Eco Insights: Alternative Energy Series Part 2 – Wind Power

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This week, we tackle the basics of wind power and what you need to know about this growing industry. As with solar power, there is a lot to consider. 

Wind Power 101

Wind power is the process of harnessing the energy generated by wind. This is done by installing wind turbines in geographically windy areas. Wind turbines are attached to generators which are powered by the movement of the wind. This electricity is then harnessed and stored for other use. 


Wind Power Pros 


  • -Once the wind turbines are up, wind power costs nothing as wind is free. The only cost is the infrastructure.
  • -Wind turbines product no air pollution or light pollution. Once installed, they have virtually zero carbon footprint.
  • -Wind power is renewable: wind isn’t going anywhere.
  • -Wind power is sustainable. There is plenty of wind available to ‘mine’ for electricity; the large supply makes it a very viable alternative electricity source.
  • -Wind turbines can be installed all over the world- wind is not country-specific.


Wind Power Cons


  • -Wind turbines are very costly; installing them is usually more than an average household can afford. Wind turbines tend to be installed more for commercial or governmental interests. This is slowly changing, as turbine costs are coming down.
  • -Due to high costs, wind turbine programmes tend to rely on government subsidies.
  • -The turbines need wind to generate electricity. As such, wind power is dependent on weather patterns and airflows. Without wind, it doesn’t work. This inconsistency can mean wind power is unpredictable.
  • -Manufacturing wind turbines is not necessarily eco-friendly. It can be, but it isn’t always. This can be worked on as stricter standards come into play.
  • -Wind turbines take up panoramic space. Not everybody likes this. Many complain that turbines ruin an otherwise attractive natural area.
  • -Wind turbines do produce noise and there are instances of complaints from turbine neighbors. This can be alleviated partially by reducing the blade rotation speed but some noise will always exist.
  • -Wind turbines are very large in size (they need to be in order to be in effective) so they require a lot of space, particularly since it is rare to only have one wind turbine. This is not very convenient for personal households.
  • -Wind power entails a land opportunity cost. Wind power requires dedicated land, land that could otherwise be used for something else.
  • -Wind turbines kill birds and bats. These animals get caught in the large blades that rotate at very high speeds. This is a controversial point- many wildlife conservation groups oppose wind power for this very reason.



 That sure is a long list of cons. There are no easy answers in the clean energy controversy. It’s tough to make green choices sometimes. In case you missed it, check out our previous post, Alternative Energy Series Part 1 – Solar Power. Join us next week for Part 3, when we look into ethanol as a biofuel. 

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