’ is Greek for movement. So, as we can see the wind’s movement here is key to the way that wind energy is generated.
Wind energy involves the use of windmills to produce power for heating and lighting purposes. Since it offers clean energy, many people including environmental enthusiast are being attracted to it. Many scientific studies are being carried out to improve wind power harnessing.
Since the world population keeps soaring, the available sources of power are becoming heavily depleted. Some lands are left bare for windmill set up purposes.
In order to work better, windmills are either placed vertically or horizontally. The latter is the most preferred. When the wind blows, the blades spin causing the generator to fire up producing electricity for use.
In the present day, wind energy is usually harvested by means of mechanical ‘wind farms’: groups of wind turbines that can be situated in fields, on hills or out to sea: anywhere windy in fact! But, is wind energy actually a good idea? Here, we help you to decide with our list of pros and cons of wind energy.
Pros/Advantages/Arguments in favor of Wind Energy
1. Wind energy is a cleaner source of energy. It is eco friendly. No CO2 emissions are released by wind farms, and neither are any other pollutants. Wind power doesn’t have a power plant set up that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as fossil fuels.
2. It’s a sustainable form of energy. As long as the wind blows and the sun shines, wind power can be harnessed for heating and lighting purposes.
3. Effortless. Once they are set up, you can leave wind turbines to generate energy all by themselves as the wind blows through them. They need very little maintenance and can simply be left to ‘do their thing’. Wind turbines will generally work automatically: they will start automatically when the average wind speed is greater than 3-5 m/s. In addition, when the wind speed becomes too great and thus poses the danger of damaging the wind turbine’s blades, the turbine is designed to ‘furl’ automatically to protect itself (the furling can also be done manually by the owner of the wind farm turning a handle).
4. Creates job opportunities. Human personnel is required during the installation, maintenance and distribution of wind power.
5. Carbon offsetting. Funding a wind farm is an excellent way for businesses to offset their carbon emissions, and investing in wind energy is indeed one of the most popular choices for businesses that want to discharge their environmental responsibilities.
4. Cost effective. The wind is a totally free natural resource, and once they are up and running wind turbines can be a very cost effective way of generating energy from something that is naturally available to all. Additionally, they only use a smaller area of a land.
5. Develops rural areas. Since wind power needs plenty of lands, rural areas farmers can earn an income by renting out unused parts of their ranches.
5. Totally renewable. Some forms of energy – for instance, burning wood or fossil fuels – run the risk of depleting natural resources. When you have burnt all of the coal in the world, there will be none left! This is not the case with the wind.
7. Lights up rural areas. Rural areas that are far away from other sources of power can use wind power for their heating and lighting needs.
8. Beauty. Most wind turbines are tall and create a magnificent sight to look at. Some people find wind turbines to be very majestic and beautiful to look at.
9. Cuts on fossil fuel usage. Due to the rise in global warming issues, most environmentalists and governments advocate wind power use hence cutting back on fossil fuel use.
10. Their technology has improved. The former clunky-looking windmills have been replaced with classy, new windmills. They also come in different sizes and capacity to allow individuals buy according to their power needs.
11. Feats of engineering. Wind turbines are a brilliant example of the problem solving power of engineering.
12. Powerful. A wind farm can generate enough power to provide electricity for a whole village. This can be a powerful source of energy!
13. Combination with other land uses. Wind farms can be installed in fields that are used for grazing sheep or cattle. So, they do not stop farmers from using their fields for other purposes too.
14. A visible statement. Wind farms are very imposing landmarks, making a visible statement about the need to use renewable, green energy sources.
Cons/Disadvantages/Arguments against Wind Energy
1. Turbines are noisy. Even though wind power causes less harm to the environment, the noisy turbines are still a major concern. People living close to wind farms sometimes complain that they are noisy.
2. Transport. Wind farms are often situated in remote areas which means that transporting personnel, machinery and so on to the site of a wind farm can be quite time consuming.
3. They cause aesthetic pollution. A myriad of turbine blades in every neighborhood changes the natural outlook of the landscape.
4. Not suitable for all areas. Some countries do not have the right climate to harness wind power.
5. Turbine blades are hazardous. Fast spinning turbines can damage the local wildlife.
6. Promote soil degradation. The land where windmills are placed remains unused leading to a waste of valuable soil nutrients. Additionally, the land loses fertility through wind erosion.
7. Disruption to marine life. Wind farms are often situated a little way out to sea, which can disrupt the habitats of some marine life. Further, wind turbines’ blades can be dangerous for birds and bats that attempt to fly between them.
8. It’s an unreliable source of power. As it is dependent on the strength of the wind, wind energy is not always consistently reliable. Wind power depends on weather conditions which are bound to change. This means sometime you’ll have less power or nothing at all.
9. The land used could be better off left for agricultural purposes. In places with unstable weather patterns, wind power won’t be a lucrative business idea. The land could give forth better returns when left for agricultural use.
10. Obstructing some uses of the land. If land is already being used for a wind farm, it cannot be used for development or forestation.
11. Promotes deforestation. Before windmills are set up, the land has to be cleared of all trees and vegetation to allow wind to flow freely. Deforestation destroys the ecosystem by causing droughts, and soil erosion.
12. Weather damage. Because they are exposed to the elements, wind turbines can become weather damaged in storms or other extreme weather events.
13. Depends on government subsidies. Wind power development projects are curtailed since they depend entirely on governments for funds-which normally take long to arrive.
14. Wind turbines interfere with TV signals. Most of the flat lands occupied by windmills are coincidentally the best spots for TV and communication system boosters.
Though it may require substantial funds to get up and running, a wind farm is a very good source of environmentally friendly energy. Wind energy is very cost effective once the turbines have been installed. Moreover, though there have been problems reported about wind turbine blades posing a problem for birds and bats, these problems can be solved simply by opting for a more wildlife friendly design.
While the technology is still growing, there is still a lot that needs to be explored about wind power. In highly populated countries where sources of energy are limited, wind power can be used as a supplement. With the world trying harder to come up with cleaner sources of power, it is believed that the wind power sector will soon be revitalized.
Wind energy is not compatible with all other uses of land: if a field has been reserved for wind turbines, for instance, it cannot also be used for housing. However, wind farms can co-exist quite happily with grazing land. Wind turbines are, in sum, a great example of how humans should be using engineering to reduce CO2 emissions.
Also read: Wind Power (Wikipedia).