Wind Power has become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world after Nuclear Energy (if you consider Nuclear to be renewable energy that is). The reason for the huge increase in wind energy has been the sharply falling costs which have roughly become equivalent to Gas fired Energy. While Solar Energy costs are still falling, they are still way above the costs of fossil fuel energy. Geothermal Energy is facing tough times and Geothermal Companies are looking to diversify into other lines of business. While Wind Power Energy has many advantages and it is seeing around 35 GW of capacity built each year, there are some disadvantages like persistently low volume noise and loss of scenery that has made its growth restrained.
Here are Pros and Cons of Wind Energy.
Pros Of Wind Energy
1) No Pollution and Global Warming Effects – Wind Turbines does not lead to pollution which is one of the biggest advantages of Wind Energy. Note there are costs associated with the equipment used to build and transport Wind Equipment but the running of Wind Energy leads to no pollution.
2) Low Costs – The Costs of Wind Energy has reached the level of Gas powered Energy and can be generated at extremely low rates of around 7-8c/KwH in favorable conditions.
3) Big Industrial Base – Wind Energy has become a mainstream source of energy and a large industrial base already exists. This allows a rapid deployment of Wind Power in most places in the world. The number of Wind Turbine Producers is increasing with a number of Asian firms entering the industry.
4) No Fuel Cost – Wind Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of renewable energy. This is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic rate every year. Electricity prices are increasingly rapidly in most parts of the world much faster than general inflation. Price shocks due to high fuel costs are a big risk with fossil fuel energy these days.
5) Offshore Advantage – The next big growth spurt in Wind Energy is coming from the offshore Wind Energy sector. Huge Wind Turbines of 5 MW and above are being built around 30-40 kms from the coasts. This has the advantage of no land usage, no noise problems and the wind is much better leading to higher load factors. The costs are currently higher but in the future are expected to come rapidly come down. USA has enough offshore wind potential to replace the whole fossil fuel electricity being consumed right now.
6) Small Wind Turbines gaining some traction – While Wind Turbines are not generally used in distributed form, it is possible to now use small wind turbines being built by a number of companies to power small establishments.
Cons Of Wind Energy
1) Low Persistent Noise – There have been a large number of complaints about the persistent level of low level noise from the whirring of the blades of a wind turbine. There have been cases reported about animals on farms getting affected by wind turbine noise.
2) Loss of Scenery – The sight of giant 200 meters tall towers has drawn objections from neighbors about wind power leading to loss of scenery and beauty. The Cape Wind Energy project off the shore of Massachusetts has been delayed by over 10 years as it has drawn serious objections from the owners of coastal homes about loss in their property values.
3) Land usage – Wind Turbines can sometimes use large amounts of land if not properly planned and built. The construction of roads to access the wind farms etc also takes up some land.
4) Intermittent Nature – Wind Power is intermittent in nature as it generates energy only when the wind blows. This problem can be solved with energy storage however this leads to additional costs.
The Pros of Wind Energy far outweighs the Cons of Wind Power leading to massive amounts of wind power capacity being installed in almost every part of the world. Wind Power already generates majority of the electricity in countries like Denmark and almost 1/5th in countries with proactive renewable energy policies such as Spain, Germany and Portugal. Wind Power has great potential in USA,China and India which are driving the growth of Wind Power in the world. South America particularly Brazil are also showing strong interests in building up wind farms in the country. The recent increase in the price of oil and the dangers of Nuclear Energy further emphasize the importance of Wind Power Energy.
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