With recent global campaigns against the use of fossil fuels, it is no surprise that countries are now investing in alternative renewable sources of energy. A global investment of $241.6 billion in 2016, 23% less than in 2015 brought 138.5 gigawatts of new renewable power capacity.
Up to 8% more power was generated when compared to 127.5 gigawatts in 2015. The significant rise in global electricity produced by renewable sources averts an estimated 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide discharges. This is according to a report released by the United Nations Environment.
What is Wind Energy?
One of the renewable sources of energy that is becoming popular in most countries is wind energy, which is produced when the wind is used to turn turbines. The kinetic energy generated is converted to mechanical power.
A generator then converts the mechanical energy into electricity. The biggest challenge for any potential stakeholder is choosing whether to invest in wind power or not. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy
What Are The Advantages Of Wind Energy?
1. The Wind is as a result of atmospheric pressure differences. When a pressure difference exists, air moves from a higher pressure area to a lower pressure area. The Wind is naturally occurring and free, unlike fossil fuels which can only be mined and sold by their owners.
2. Wind energy does not leave a carbon footprint and is free of any pollutants. Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide upon combustion. The increase in the atmospheric quantities of global warming has contributed to global warming.
Carbon dioxide has a greenhouse effect- it limits the loss of heat from the earth into the outer atmosphere hence the increase in global temperatures. The changing rain patterns and the melting glaciers are just but a few of the impacts of global warming that everyone can identify with.
3. The land below wind turbines can be utilized for agriculture. With an average height of over 300 feet, farmers can plant crops below the turbines. Optimized land use is possible with wind energy.
This, however, cannot be applied to fossil fuels where excavation, drilling, access roads for transportation and pipeline connection is required. The damaged soil left after mining cannot support plant growth. Other hazards such as mudslides and landslides are also associated with these mining activities.
4. Wind turbines are available in various sizes. Depending on the amount of land available and energy required, individuals and businesses can choose turbines that suit their needs.
5. Wind energy will reduce importation of petroleum products into a country. It will significantly reduce the amount of national income spent on the purchase of fossil fuels and focus on growing a country’s energy industry.
6. An investment in wind energy creates job opportunities. According to the 2017 US Energy and Employment Report, more than 101,000 people were employed in 2016. The Wind Vision Report further supports this statement by stating that the wind can hire more than 600,000 individuals in manufacturing, installation services and maintenance by 2050.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Wind Energy?
1. The strength and availability of wind are not constant making it inefficient for areas with low wind speeds. The amount of energy generated by turbines depends on the availability and strength of the wind. It means that sometimes, no electricity will be generated.
2. Wind turbines are noisy. They produce mechanical and aerodynamic noise which is annoying and disturbing especially at night. According to GE reports, a turbine will generate up to 43 decibels at a distance of 300 meters from home. When many turbines are put together, 43 decibels are magnified, making communities around wind energy farms uncomfortable.
3. The turbines are harmful to wildlife. Though some people may argue that wind energy causes less environmental pollution, birds have been killed when flying into rotating blades.
4. Wind farms are located in the countryside, far from the cities where most of the electricity is required. It is because the rural areas offer large tracts of land that are necessary for the establishment of wind farms.
The universal economy will require over $89 trillion in infrastructure investments in cities, energy and land use organizations. This according to the World Bank. With this rising industrialization trend in mind, all countries should look into renewable sources of energy, such as wind power. It will ensure that the environment is protected and there is a constant supply of energy for all.