Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy


  • (2/11/16) bicweb

The pressing issue of global warming has made it necessary for us to look at other renewable sources of energy. Some of the alternatives that we have, include, solar, water, biomass, and wind energy. This Buzzle excerpt helps you understand the good and the bad side of using wind energy as an alternative source of energy. Take a look.

All renewable sources of energy are dependent on the heat generated by sunrays. Wind, also, is a phenomenon that occurs due to the heating up of earth’s atmosphere. The sunlight heats up different parts of the atmosphere, and due to this, hot air moves upwards, while the cool air settles on the lower levels. This exchange of position between the hot and cool air results into wind. The energy of the wind can be harnessed with the help of a wind power plant.

Wind is a renewable source of energy and doesn’t produce toxic by-products, as is the case with fossil fuels. It is one of the most cost-efficient forms of energy, and is touted to become one of the major sources of energy for our future generations. Despite its many advantages, wind energy has its own limitations, with the major concerns centered around its intermittent nature. As there is no way of controlling the direction of air, wind energy remains an unreliable source of energy. Environmentalists, who vouch for greener sources of energy, agree to the fact that setting up wind turbines creates soil erosion and degradation of wildlife habitat. As with all sources of energy, wind energy has its advantages and disadvantages, which have been mentioned in the following sections.

Advantages

1. Wind energy is a renewable form of energy. Unlike coal and wood, it is a certainty that this energy will never cease to exist. If greater efforts are put to harness this form of energy, there will be a reduction in using the non-renewable sources, which will augur well for our future generations.

2. Global warming is one of the biggest challenges for mankind today. If we go by the reports that are published on this issue, there is an urgent need to envisage and implement strong policies, which will reduce the emission of pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere. Wind energy is a great alternative for our energy needs, as it doesn’t cause pollution on a large scale, unlike fossil fuels.

3. Large tracts of land have to be cleared to install a power station, however, for a wind power plant, only a few square meters of base area is required. After the installation of the turbine, the area can still be used for farming, or other agricultural activities.

4. One of the biggest advantages wind energy has, over other renewable sources of energy is that, it is cost-effective. There are no costs involved in buying, and transporting fuel to the wind turbine, as is the case with power plants working on coal. Also, it is believed that with advances in technology, wind energy will become cheaper, thereby reducing the amount of capital that countries have to spend to meet their energy needs.

5. Developing countries, which lack the required infrastructure to build a power plant, can greatly benefit from this energy. The cost of installing a wind turbine is lesser than that of a coal power plant, and countries with a dearth of funding, can use this cost-effective option to fulfill their energy needs.

6. Proponents of wind energy are of the opinion that investing in this energy will be beneficial for the economy, as it will create several job opportunities, and new avenues of employment for people. Considering the current unemployment rates around the world, this energy can help in alleviating this issue to some extent.

Disadvantages

1. The biggest issue concerning wind energy is its unreliability. There can be periods when adequate electricity is produced on account of strong winds, and there can also be periods of lull, where no electricity can be produced for days, owing to the absence of wind. Successful attempts have been made to store wind energy, and use it in conjunction with other forms of energy, however, for this energy to become a major source in the near future, these efforts need to be quick and extensive.

2. As discussed before, due to the intermittent nature of wind energy, it needs to be stored, or used as a substitute for the conventional sources of energy. However, storing it is quite expensive, and countries have to rely on fossil-fuel plants to meet their energy needs.

3. The claim that this energy will lead to creation of more jobs doesn’t find too many takers in the anti-wind energy lobby. They point out to the fact that a wind power plant needs substantial manual labor only during its construction, and once the turbines are built, it needs only a few maintenance workers.

4. There have been reports in the past about the danger that windmills pose to birds. Due to the staggering height of the windmills, birds are often at collision course with them, and a significant number of deaths have occurred due to this reason. Proponents of wind energy claim that far more deaths occur due to high-rise buildings and electricity lines, but the fact remains that windmills too, contribute to bird deaths caused due to collision.

5. Installation of windmills has faced stiff opposition from people living in nearby areas, where the wind power plants have been proposed. Factors such as the velocity of the wind and its frequency, are taken into account before selecting the place for installing a windmill, and sometimes, local residents staunchly oppose these plans. One of the prime reasons for their opposition is the fact that, windmills do cause some level of noise pollution. Also, for many conservationists, wind turbines are a sore in the eye, as they interfere with the aesthetics of a city. People also oppose windmills on the grounds that it might hit the tourism industry of their area.

These were some advantages and disadvantages of wind energy. Wind energy certainly is one of the bright hopes for our future, however, it is also important that governments around the world allocate resources to improve the existing technology. If the implementation of this energy is undertaken on a war-footing, there is every possibility that some of the challenges that we are currently facing can be overcome. Although wind energy has certain limitations, there is no reason why we should give up on this renewable and clean source of energy, and hamper the efforts to harness it to its full potential.

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