Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The pros and cons of using wind energy

Wind energy capacity is growing rapidly all over the world. The countries want more renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, and wind is certainly one of the most interesting renewable energy options to achieve this goal. Like any other energy source wind also has its good and bad sides so let us take a closer look at them.

The pros of using wind energy:

-         long history of use (5000 years ago wind energy was used for purposes like propel sailboats and sailing ships)

-         one of the fastest growing renewable energy sectors in the world making it a good business opportunity for investors

-         environmentally friendly source of energy that doesn't contribute to climate change and air pollution (it has been calculated that a single 1-MW wind turbine can save around 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide in one year.)

-         renewable energy source, meaning it is being constantly replenished and cannot be exhausted like fossil fuels can

-         excellent potential (the total potential of wind energy on land and near-shore is somewhere around 72 TW that is over five times more than the world's current energy use in all forms)

-         wind energy is free source of energy meaning that anyone can harness it since nobody owns the wind

-         wind turbines are becoming cheaper and more efficient

-         wind turbines do not need much maintenance

-         having your own wind turbine means you won't have to deal with possible power cuts

-         more wind energy instead of fossil fuels improves our energy security and makes us more independent to volatile oil price market

-         rapidly growing wind energy industry creates many new well paid jobs

Wind energy has been used since ancient times to propel sailboats

The cons of using wind energy:

-         the availability of wind (certain areas have frequent, powerful winds which makes harnessing wind energy efficient while at some places winds are not powerful enough nor frequent enough to create enough electricity)

-         relatively high installation costs, in some areas over $10,000

-         noise pollution (large wind turbines are said to emit disruptive noise)

-         visual pollution ( sometimes it is very difficult to incorporate wind turbines into certain environment and this can affect the aesthetics of landscape)

-         if large wind turbines are not equipped with radars they can kill birds

-         the intermittency of wind energy (since wind energy is not available all the time it is in need of adequate energy storage solution that would compensate for periods when wind doesn't blow)

-         wind energy still needs incentives to remain cost-competitive with fossil fuels