Wind Energy: What are the Pros and Cons?
Due to the rapid climate change, governments of developed countries are trying to use renewable energy sources and investing more to develop them. Wind energy is now considered as the second best well-established energy source after solar energy.
Many countries taking initiatives to setup windmill to run at least one-fourth of the total electrical energy demands of industries, businesses, and households. So far, the initiatives are seemed to work according to the plan. However, there are some limitations in using such an energy source as well.
If you are thinking about using wind energy for your household or business, it would be worth looking at its pros and cons and plan wisely after that.
What Actually is the Wind Energy?
Wind energy is referred to renewable energy which is generated by the wind with the help of wind turbines. These turbines have blades that spin when the wind flows and produce kinetic energy which is transformed into mechanical power. This mechanical power aka electricity is used to power electric appliances and devices.
You will be amazed to know that, this is not the first time mankind is using wind as an energy source. Earlier, the ancient civilizations used to power their boats and sail using such energy. Also, windmills were used for grinding grains and pumping water from the ground as well.
During 1887, wind energy was used for powering an entire building for the first time. That turbine use built using cloth sails measuring 10 meters only, which is very tiny compared to the turbines that we see these days.
Pros of Having Wind Energy
1. It's Clean and Environment-Friendly
Unlike fossil fuels and nuclear power, wind energy doesn't pollute the mother nature that much. It doesn't release harmful toxic chemicals to the earth's atmosphere and doesn't cause the greenhouse effect as well.
However, one might argue that the process of building a wind turbine slightly impacts the environment, but it’s quite insignificant compared to what fossil fuels do. If you are an environmentalist or a person who doesn't want to cause any harm to the nature; the more you will learn about it, the more you will love these turbines.
2. Renewable and Free
There is no assurance that mankind will not run out of fossil fuels, but this is not the case with the wind. As long as the sun bestows its light on us and wind blows, this source of energy will never go away. It will always renew itself and will never run out.
If you live in a place where there is a lot of wind, then you can even get more benefit from this energy source. Even if the wind moderately blows most of the time, you will be able to use wind energy to power your home appliances and devices all year round.
3. One Turbine to Power Multiple Households
One of the advantages of the wind turbine is, one turbine can supply power to multiple houses in a community at once. So, you and your neighbors can share the turbine while reducing electricity bill significantly. On top of it, you don't need to bear the entire setup cost alone, the neighbors will contribute as well.
4. Lower Operational Cost than Fossil Fuel
Most of the wind turbine installed in the United States has an operational lifespan of about 120,000 hours. That means on an average a wind turbine can be used for about 20 years. The maintenance cost of these turbines is about 1.5% of the investment annually. It would require $300,000 to maintain a 10-megawatt turbine each year.
On the other hand, coal-fired power plants require $43 to produce one-kilowatt energy. The maintenance cost of per megawatt is $43,000 annually. So, a 10-megawatt coal power plant would require about $430,000 for its maintenance per year.
All these calculations tell us that, wind energy is more cost-efficient than fossil fuel power plants.
5. It’s a Proven Technology
When it’s about wind energy, it’s not something that is under development. The technology is well established and been using for around 1,000 years, and day by day the wind turbine technology is improving impressively. So, you don’t need to hesitate before investing in this project.
Although wind turbines of today can produce up to 20 megawatts of energy, scientists and engineers are working on increasing its potentiality up to 75 megawatts.
The newest models of wind turbine look quite attractive. They don't look like age-old windmills, instead, they have a slick design and eye-catching white color that can increase the beauty of an open space.
6. Source of Income for Land Owners
If you have an unused large piece of land, you can rent it to the government for wind turbine project. Also, you can install one by yourself and rent to nearby homeowners.
However, lands that always have more wind than average, turbines in those lands can generate more power. If you have such a land, you can fulfill your energy demands and also sell general power matrix to an electric company.
7. Space Efficient
Wind turbines can also be installed in existing farms without harming the plants. Since turbines take a small amount of area for installation, there is no reason to compromise the cultivating areas. The farmers can continue to use their lands for main purpose.
8. Relatively Stable Cost
As fossil fuels are considered as a commodity and there is no fixed cost behind them, so, the pricing highly fluctuates. For example, the cost of per barrel of crude oil is much higher today then what it was in 10 years ago.
When it comes to wind energy, there is no additional cost to produce this energy as the wind is free. Once you install a turbine, there will be no fuel cost because the blessing of mother nature is absolutely free of cost.
9. Faster Growth with Huge Potential for Residential and Business Usage
The use of wind turbine has been increasing enormously since the last decade. Cumulative wind power capacity is increasing by 30% per year, according to the U.S. department of energy. As these turbines are available in various sizes, mass people are willing to take advantage of it for their own or sell it to electrical companies for additional profits.
Cons of Having Wind Energy
1. The Fuel is inconsistent
The biggest drawback of wind energy is the wind doesn't flow consistently over all the places. There might be an overflow of wind when the energy requirements are low, and underflow when the energy demand is the most. Since, there is no effective way to store wind energy, this source of fuel is unpredictable in this sense.
Although wind turbine is a very cost-effective investment, it requires high financial initiatives at the beginning. One of the reasons for this is to maintain a fierce competition between wind energy and well-established sources of energy such as coal and fossil fuels.
3. Threat to Wildlife
As the turbines spin in the air, flying creatures such as birds, bats, and others have a low chance of survival if there is a direct hit from a spinning turbine blade. Studies have estimated that the annual avian fatalities cause by wind turbines in the U.S. alone can range 10,000 to 440,000. So, it’s like a killing machine that can kill millions of birds.
Although wind turbines don’t have impact on greenhouse effect, they create a high level of noise. Homes nearby large turbines regularly complain about the noise of this invention. The rotating blades further enhance the wind sound. In addition, it also produces mechanical sounds but it only bothers people close to it.
The growing interest in this energy opens the door for more research and engineering to make this technology even better and environment-friendly. Recent turbine models run much quieter than model ones and look more beautiful.
5. Difficult to Maintain
After every major storm and minor hurricane, the turbines need to check whether the blades are in place or not. Sometimes, storms completely destroy turbine blades of that area.
6. Safety Concern
If a turbine blade breaks, it can fall on vehicles and nearby houses. It may also fall on people nearby and cause them serious physical damage, or even death.
7. Compromising Trees
Wind turbine farms take a huge area to set everything up. Installation of those turbines may require cutting down trees and whole green elements in some areas.
8. Not Suitable for Every Location
Turbines can only be installed in certain locations that have a high flow of wind. And as turbine farms are set up in rural and remote areas, it will further require to build transmission lines to provide power to residential areas and cities.
Despite having some negative factors of wind energy, this technology is worth considering to stop environmental damages that fossil fuels are causing. As the cost of wind energy seems to decrease due to its high demand, in the future, more people will step forward to invest in this low-cost electricity than traditional ones.