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Although wind turbines have become familiar in much of the U. The advantages and disadvantages of wind energy are detailed here to help you decide what the future of wind should be in the United States. Wind energy can diversify the economies of rural communities, adding to the tax base and providing new types of income. Wind turbines can add a new source of property taxes in rural areas that otherwise have a hard time attracting new industry.
All energy systems are subsidized, and wind is no exception. However, wind receives considerably less than other forms of energy. A study published by researchers at Harvard in found that the full life cycle cost of coal power is between about 9.
Numbers are in dollars. Unlike other forms of electrical generation where fuel is shipped to a processing plant, wind energy generates electricity at the source of fuel, which is free. Wind is a native fuel that does not need to be mined or transported, taking two expensive costs out of long-term energy expenses.
The price of electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power can fluctuate greatly due to highly variable mining and transportation costs. Wind can help buffer these costs because the price of fuel is fixed and free. Wind energy projects create new short and long term jobs. Related employment ranges from meteorologists and surveyors to structural engineers, assembly workers, lawyers, bankers, and technicians. Wind turbines diversify our energy portfolio and reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuel.
Wind energy is homegrown electricity, and can help control spikes in fossil fuel cost. Distributed generation facilities, like many community wind projects, provide a safeguard against potential terrorist threats to power plants. It is not often a new crop emerges from thin air. Wind turbines can be installed amid cropland without interfering with people, livestock, or production.
A significant contribution to the worldwide energy mix can be made by small clusters of turbines or even single turbines, operated by local landowners and small businesses.
Developing local sources of electricity means we import less fuel from other states, regions, and nations. It also means our energy dollars are plowed back into the local economy. Turbines produce no particulate emissions that contribute to mercury contamination in our lakes and streams. Wind energy also conserves water resources.
For example, producing the same amount of electricity can take about times more water with nuclear power than wind, and about times more water with coal than wind. Other sources of electricity produce harmful particulate emissions which contribute to global climate change and acid rain. Wind energy is pollution free. The sources of most of our power, coal and natural gas, produce large quantities of greenhouse gases.
Coal much more than natural gas. Wind power produces none, other than in the manufacture, installation and maintenance of the turbines. On average those greenhouse gases are offset by the clean power the turbines produce within 9 months of operation. Harvesting the wind preserves our resources because there no need for destructive resource mining or fuel transportation to a processing facility.
Wind farms are spaced over a large geographic area, but their actual "footprint" covers only a small portion of the land resulting in a minimum impact on crop production or livestock grazing. Turbines produce electricity only when the wind blows. This variability is monitored and compensated in the same way utilities monitor demand changes each day, so there are not any actual changes in power supply for the end users.
People have widely varied reactions to seeing wind turbines on the landscape. Some people see graceful symbols of economic development and environmental progress or sleek icons of modern technology. Others might see industrial encroachment in natural and rural landscapes. There are many ways to minimize the visual impact of wind turbines, including painting them a neutral color, arraying them in a visually pleasing manner, and designing each turbine uniformly.
Shadow flicker occurs when the blades of the rotor cast a shadow as they turn. Research has shown the worst-case conditions would affect, by way of light alteration, neighboring residents a total of minutes per year, and only 20 minutes per year under normal circumstances. Designers of wind farms avoid placing turbines in locations where shadow flicker would be a problem any significant amount of time. Wind turbines are not silent. The sounds they produce are typically foreign to the rural settings where wind turbines are most often used, but as turbine technology has improved over the years, the amount of sound has fallen considerably.
As with any construction project or large structure, wind energy can impact plants and animals, depending on the sensitivity of the area. Loss of wildlife habitat and natural vegetation are the primary wildlife concerns associated with wind energy. With modern turbines, mounted on tubular towers and whose blades spin only about 15 times per minute, bird collisions are now rare. Extensive environmental impact analysis is an integral part of project development to mitigate impacts as much as possible.
The Audubon Society and Sierra Club both support wind energy development, because the environmental advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Wind systems can involve the transportation of large and heavy equipment. This can cause a large temporarily disturbed area near the turbines. Erosion is another potential environmental problem that can stem from construction projects. The single most reliable technique for limiting erosion is to avoid grading roads and to perform site reclamation post construction.
Radar interference by wind turbines is rare and easily avoided through technological improvements and proper siting of turbines that are close to sensitive areas.
A number of U. For the sake of the planet, national security, rural economic revitalization, and resource preservation we must promote a renewable energy economy. Wind power can be a cornerstone of that sustainable energy future because it is affordable, provides jobs, substantial and distributed revenue, and treads lightly on our environment without causing pollution, generating hazardous wastes, or depleting natural resources.
Embracing wind energy today will lay the foundation for a healthy tomorrow. Home Areas of Work Advocacy. In Summary For the sake of the planet, national security, rural economic revitalization, and resource preservation we must promote a renewable energy economy.
Do you like this post? Sign in with Facebook Twitter. Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account. Donoven Chase commented Actually coal plants are heavily subsidized in America.
I am not sure as to the figures behind that or behind the nuclear industry which we can safely assume receives its fair share , but my own research into energy shows extensive subsidization into the coal industry. I looked into the Nymedium you referenced and was unable to find any coherent sources addressing this as a concern, but I would be more than pleased to understand more about the topic as you seem to understand in detail how important it is. Research and development in the field of wind energy has made it immensely more feasible with less and less side effects.
It is understood that no one form of energy creation will supply the entire globe, but rather a mixture of energy sources will be necessary to achieve the most desirable conditions both environmentally and economically. This is to be found mostly in America and Europe with stress on offshore wind projects. Furthermore, the efficiency of wind energy reduces the cost of energy across the board in states that have given funding to wind energy projects.
Yes there will always be a downside somewhere, but the downsides of wind energy are fewer and less severe. Wind energy is going to be a part of the future regardless of how we feel about it. Pam Sinclair commented Could you please touch on the fact that the rare earth mineral my medium is required to make the magnets that run the engines. It is then shipped using oil and gas I would presume to wherever they build these steel monstrosities o and G and I have yet to discover once decommissioned what you will do with them.
Dan Larson commented Contrary to what is written, nuclear and coal plants are not subsidized. I also think wind turbines could be a national security concern. They are very vulnerable. Lisa Huang commented I came across this when writing my paper on how adopting wind energy can emerge a more sustainable future for China.
I believe that the disadvantages of wind energy can be outweighed by the advantages of it. The development of wind energy can be a harm to wildlife, but further research has shown that by reducing the speeds of wind turbines, or painting them a different colour can reduce bat moralities to a great degree.
It provides us with our needs electricity , and on top of that cleans the air, and creates a great number of jobs. Wind energy will definitely become the catalyst for radical change in the energy sector! Alec Sevins commented The visual impact of wind turbines is huge in terms of vertical and horizontal spread, plus access roads and deforestation for tower clearances. With , already installed 45, in America they are physically the biggest rural construction projects, visible to more people than fracking and mining due to their invasion of lands and ocean that never would have been developed otherwise.
These machines are just too large and widely dispersed to be environmentally benign, unless one is blind, deaf or paid to look away. The mentality of workers who install wind turbines is barely different than any other extractive industry.
Remove the blades from wind turbines and they look just like large smokestacks, which would be immediately called eyesores. Glenda Agan commented Just wanting to check this out, can someone give me the comparison on cost of wind vs. Lisa Daniels commented Take a look at our other pages on this subject: Lucy Tidd commented How expensive are maintenance and operating costs? Is lots of electricity generated for these costs?