The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy
The advantages and disadvantages of wind energy focus for the most part on the cost of installing wind turbines and wind farms and on the perception of their appearance.
Harnessing the wind is a concept that has been around for many years. When you fly a kite or sail a boat or go wind surfing, you are using the wind for power.
The biggest advantage of creating electricity from wind energy is the total lack of pollution involved in operation of a wind turbine. The disadvantage is the initial cost involved.
You may think wind is not predictable as an energy source. However, in many parts of the U.S. the wind is a daily visitor. The great plains are swept by winds and coastal areas have never ending sea breezes.
Windmills are what most people used to think of when wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy. Today the huge towers topped by wind turbines are a common site in many areas of the country. Wind is a renewable resource that naturally occurs and the energy it produces can be a reliable energy source.
One big advantage of wind energy is that land used for a wind farm can also be used for other purposes. It's common to see wind turbines in field where cattle graze and in some areas crops are grown on the same acreage where a wind farm is located. The production of wind energy does not affect the surrounding area in any negative way.
In theory, current wind turbine designs have reached the limit of the energy that can be produced for each turbine. New studies have questioned the assumption that wind energy is as good as it can get.
A new wind farm design places wind turbines close together and may raise the efficiency of wind energy. The common theory that has held for thirty years is to place turbines that are widely spaced.
The standard has been to increase the height and size of the turbines in an effort to increase efficiency. At Caltechm studies are under way to focus on building a more efficient wind farm design.
One focus is on whether wind turbines need to be built on such tall towers. There may be more wind at a thirty foot height but efficiency may be improved harvesting wind at heights closer to ground level by new turbines with better aerodynamic designs.
For wind energy to become widely used the life span of wind turbines needs to be lengthened. Currently the savings to the environment of creating wind energy is somewhat offset by the need to replace and recycle old turbines.
The focus of current research on wind energy is on reducing the initial cost of the towers and lessening the environmental footprint of manufacturing replacements and recycling.
The appearance of wind farms has led some people to lobby against their use. While some see a wind farm as graceful others view it as a blight on the land.
Though best use might seem to be wind farms located offshore where land use is not a consideration, homeowners with a view of the ocean have successfully prevent several water based wind farms from being built.
There is a lack of practical experience in the establishment and running of wind farms. This leads to debates of the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy but the debates are arguments over potential use of wind farms.
The wind turbine field is young and the removal and recycling of the huge towers has not been studied in depth for environmental impact. Twenty years from now we may see wind farms along many roads we travel. It's uncertain today where the wind energy industry will go and the path will be based on further studies and new technology.
When listed the advantages and disadvantages o wind energy, at least one disadvantage listed by naturalists has been proven false. Due to the constant motion and the height of wind turbines some environmentalists have resisted wind energy out of fear that bird populations would be harmed. Careful studies have shown this fear is unfounded.
Birds do not seem bothered by the wind turbines and continue to next and feed on the land after a wind farm has been built. This information as well as proof that livestock are not affected by wind turbines in the area will encourage farmers to allow wind farms to be built on their land going forward. Combining agriculture with energy production is now considered a logical plan.
The advantages and disadvantages of wind energy are based on lack of study and need for better technology and planning. There is no downside to wind energy as long as the effect on the environment justifies the installation of wind turbines.
Installing a turbine to create wind energy is an expensive proposition. Because this is new technology some companies are reluctant to invest money in wind farm until they know the technology will be useful for years to come.