Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Power
Environmental pollution is one of the major global concerns due to the rapid rate at which it is increasing and the irreparable and massive damage that it causes on earth. Today, a large part of the overall environmental pollution comes from the established power plants especially coal. According to Goffman (2008), the amount of pollutants that were produced by power plants in the United States in 1997 were as follows. Sulfur dioxide 70 percent, nitrogen dioxide 33 percent, carbon dioxide 34 percent, toxic metals 23 percent and particulate matter 28 percent. All these affect the environment adversely. The effects of these pollutants include cancers, miscarriages, chemical poisoning, birth defects and lung diseases among others.
As such, replacing non-renewable energy sources with renewable energy sources as a way of reducing harmful emissions as well as minimizing their effects becomes imperative. Alternatives that include wind power should be adopted. In a study conducted in England in 2002, the researcher observed that a single wind turbine with a rate of 660kW and a capacity factor of 28% prevents about 5, 300 SO2 pounds, 18000 Nox pounds and 1, 100 CO2 tons from being produced (Goffman, 2008, p.6). This study explains how energy is produced using wind turbines as well as the cons and pros of using wind power.
Wind Turbines and Functioning
A report on the United States wind energy was produced in 2010. In this report, Wilburn explains the process of producing energy using wind turbines. There are three major parts of the contemporary wind turbines. These are the tower, blades and nacelle. The blades and equipment that generate energy are held by the tower. The tower also raises them so that they can capture smoother and stronger wind currents.
The engine or the heart of a turbine is the nacelle which holds the rotor, the generator and the gearbox. All these produce energy by working together (Rensselar, 2010). The rotor appends the blades so that winds can be turned to them when it flows on the rotor. There is a connection between the main shift of the generator and the rotor. The generator is operated by the shaft and this produces electricity (Kinzel, Mulligan, & Dabiri, 2012). Here are some of the disadvantages and advantages of this energy.
According to Minneapolis Wind Industry (n.d), there are no harmful pollutants produced by wind turbines. This implies that unlike other energy sources, wind energy is clean. Additionally, wind energy is renewable. Water resources are also conserved when people use wind energy. To produce a similar amount of electricity produced using wind, it can take approximately 60 times of the required amount of water while using nuclear power and approximately 500 times amount of water while using coal (Wind Industry, n.d, p.3).
According to an article by the Need Project (2007), wind is available freely. As such, producing wind energy is economical. Wind energy is renewable and cheap. Operational costs are the only costs that are incurred while producing wind energy. Otherwise, producing wind energy is free. According to Goffman (2008), natural resources are not depleted when producing this energy. This is not the case when producing energy using oil or coal. Wind energy also does not cause side effects like the ones that are produced by oil while transporting it.
According to the European Wind Energy Association, wind power helps in the creation of more job opportunities. This association noted that every megawatt of energy produced using wind creates between 15 and 19 jobs either indirectly or directly. As such, producing and using wind energy helps in the creation of green jobs. Nevertheless, there are side effects of wind power that should be considered as well.
An article by the Wind Industry notes that the unpredictability of wind is one of the major disadvantages of this energy. Turbines require blowing wind to produce electricity. Thus, the amount of power that is produced is affected by the changes in the amount of the blowing wind. Additionally, building turbines is quit costly. The turbines also occupy a huge area to install which necessitates destruction of the natural vegetation.
Turbines are only constructed in places where strong winds blow constantly. Such places are sometimes near people residences or workplaces. This leads to the other shortcoming of the wind energy production which is the noise produced by the turbines. The noise produced by the turbines causes discomfort among the locals. This triggers resistance from the people. A study conducted by Jeffery, Horner, Aramini and Krogh (2012) indicated that the blades cause noise which cause adverse effects on the humans.
The wildlife is also affected by wind turbines especially bats and the birds that try to fly through the blades. However, studies have shown that the number of the birds that become victims of the blades is negligible especially when compared to other activities of humans that kill animals. Nevertheless, in the United States alone the number of the birds that are killed by blades amounts to thousands (Mittal, Sandhu & Jain, 2010).
The benefits that are realized when wind energy is used makes it worth supporting. Such benefits include the fact that producing it is relatively cheaper, it is renewable and clean as well as the minimal amount of environmental pollution that it causes. Additionally, it facilitates jobs’ creation.
Nevertheless, there are negative effects of wind turbines to the wildlife more so the bats as well as the birds that attempt to fly through them. Constructing wind turbines is also costly and the amount of the produced energy is dependent on the amount of the blowing wind. The noise that is produced by the turbines also causes discomfort among the local people.
Goffman, E. (2008). Capturing the Wind: Power for the 21st Century. ProQuest Discovery Guides. Retrieved from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/wind/review.pdf
Kinzel, M., Mulligan, Q., & Dabiri, J. (2012). Energy exchange in an array of vertical-axis wind turbines. Journal of Turbulence, 13(38), 1–13.
Krogh, C, Jeffery, R., Aramini, J., & Horner, B. (2012). Wind turbines can harm humans: a case study. Inter-Noise, August 2012.
Mittal, R., Sandhu, K., & Jain, D. (2010). An Overview of Some Important Issues Related to Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS). International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, 1(4), 351-363.
Need Project. (2007). Exploring Wind Energy. Retrieved from http://www.need.org/needpdf/ExploringWindStudent.pdf
Rensselar, J. (2010). The elephant in the wind turbine. Tribology & Lubrication Technology. Retrieved from http://www.gyrotechnologies.co.nz/pdfs/The%20Elephant%20in%20the%20Wind%20Turbine_06-10.pdf
Wilburn, D. (2011). Wind Energy in the United States and Materials Required for the Land-Based Wind Turbine Industry From 2010 Through 2030. Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5036. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia: 2011.
Wind Industry Minneapolis, MN. (n.d). Wind Basics: Why Wind Energy. Retrieved from http://www.windustry.org/sites/windustry.org/files/2.8%20Wind%20Basics%20PDF.pdf