Wind energy pros and cons can be separated into renewable, low operating costs, and energy independence for wind energy pros compared to intermittent energy, large geographic footprint, and limited geographic implementation for wind energy cons.
Combating global warming has been on many people’s minds for decades. Although this remains a controversial topic for some, it is also true that some are determined to promote alternative energy sources such as wind energy. But what are the pros and cons of wind power? What is its true advantage?
When most people think about alternative energy, they tend to think of solar energy and wind energy. And it is true that they are both renewable and, because they do not generate greenhouse gasses, are clean sources of energy. The good news is that both sources of energy are fast-growing in many countries. It is a fact that using wind energy will reduce our reliance on highly polluting fossil fuels.
We need to bring sustainable energy to every corner of the globe with technologies like solar energy mini-grids, solar powered lights, and wind turbines. – Ban Ki-moon
But having said that there are also some disadvantages to wind energies. So, looking at all the pros and cons of wind energy objectively is the best way to find out what the true advantages of wind power are.
What Are The Pros of Wind Energy?
There are many advantages of wind energy. Some of them well know while some others are less so.
Wind Energy Pros:
- Does not emit greenhouse gases such as CO2
- Renewable energy source
- Allows countries to become energy independent
- A cost-effective energy source
- Small physical footprint on the ground
- Can be utilized by practically anyone anywhere
The main advantage of wind energy is that is a clean source of power. But what does that mean? It means that, unlike fossil fuels, the creation of wind energy does not create any air pollution. But not only that, producing wind energy doesn’t require any chemicals. Because wind energy can be used to reduce our reliance on coal or oil, one of its main advantages is that it can have an active effect in reducing overall pollution.
The second advantage is that using wind to generate energy is that wind is a renewable source. To put it simply, the wind is a free resource. It does not belong to anyone because it belongs to all of us. There are many places around the world where the wind blows hard. Unlike other energy sources, wind is a source that will never run out. As long as our planet continues to turn, the wind will never stop.
It is true that it is necessary to invest in wind turbines and then transport the generated energy to other regions. However, the costs are gradually lower.
“As yet, the wind is an untamed and unharnessed force; and possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made will be the taming and harnessing of it.” — Abraham Lincoln
And that brings us to the next advantage. Wind energy is a cost-effective energy source. From the point of view of a consumer, wind energy can be accessed at a relatively low cost. Why? Mainly because a single wind turbine can produce energy for several homes at the same time. But not only that, this kind of energy can be obtained for different service organizations. So, you don’t need to own your own wind turbine in order to benefit from it.
Another important advantage is that wind turbines can be installed in existing farmland. The setting up of new wind turbines can be easily installed on existing rural land. There is no need to create new space. One of the benefits of this kind of energy is that the land it requires can be used for multiple purposes at the same time, for example, agriculture and wind energy farm.
Another advantage is its potential and rapid growth. Because of all the different sizes and costs of wind turbines, currently many individuals and companies can afford to convert to wind energy.
What Are The Cons of Wind Energy?
Although its proponents would highlight its many advantages, it is true that wind energy has also some important disadvantages.
Wind Energy Cons:
- The high initial investment to build and install
- Inconsistent energy during times of low wind
- No ability in itself to store energy
- Limited geographically to areas of consistent wind
- Risk of lightning strikes and bird deaths
- Visual and noise pollution, especially in populated areas
- Ideally situated in remote locations
One of the main cons of wind energy is that wind is not a reliable source of energy. Like every other weather phenomena, the wind is not something that we can rely on. Not only are there places that are too sheltered to be windy enough, but even in windy areas, it is never windy enough for turbines to work at one-hundred percent capacity.
In fact, extremely windy conditions can be counterproductive as they can damage wind turbines. This is one of the main contradictions in creating wind energy. There is also the very real risk that turbines might be hit by lightning.
“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while others build windmills.” — Chinese proverb
Another important disadvantage is that wind turbines could cause damage and even be responsible for killing some of the wildlife in the area they are set up. As one of the main advantages to people is the ostensible lack of environmental impact of generating wind energy, this is something that environmentally minded people must be considered. Birds and other flying animals can get caught by wind turbines. The sharp fast-moving edges of wind turbines can easily damage and kill them violently. And the main issue with this is that it is impossible to avoid.
Wind turbines also have the potential to be damaging to other animals and, even, people. If a sharp blade were to fall from a turbine, it could cause serious damage.
It is true that wind turbines do not produce any air pollution but they create visual and noise pollution. Many people would object to the way wind turbines look and the negative visual impact they create, particularly, in the countryside. Also, wind turbines are noisy. Often this is not an issue as wind farms are located in remote rural locations. But that is not always the case. So their potential for noise pollution needs to be taken into account, as most people would not be happy living nearby a wind turbine, let alone several of them.
Another important con is that wind turbines can only be installed in specific areas which very often happen to be remote from where most people live. Although there are ways to transport wind energy they do require an extra expense. And this takes us to the final disadvantage. Wind turbines are expensive to install and maintain. So this kind of energy source requires large initial investments that not everyone can afford.
So these are the pros and cons of wind energy. No energy source is perfect and, wind energy is, of course, no exception to this.