"Within the renewables space, we are focused on solar and wind energy."

Ajay Piramal, Businessman

Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

the advantages and problems of wind energy

Wind energy is the use of wind to generate power using mechanical devices like wind turbines in order to turn electric generators.

 

Wind power is considered to be one of the most promising green technologies.

 

Although wind energy has many advantages, it also has significant downsides. In this article, the pros and cons of wind energy are examined in detail.

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Pros of Wind Energy

  1. Renewable and sustainable energy source
  2. Wind power as green energy
  3. Potential to produce enormous amounts of energy
  4. Rapid growth over the past decades
  5. Low amounts of waste related to wind power
  6. Crop farmers could switch to wind energy production
  7. Windmills could be placed amongst farmland
  8. Wind energy as one of the most promising green technologies
  9. Cost-efficient compared to other green energies
  10. Source of tax income for local municipalities
  11. Wind energy conserves water
  12. No or just low levels of greenhouse gas emissions
  13. No long transportation distances of fossil fuels necessary
  14. No mining for resources is needed to produce wind energy
  15. Local job creation
  16. Important component in the energy transition process

Renewable and sustainable energy source

One advantage of wind energy is that it is a sustainable and fully renewable energy source. There had been wind on our planet long before the first human had been born and there will be wind on our planet even after humanity had been wiped out.

 

Thus, wind energy will always be there and can be used for energy production purposes. However, the degree to which wind energy is usable in an efficient manner depends on the geographic conditions of an area.

 

Wind power as green energy

Wind energy can also be considered to be an entirely green energy source since it does not rely on fossil fuels for energy production. Apart from the initial construction of windmills, there are not much more resources needed for the production of wind power. Therefore, compared to energy production with coal or other fossil fuels, wind energy can be considered to be much greener and eco-friendly.

 

Potential to produce enormous amounts of energy

The technology related to wind power had been progressed quite fast over the past decade. Therefore, at our current point in time, quite large amounts of energy can be produced through wind power. One single wind turbine can supply up to 1000 households with energy.

 

Thus, large wind parks have the potential to supply whole cities with enough energy. Since technology will improve even further, it is possible that wind energy could be made even more efficient and the amounts of energy that could be produced from wind turbines may be even higher in the future.

 

Rapid growth over the past decades

Wind energy experienced a quite rapid growth over the past years. It has become one of the most promising green energy sources for our future energy mix. If this rate of growth regarding the expansion of wind energy continues, it could become the leading green energy in the future and may be even more important than other green energies like solar power.

 

Low amounts of waste related to wind power

Wind power can also be considered to be a quite clean energy source. Apart from the initial construction of wind turbines and the related power distribution devices, there is not much waste related to wind energy production. Since waste is a significant environmental problem, the low amounts of waste that are implied by wind energy generation are another advantage of this green power source.

 

Crop farmers could switch to wind energy production

The expansion and popularity of wind energy does not only benefit our environment, but may also be economically interesting to farmers who currently plant crops on their fields but only make insufficient amounts of money from it. Instead of planting crops, those farmers may choose to give up food production and engage in the wind energy industry.

 

Through government subsidies, the large initial costs of the construction of windmills could be covered and landowners may be able to earn more money by wind electricity production compared to harvesting crops in the long run.

 

Windmills could be placed amongst farmland

Cattle farmers may be able to install windmills on their farmland and raise cattle at the same time. This may be a good financial opportunity for those farmers to make an additional income from wind power. Therefore, apart from the positive environmental effects, wind power could also significantly improve the financial conditions of farmers.

 

Wind energy as one of the most promising green technologies

There are a few green technologies that are more promising than others when it comes to prospects regarding the future energy mix. Wind energy is definitely one of those promising green technologies which may play a big role for our future energy supply. Since the technological progress in the wind energy sector has been quite fast over the past years, it is now possible to produce wind energy in a quite effective manner.

Cost-efficient compared to other green energies

Compared to other green technologies, the production of energy through wind turbines can be regarded as quite cost-efficient. This is due to the fact that plenty of money had been invested in research regarding wind energy in the past. Thus, wind power may have kind of a head start compared to other green technologies.

 

However, this doesn’t automatically mean that wind power will win the raise against other green technologies. There are some technologies like fuel cells that may be even more promising, yet they still need plenty of research in order to be able to produce large amounts of energy.

 

Source of tax income for local municipalities

Local municipalities, especially in rather poor areas, may greatly benefit from the construction of wind parks since their tax revenue may increase significantly. With higher tax revenues, they may be able to improve the local infrastructure and to improve the overall living conditions of the local population.

 

Wind energy conserves water

Compared to other alternative energies, wind energy is also known to conserve water much better. For instance, for nuclear power production, around 500 times more water has to be used compared to wind energy for the production of the same amount of energy.

 

Therefore, since water will become a quite scarce resource in the future due to global warming, wind energy also has an edge over other energy sources when it comes to the preservation of our water.

 

No or just low levels of greenhouse gas emissions

In contrast to the production of energy with the use of fossil fuels, wind energy will not emit large amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. For sure, the construction of wind turbines and the related power infrastructure will imply a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions. However, once the construction process had been finished, there are virtually not greenhouse gases related to wind energy at all.

 

No long transportation distances of fossil fuels necessary

In the power production process with coal or other fossil fuels, the fuels have to be transported over quite long distances to power plants in order to be able to generate electricity.

 

However, with wind energy, those transportation processes are not necessary at all since windmills only need sufficient amounts of wind in order to produce energy.

 

Therefore, also the greenhouse gas emissions related to the transportation of raw materials like coal can be avoided by using wind power instead of conventional power from fossil fuels.

 

No mining for resources is needed to produce wind energy

In order to get the resources that are needed in the energy production process related to conventional energies, large areas of land have to be processed for mining purposes. Contrary to that, wind energy does not require the mining for coal or other fossil resources since it only needs wind in order to work properly.

 

Local job creation

Wind energy may also be an important industry branch, especially in regions with high levels of unemployment. The construction of wind parks may lead to the creation of a high number of jobs, which may improve the average income and the living conditions in the respective areas significantly.

 

Important component in the energy transition process

Wind energy can be considered to be one of the most promising green energies and will play a major role in the transition from fossil to renewable energy. Therefore, it seems logical to push research related to wind power even further to make it even more efficient to ensure our green energy supply for the future.

Cons of Wind Energy

  1. Wind power is weather dependent
  2. Not suitable for some geographic regions
  3. Swings and shortages in wind energy supply
  4. Destruction of habitats
  5. Birds may be killed by wind turbines
  6. Noise pollution
  7. Initial construction costs are quite high
  8. Construction of windmills may take a long time
  9. Windmills may be vulnerable to natural disasters
  10. Visual pollution
  11. Maintenance costs can be significant

Wind power is weather dependent

One problem of wind energy is that it is heavily dependent on outside conditions. For instance, if there is no wind, the production of wind power will not be possible. Therefore, in order to ensure the supply with sufficient energy, there could be some other complementary renewable energy source like solar power to provide energy also in times when wind energy production will not be possible.

 

Not suitable for some geographic regions

In areas where there is a quite low level of wind all year long, wind energy may not be the way to go when it comes to future energy prospects. In those areas, there may be many better green energy choices. Thus, depending on the geographic and climatic conditions, wind power may not be suitable for some regions.

 

Swings and shortages in wind energy supply

Wind energy also implies significant swings in the supply of energy. For instance, every year, there will be times where there are periods with almost no wind at all. If those periods of insufficient wind become too long, the wind energy supply will be threatened. Thus, it may be a good idea not to fully rely on wind energy as single energy source but to rather see it as complementary energy source in the future energy mix.

 

Destruction of habitats

Since large areas of land have to be used for the construction of wind parks, the use of wind energy also often implies the destruction of habitats for a variety of animals and plants. However, it should also be noted that in contrast to fossil energy sources like coal, no mining has to be done for wind energy, which in turn saves some areas of land from destruction.

 

Therefore, even though wind parks need large areas of land, it is unclear whether the used space is more or less compared to fossil energy production when the whole energy production chain is taken into account.

 

Birds may be killed by wind turbines

Wind turbines may also pose a significant danger to the local birds. Scientists estimate that thousands or even millions of birds die each year due to contacts with wind turbines. Thus, especially for endangered birds, this may lead to the extinction of certain bird species if wind parks are constructed in the respective areas.

 

Noise pollution

Even though not known by the general public, wind turbines also imply significant noise pollution, especially if you live pretty close to those windmills. Wind turbines may produce sounds as loud as 40 to 60 decibel, which can be quite disturbing, especially if those windmills are right next to your house and those sounds might impact your sleep in an adverse manner.

Initial construction costs are quite high

Even though the unit price for energy produced by wind power may be rather low, the initial construction costs of wind turbines is quite high.

 

This may pose significant problems for the expansion of wind energy, since private persons may not be able to afford the high upfront costs.

 

Thus, wind energy is mostly produced by public institutions or investors who have large sums of money available to invest upfront in order to buy and install those windmills.

 

Construction of windmills may take a long time

Apart from the high construction costs of wind parks, the construction of wind turbines will also take plenty of time. It might even take several years until a single wind park could be used for energy production.

 

Thus, this may be another pain point for investors who have to invest large amounts of money and will have to wait many years until they see any return from their projects, which may scare off institutional investors, since they may seek for alternative investment opportunities instead.

 

Windmills may be vulnerable to natural disasters

Windmills may also be quite vulnerable to natural disasters. For instance, even though windmills need wind in order to produce energy, too strong winds like hurricanes may destroy whole wind parks.

 

Moreover, wind turbines may also be quite vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters.

 

Thus, relying on wind energy as a single source of energy supply seems not to be a good idea, especially in regions which are frequently hit by those adverse natural events.

 

Visual pollution

Many people also do not like the appearance of windmills at all. In natural environments where people want to relax and have nice views, wind turbines may disturb those people.

 

This kind of visual pollution can be quite strong, depending on the number of wind turbines and also on the mental state of the individual person.

 

Especially if you live close to a windmill and see it every time from your living room, chances are that you will significantly suffer from visual pollution due to those windmills.

 

Maintenance costs can be significant

Especially in quite remote areas, the maintenance costs of wind turbines and wind parks in general may be quite high. The maintenance costs also vary significantly and depend on the geographic and climatic conditions.

 

Thus, in the planning process of wind parks, decision makers not only have to take into account the initial construction costs, but also the maintenance costs related to the production of wind energy in order to be able to make profound decisions regarding the profitability of a wind park in a specific region.

Wind Energy Pros & Cons - Summary List

Wind Energy Pros

Sustainable & renewable

Green energy

Enormous energy production potential

Rapid growth

Low amounts of waste

Opportunity for crop farmers

Windmills can be placed among farmland

One of the most promising green energies

Cost-efficient

Tax income for local municipalities

Conservation of water

Low levels of greenhouse gas emissions

No long transportation distances

No mining for resources needed

Job creation

Important for the energy transition process

Wind Power Cons

Weather-dependent

Not suitable for all geographic regions

Swings in energy supply

Habitat destruction

Birds may be killed by turbines

Noise pollution

High construction costs

Construction of windmills takes a long time

Vulnerable to natural disasters

Terroristic attacks

Visual pollution

High maintenance costs


Conclusion

Wind energy is one of the most promising alternative energy sources. It will play a major role in the energy transition process and may be one of the most important green energies for our future energy supply. Even though wind power has many upsides, there are also some issues related to wind energy.

 

Depending on the geographic region, it should be determined on an individual basis if wind energy is the way to go or if other alternative energies would be more suitable in order to meet the local energy demand.

Sources

About the author

 

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

 

As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

 

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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