9 advantages and 9 disadvantages of wind energy

The advantages and disadvantages of wind power refer to the benefits and disadvantages of using wind as a source of energy production for human beings. Wind energy receives this name because it comes from the wind, i it works based on the laws of aerodynamics: Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electrical energy.

Among the applications that humans have given to the wind as a source of energy we have:

  • navigation,
  • food processing food,
  • alter water currents and irrigation.
Wind power Advantages Disadvantages
For society
  • Applicable at low or large scale
  • Economic interest
  • Technological development
  • Low maintenance
  • Requires storage systems
  • Annoying noises
  • Effects on human health
  • Aesthetic disturbance
  • Technological challenges
For the environment
  • Alternative energy source
  • Renewable energy source
  • Non polluting
  • Environmental impact
  • Susceptible to damage
For the planet
  • Accessible to remote locations
  • Remote facilities
  • Unpredictability of the weather
  • Huge tracts of land

Advantages of wind energy

Below are some of the benefits and advantages of using wind as an energy generator.

1. Alternative energy source

Along with solar energy and hydroelectricity, wind is one of the alternative energy sources to the use of fossil fuels. In fact, the wind has been used by humans for more than 5000 years as an energy source to produce jobs. Although the interest in wind energy seems to be very recent, in 1890 electricity was already being generated from the wind.

2. Renewable energy source

Wind is available everywhere on Earth throughout the year. It is not far-fetched to say that the wind currents of the world are inexhaustible.

3. Applicable at low and large scale

With the technological advances in the construction of wind turbines and generators, it is currently possible to use wind energy in large cities or on individual initiative.

4. Economic interest

Wind power plant Mexico advantages and disadvantages
Southeast Wind Power Plant I, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico (Credit Presidency of the Mexican Republic).

The cost of generating wind energy has been falling for three decades, and more and more countries are interested in investing in the construction of wind farms. In 2010 the global wind power generation capacity was 197 thousand megawatts, while for 2018 it rose to 597 thousand megawatts, an increase of 300%.

Wind is the cheapest form of alternative energy, compared to solar and hydroelectric power. Wind farms can start generating power with a few turbines, which can be increased over time.

5. Accessible to remote locations

Wind energy can be used to generate electricity in:

  • isolated villages in developing countries;
  • to telecommunications towers, i
  • homes outside the public electricity network, in fields and forests.

6. Non-polluting energy

Wind turbines do not produce greenhouse gases or other toxic gases to operate. By exchanging chemical energy from fossil fuels for wind energy, we reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

7. Technological development

The potential of wind energy increased considerably thanks to the associated technological development. Today’s turbines are much more efficient than those of two decades ago.

8. Facilities away from populated centers

The best places to install wind farms are generally in places away from populated centers, as these are the places where the most wind occurs:

  • On the tops of hills and mountains;
  • On the sea coasts.

9. Low maintenance

Wind turbines are low maintenance and labor after installation is minimal.

See also Difference between sustainable and sustainable development.

Disadvantages of wind energy

1. Environmental impact

Large wind turbines kill birds, bats and insects. A 2016 study of 64 wind farms in Canada estimated that more than 47,000 bats die per year from collisions with the blades.

Especially, the problem is aggravated when the turbines are located in migratory corridors, as happens in areas of Spain.

2. Unpredictability of the climate

Like solar energy, wind also depends on the forces of nature. This varies in intensity, speed and direction.

3. Huge tracts of land

Wind farms need large areas of land: the turbines cannot be placed close to each other, as the wind is modified as it passes through them. Fortunately, the space under the turbines can be used for agriculture, unlike solar panel centers.

4. Systems can suffer damage

Towers and turbines can be damaged in extreme weather conditions such as tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms.

5. Requires storage systems

Wind energy is produced when the wind blows; thus, it is necessary to store the energy in batteries to be able to have electricity when there is no wind. Batteries are expensive and with toxic materials, which represent an ecological problem.

At the rate of energy consumption of modern civilization, it would not be possible to depend 100% on wind energy for the supply of electricity.

6. Annoying noises

The movement of the turbine blades causes sounds that can be uncomfortable for residents in the vicinity of the towers. Additionally, turbines can produce low-frequency sounds (20-200 hertz) with an exposure of 20 dB. This means that the noise is practically inaudible, unless you are very close to the tower.

7. Effects on human health

Exposure to wind turbines could be linked to sleep problems, tinnitus and vertigo. However, aversion to turbines in the vicinity may lead certain individuals to psychosomatic problems rather than biological problems directly.

8. Unpleasant to the eye

Some people find the sight of large wind towers on the horizon disturbing and aesthetically displeasing.

9. Technological challenges

A turbine must be installed above 9 meters high, ideally as high as possible, and separated from obstructions (trees, buildings, houses, other towers) by about 60 meters. This presents a problem in the installation of heavy turbines, which can cause a lot of damage if they fall.

You may be interested in knowing:

References

DeGunther, R. Alternative Energy for Dummies. Wiley Pub. 2009

Schmidt, JH, Klokker, M. Health Effects Related to Wind Turbine Noise Exposure: A systematic review. Plos One 2014; 9: e114183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114183

Zimmerling, JR, Francis, CM Bat mortality from wind turbines in Canada. The J. of Wildlife Management 2016: https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21128

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