What are the Pros and Cons of Wind Power?
You’re probably here because you’ve been hearing a lot about wind power, also known as wind energy, one of the fastest-growing sustainable and renewable energies.
The history of wind energy dates as far back as 5000 BC; when people used the wind to move boats along the river Nile. Ever since, the use of wind has widely spread across the world.
The Chinese used wind-powered water pumps, it was also used to grind grains, and now we're exploring its use in generating electricity. In this article, we look into the pros and cons of wind power.
What is wind power?
Literally, we are talking about the power of the wind. This is quite interesting because when we consider the details: we are talking about a power that is converted to electricity. So, when you say wind power is the power of the wind, you are not totally wrong or right.
So, what is wind power? Known as wind energy, we are talking about a sustainable and renewable energy which involves the conversion of the wind’s power, the kinetic energy of the wind to electricity.
But how? Through a turbine, which first converts the wind’s kinetic energy to mechanical energy. It then converts this mechanical energy into electrical energy through a generator.
To accurately convert the wind’s power to electricity, we use a system called the wind energy system.
Let’s look at the working principle of a wind energy system:
Working principle of a simple wind energy system.
You may have a household appliance called a fan - this converts electrical energy to wind energy. A wind turbine does the opposite. The uneven heating of the earth’s atmosphere by the sun leads to a conventional movement of air - the cooler air sinks while the hot air rises. This motion causes a pressure difference which drives the air.
The moving air or wind turns the blades of the turbine that are connected to a rotor which either turns the generator directly or is connected to a shaft and a series of gears that act as a speed multiplier. The generator converts this mechanical power from the rotor to electrical power. This is how a simple wind energy system works.
Now that you’ve understood the history of wind power, what wind energy is, and the working principle of a wind energy system - which is not rocket science, I think it is high time we considered the pros and cons of wind power.
The Pros and Cons of Wind Power
Just like every other form of energy has its merits and demerits, wind power has its fair share of pros and cons. Different renewable energies work better in different parts of the world for several reasons. For wind power, we already know we need to have access to wind; lots of it to drive the turbines, and land to erect our wind energy system.
On the pros side, wind energy is a clean and renewable energy. It is a free fuel since the wind is readily available.
On the cons side, the turbines can be noisy. The entire wind energy system distorts natural landscapes because we need to erect lots of them to generate more electricity and are not aesthetically appealing.
Let's explore these pros and cons...
PROS OF WIND POWER
Wind energy is clean and renewable
As long as the sun shines, there will be wind, and as long as there is wind, then wind energy is possible. It won’t run out, unlike fossil fuels that replenish slowly.
Wind energy is a clean form of energy that produces no greenhouse gas emissions. They also do not require combusting any fossil fuels to operate.
It is a free fuel
A wind energy system runs entirely on wind. It doesn’t need any additional power to run or be maintained. Once it’s installed, it doesn’t need to be connected to any external source of power to continue operating.
Wind energy is space-efficient
Although wind farms take up a lot of land, however, an individual wind system doesn’t use a lot. This means that farming can happen on a wind farm. It allows us to kill two birds with a stone: produce electricity and food using the same piece of land.
Creation of jobs
According to a report from the Global Wind Energy Council, wind energy could create 3.3 millions jobs in the next five years. Its production, installation, maintenance, and sales are options for job opportunities.
CONS OF WIND ENERGY
Wind turbines get noisy
Because of the gigantic size of a wind turbine and its movement through the air, it generates noise because of friction. This is one reason we find them in rural areas where people tend not to live.
Distortion of scenic landscapes
To capture more winds, the wind system needs to be tall and massive. Hence, the turbines often interrupt and distort scenic landscapes.
Energy production is intermittent
Because of its sole dependence on wind, wind energy is unreliable. As its efficiency depends on the weather, it becomes really difficult to measure the amount of electricity a wind turbine will generate.
Also, on occasions where there is no wind, it becomes paramount to be connected to a different source of power.
Endangers some wildlife
Wind turbine noise poses a threat to land-based wildlife. Because of their gigantic structure, they pose threats to air-borne wildlife. They have been responsible for the death of some birds and bats.
They are in remote areas
Large turbines are in remote areas. Wind energy production happens in sites far away from the point of use. Therefore, an additional upfront cost is incurred in purchasing and installing transmission lines.
We hope you enjoyed our article 'What are the Pros and Cons of Wind Power.' Please see our blog for more wind generation posts and reviews!
I’m Martin Hurley - the friendliest and most helpful person in the wind generator field! (That’s me on an ‘early’ electric bike, way back in 2010). I write posts and reviews about wind power, green energy, wind turbine kits, wind energy tools, tech and more. Depending where you live, one day I’m sure there’ll be wind generators built into our homes, our vehicles and on every street corner - and they’ll be fantastically efficient!