Wind Energy Advantages and Disadvantages
Wind energy advantages and disadvantages are important considerations when making decisions about energy with the environment in mind. A cleaner future will involve a mix of energy sources, including those that are renewable like wind power.
Wind is produced as the sun heats the earth unevenly due to the earth’s rotation and geographic features. Warm air rises to create low-pressure areas, while cold air sinks to create high-pressure areas. Air molecules typically move from high pressure areas to low ones, creating the phenomenon we experience as wind.
Harnessing wind as energy is an idea that is thousands of years old. Because it does not involve burning limited fossil fuels and because using wind energy does not decrease the amount of wind, it is considered a renewable energy source. While there are wind power advantages and disadvantages, wind energy has a valuable role to play in a climate-friendly power grid.
Advantages of Wind Energy
In considering wind power pros and cons, the advantages of wind energy are many. These are the reasons for investing in wind power generating capacity.
1. Wind is a type of clean energy
First off, how does wind energy work? It starts with a turbine that the wind turns as it blows. The wind’s kinetic energy turns a generator in the structure that creates electricity. Modern wind turbines are extremely efficient at turning even light breezes into electricity.
One of the advantages of wind energy is that it is clean energy, meaning that it doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses when generating electricity. Your carbon footprint is the total of all gasses, like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, that result from burning fossil fuels. If you can burn less fossil fuel for energy, replacing it with clean, renewable energy like from wind, you reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Wind is a renewable energy source
Another advantage of wind energy is that it is renewable energy. It comes from wind, which is a naturally occurring resource that doesn’t get used up. How is green energy different from renewable energy? In addition to coming from an unlimited resource, it does not produce greenhouse gasses. In these ways, wind energy is similar to solar energy.
3. Wind power has a low operating cost
Because wind power is a renewable energy source, there is no ongoing expense to acquire fuel. Once the wind turbine is installed, the only real cost is maintenance. As the world decarbonizes electricity generation in the future, wind is a clean, renewable, and low-cost option.
4. Wind turbines save space
Another factor in the wind power pros and cons equation is the fact that it is space efficient and fits well with other land uses. Wind turbines can be spread across fields with enough space between them to be productive. Because they are elevated off the ground the space below them is open to other uses, like farming.
5. Wind power generation promotes domestic economic growth
Harnessing wind power is economically beneficial beyond wind energy being inexpensive to produce. It relies on a local resource and creates local jobs. Investment in wind power is growing. In the last 10 years, wind generation capacity has increased 30 percent. Utility-scale wind plants across 41 states have created more than 100,000 jobs in the U.S.
Disadvantages of Wind Energy
We must consider both wind energy advantages and disadvantages when weighing the benefits of this renewable energy source. Indeed, there are disadvantages to wind power.
1. Wind turbines can be dangerous to some wildlife
Wind turbines can be fatal to wildlife. Birds and bats collide with them and turbines interfere with bat sonar navigation. Certain species with low reproductive rates are more impacted, as are migratory birds, but researchers are investigating innovative ways to reduce the danger to wildlife.
2. Wind turbines can be noisy
Wind turbines create both aerodynamic noise of the blades slicing through the air and mechanical noise of the power generating machinery in them. The noise can affect wildlife but is generally not a factor unless you are standing nearby.
3. Wind power is limited by location
Wind power won’t work everywhere. You need areas where wind blows strong and steady to make the investment worthwhile. Even with ideal locations in coastal areas, hills, and open fields where the wind is especially strong, it doesn’t blow all the time. Energy generation slows or stops when the wind slows or stops, a concept known as “intermittency.”
Learn More about Wind Energy from Constellation
As you make your home more sustainable, consider the residential renewable plans available in many areas, including wind energy plans. You can compare renewable energy rates and choose the option that best fit your needs. With an appreciation of wind energy advantages and disadvantages, you can make choices that benefit the environment.