Why are Some People Against Wind Energy?
It's surprising to realize some people are against wind energy. Why would anyone oppose an environmentally friendly method of producing electric power? Some of the reasons have been shown not to be true but other concerns do need to be answered. The answers may come through improved technology or improved studies that provide factual knowledge.
The attitudes against wind energy may be obvious such as potential danger to wildlife or land or may be more theoretical in comparing cost vs benefits. People against wind energy use all the arguments both small and large.
Anti-Wind Energy Groups
It's common to think of anti-wind energy groups as being negative people only finding fault but that is not always the case. When questions are asked and potential problems are brought to attention it can be a boon to product development. There is often more to be learned form those people who tell you why something might not work than by listening to those who congratulate you on your brilliant idea.
You can see this interaction in the development of other technologies. Our cars now have higher requirements for miles per gallon. This improvement is not credited to people who loved their big gas-guzzling SUVs but to an environmental movement that argued low gas mileage cars were destructive.
They were against using gasoline without limits and the demands of this movement, combined with increasing costs of fossil fuels, changed the automobile industry. The same is likely to be true going forward in the technology of wind energy. Already several of the arguments of people against wind energy have been disproved.
Wildlife and Livestock
One of the charges by opponents of wind energy was that birds would be harmed in areas where wind farms were established. They feared birds would be killed flying into the tall towers or be killed by the moving propellers. Those against wind energy believe bird species in the area would disappear or relocate due to the movement and noise of wind turbines.
Studies over recent years have shown this not to be true. Birds have no relocated and seem to be capable of flying over and around the wind towers. There is no exposed glass or reflective surfaces on a wind farm that would cause birds to fly into the structure as happens in high rise buildings.
Windows and large expanses of glass have always posed a hazard as birds see their reflection or see an opening where none exists. This is not a problem that affects wind farms. Years after towers were built and began operation the bird species in the area have not changed. The birds nest, reproduce and fly as they always did and are able to easily avoid flying into the wind turbines and propellers.
Another concern of those against wind energy was the use of large amounts of land needed to locate a wind farm. These are huge structures and are usually arranged over a big portion of land.
Complaints were that the land was rendered unusable for any other purpose and that there was not enough open land available to build enough wind farms for power production. Another argument was the necessity to totally clear acres of land as trees and buildings can interfere with or redirect the air flow of the wind.
You can see evidence of this type of obstruction in cities such as Chicago. In areas around the Great Lakes where lake winds can sweep onto the land without barriers, the winds are strong and directional.
In the city the winds off the Great Lakes meet the interference of tall buildings and the result is a city where winds gust around corners and down allies and flow unevenly from block of the city to another.
Time has shown the land surrounding the wind turbines can be used by grazing livestock or planted by farmers. There is no need of a safety barrier and no polluting factors that render the land unusable. Had groups against wind energy not used this land use argument it would have taken longer perhaps to study land use around the base of wind turbine structures.
There are still those who are against wind energy but the concerns of such groups can lead to better technology. Many of the early perceptions have been disproved and there are studies underway to determine how best to store wind energy and how to increase the amount of kinetic energy that can be captured by a single turbine and converted into power.
Improved wind farms designs have led to less land being used for wind farms in the future and many such energy producing facilities may be located in pastureland of farms and ranches across the country.