Wind energy pros and cons: wind farm efficiency
Climate change is happening while greenhouse gas emissions are not decreasing enough. It is clear that fossil fuels will run out in a couple of decades, so we have to focus on clean energy not just because of the sake of the planet, but also because our days with natural gas and coal-powered industry and infrastructure are numbered.
What is a wind farm?
Renewable energy can come from many sources: wind farms, solar power plants, hydro energy, tidal power, geothermal energy, or biomasses. From a small number of wind turbines to several hundred windmills, the size of wind parks (or wind power plants) can differ a lot.
The ideal location for a wind farm is mountain passes because the mountain-blocked wind has to find its way through. Also, on higher altitudes the winds blow faster, making a wind farm more effective.
How do windmills and wind turbines work?
Shortly: some events trigger wind-blowing. The sun heating the Earth, the planet’s rotation, and the irregularities of the surface are all causing wind. The wind rotates the blade-shaped propellers around the rotor, spinning the engine of the windmills, thus creating electricity.
There are two kinds of wind turbines:
- Horizontal axis turbines
- Vertical axis turbines
Horizontal axis propellers are more common: the well-known link farms are mostly built with those. But vertical axis turbines are more effective in places where the wind’s direction cannot be calculated or always changing. While horizontal axis turbines have to be installed with the wind’s direction, vertical axis turbines are omnidirectional and functioning with every type of wind.
Pros of wind energy
Let’s check the advantages of wind power first.
Cost-effective (almost free) energy production
It is not that cheap to build a wind park, but after that, costs are very low. Maintenance is inevitable, but wind turbines and engines are not likely to stop working.
After a wind power plant is built, only wind is needed to make these turbines work, so it is quite cost-effective.
It’s a technology boost
Turning wind into electricity was a huge step in research and development, and engineers continued to work on renewable energy to make these power plants even more productive. Now a wind scale of wind turbines is available: small ones, big ones, types that you can put in good use in your backyard too.
Investing in that technology helps our planet to be greener.
Clean energy solution: it’s healthier
Using only wind, greenhouse gases are not being emitted into the air, therefore wind turbines are making our lives healthier. Wind parks are good for our lungs.
Cons of wind energy
People consider wind energy as a natural resource that has only advantages, but every kind of power generation has its disadvantages too.
Endangering wildlife habitats in rural areas
Maintaining new wind power plants might endanger wildlife. Habitats can collapse while these wind parks are being built. It is because these wind farms need more place than regular power plants.
The large requested area is just the second biggest problem. The main issue is that the blades of wind turbines kill a lot of bats and birds.
Noise and visual pollution
A windmill makes a sound around 60 decibels, so it is considered to be noisy, not for us humans, but to wildlife. Visual pollution is a problem too: many people do not consider wind farms as a nice tourist attraction, but rather an ugly view.
Yearly energy production can be guessed, but cannot be calculated. Wind farms are operating with the wind, so production changes year by year. There are two scenarios:
- overproduction that cannot be stored
Conclusion: pros and cons of wind energy
Wind energy has big advantages:
- It is cost-effective
- Helps technology
- It is clean
However, it has disadvantages too:
- Endangering wildlife
- Noise and visual pollution
- Unpredictable weather