Using wind energy has been around for centuries. Wind energy was used to mill corn and to pump water. What are some the uses, advantages and disadvantages of using wind energy?
The development of the internal combustion engine and electrical grids made the windmill obsolete by the 1900s. Wind energy works by a kind of variation of solar power. That is, the energy of the sun heats up the atmosphere and this causes the wind to blow. As warm air rises cooler air moves in to replace the rising air, and that movement of air is what we call wind.
Windmills that were designed to generate electricity were popular in Denmark at the end of the 19th century. Two or three rotor blades were linked to the shaft of a generator and the wind turned the blades.
There are a number of benefits of renewable wind energy over the likes of fossil fuels in powering the world. These include:
• Wind is a positively vast and inexhaustible natural resource.
• Most of the costs are just the initial costs to build a wind system. Minor costs are maintenance and operational costs.
• Wind power helps reduce the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal.
• Wind power reduces climate change. Once a wind farm is erected there are no greenhouse gas emissions.
• Wind is free.
• Electric power from wind is cheaper than power from gas and nuclear plants.
Renewable wind energy has great potential. A number of scientists have already estimated that half of our electricity needs in the United States could actually be met by wind power. At the moment wind power supplies less than 1% of all electrical power in the US.
Wind farms flourish in places where the wind is the strongest, such as in North Dakota and California. There is also interest in placing wind farms offshore because winds blow more consistently offshore due to the uneven heating between water and land. Because wind farms take up large areas of land sometimes wind farms are put on land that is used for farming as well.
In order for renewable wind power to develop to its full potential there needs to be an incentive that encourages its growth, such as tax incentives. State incentives have encouraged small wind systems in some jurisdictions.
Advantages of wind energy
Unlike electricity that is generated by fossil fuels such as coal and oil, wind energy does not generate any pollution or green house gases. Wind power is often said to be one of the best sources of natural energy other than solar energy. There are a number of advantages to using wind energy because wind is a free, vast, and renewable resource. A renewable resource is a resource that is continually replenished i.e. the wind is going to keep blowing as long as Earth has an atmosphere, so we don’t have to worry about running out of wind in the next 50 years. The same can’t be said for fossil fuels.
Like other alternative forms of energy the biggest cost involved with wind energy is construction of the wind system. There will be maintenance costs involved, but this will be very similar to the maintenance costs involved with other forms of electric generation.
Another of the real advantages of wind energy is that once the wind turbines are built, wind energy does not cause any pollution. In contrast the continual burning of fossil fuels causes big problems for the environment. This includes smog, acid rain and global warming. The release of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming is the biggest issue.
The fact that fossil fuel resources are stretching thin and the burning of fossil fuels causes damage to the environment caused scientists to look for other alternatives.Wind energy is a clean, renewable alternative to the continued burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity.
Disadvantages of wind energy
The biggest disadvantage of wind energy is the noise. Wind farms create noise because there is not just one wind turbine in a field but hundreds or even thousands. Hundreds of wind turbines make a huge amount of noise. Commercial wind turbines make so much noise that they are often compared to the noise that a jet aircraft makes. With wind energy you may get rid of environmental pollution but you trade off for another pollution – noise pollution. It’s not uncommon for people to protest wind farms because of the noise.
Another of the other major disadvantages of wind energy is the fact that wind can never be predicted – one day you’ll have lots of wind blowing, and other days there will be no wind at all. It is difficult to know what the weather will be like from day to day. If wind energy were the only source of power available people would go without power when the winds are calm.
It is expensive to set up wind power technology in the beginning stage. You have to get government consent, land consent and you have to find land area large enough to construct the wind farm. It is often hard to find open spaces that are close to where people live.
In my opinion the advantages of using wind energy as a part of the plan to convert to renewable energy sources far outweigh the disadvantages. Tell me your opinion in the comments section below.