Friday, December 12, 2014

Wind energy – worth the effort or not?

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energy sectors in the world. We are talking about a clean (greenhouse gas emission-free) and renewable source of energy that is receiving plenty of attention worldwide. Today, wind energy is considered as the second fastest growing renewable energy sector, right after solar energy.

With lots of positives that people can achieve from harnessing wind energy, there are millions of homeowners all over the world who choose to install residential wind turbines to supply electricity for their home. However, is wind energy really worth the effort? This can be best answered by looking at the positives and negatives of installing wind turbines.

Wind Energy Positives

  1. Wind energy is free and renewable source of energy that is available almost everywhere and you do not have to pay to get wind because nobody owns the wind, and as long as the sun keeps shining, wind will always be there.
  2. Installing wind turbines can help you to save money on your electricity bill. Wind turbines can immediately after installation produce electricity for your home (of course, if there is enough available wind energy in your area). By installing wind turbines you can therefore achieve a significant reduction on your electricity bill. In some cases you can even earn some money if your turbines generate more electricity than your household needs by sending the excess back to the grid.
  3. Wind turbines do not produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions or any other dangerous pollutants. Unlike fossil fuels and nuclear energy wind energy is clean and has zero emissions.
  4. More wind energy helps reduce our carbon footprint – This means that by installing wind turbines we can save thousands of tons of carbon dioxide emission and thus help decrease the ever growing climate change impact.
  5. Wind energy is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels - The prices of wind turbines have decreased by more than 50 percent in the last ten years. The constant technological development and high demands are the main factors behind this decline in prices. As the demands for wind turbines keep on increasing, the price of wind energy will continue to further decline in years to come.
  6. Many countries have mandatory wind energy targets- Many countries from all over the world have set a goal to supply some percentage of their national electricity needs from wind energy by the year of 2020 or further.
  7. Wind energy industry is creating new, well paid jobs – According to some estimates there are one million wind energy jobs in China alone. When turbines are being installed, the installation alone can create hundreds of construction jobs. Once the turbines are installed they usually create tens of operation and maintenance jobs.
  8. Overall speaking, wind energy has positive environmental impact, particularly when compared with currently dominant fossil fuels - Many environmentalists still claim that wind turbines are dangerous to wildlife especially birds. However, from thousands of turbines that have been installed all over the world, there is still no concrete proof that would show that wind turbines are presenting the real danger to wildlife and environment.
  9. Tax benefits and other favorable incentives are available in many countries of the world. – U.S. and U.K., for instance, are among countries that offer favorable tax incentives for homeowners who install wind turbines.

Wind turbines do not produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions or any other dangerous pollutants (directly).

Wind Energy Negatives

  1. Wind energy is not the most reliable source of energy – It is true that wind is available everywhere but it is sadly not available at anytime. Also, the average wind turbine requires at least 10 mph of wind speed to operate normally. What this means is that in areas with low wind speeds we cannot achieve much from this renewable energy in terms of total output and efficiency without the adequate energy storage solution (the intermittency of wind energy).
  2. The question of aesthetics - Both commercial and residential wind turbines can slightly reduce aesthetic value of natural landscape, though this question is still a highly debatable one.
  3. Wind turbines are sometimes being connected with noise pollution - Wind turbines, especially the large ones, produce noise from blades movement and other moving parts. Some people feel annoyed with the noise levels coming from these turbines. However, the new, recently produced turbines have been designed to work more silently, and as the technology develops further noise pollution issue will likely no longer be connected with wind turbines.
  4. The initial investment is still relatively high, even despite the drop in prices – An average residential wind turbine can have costs of up to $5,000. The good side is however that manufacturers offer 20+ years warranty on their wind turbines so $5,000 still looks like a very good deal, particularly on the long run. The additional bonus is that the wind turbines only require low maintenance.

Both commercial and residential wind turbines can slightly reduce aesthetic value of natural landscape.
As concerns about climate change and air quality continue to mount, wind energy can provide residents and businesses with the electricity they need without the harmful emissions associated with conventional electricity generation sources, but wind power is not without controversy.

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