Wind energy is one of the most commonly used sources of renewable energy today, but what are the wind energy pros and cons when it comes to sustainability?
What are the Pros and Cons of Wind Energy?
We love wind energy because it’s so good for the planet, but we know not everyone is so well informed. So, let’s explore some of these frequently asked questions about wind energy.
How is wind energy used today?
Wind energy is harnessed through the use of wind farms. But what is a wind farm exactly? And how does wind energy work? Wind farms convert the wind’s naturally existing kinetic energy to electrical energy, using the aerodynamic force from the rotor blades. That, in turn, is what we use to power everything in our lives that requires electricity.
Solar and wind energy for home are two of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy, and they are intrinsically linked. Interestingly, wind energy actually wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for solar energy. Wind exists due to the sun unevenly heating the surface of the Earth. As hot air rises, cooler air moves in to fill the void. So it makes sense that, as long as the sun continues to shine, the wind will continue to blow.
Inspire is a renewable energy company and we’re passionate about using wind energy because it’s everywhere, and new wind farms are being built all the time. All our Inspire members are helping to displace more non-renewable energy sources with clean energy from wind farms and other sources of 100% clean and renewable energy – learn how to switch to renewable energy today!
Where is wind energy most used?
So, which states produce the most wind energy? Surprisingly, the nation’s wind energy leader is Texas, which is also known as the oil state. There are over 40 wind farms in Texas, with a total combined rated capacity of 17,911 MW. One MW is equal to one Million Watts. To understand how much wind energy is produced in Texas, keep in mind that only one MW of traditional coal based energy can power up to 650 average homes!
In 2019, wind accounted for a massive 22% of the total electricity generated in this state. Texas leads the US when it comes to wind energy employment, with an incredible 25,000 people employed in the wind industry. Following Texas, the top 4 US states for wind energy production are Iowa, California, Oklahoma and Illinois.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be in those states to benefit from their wind farms. Wind farms all around the country are generating clean energy for the national power grid, and so when you join us and switch to renewable energy, you help more of the nation’s power come from these renewable energy sources.
What are some of the pros of wind energy?
So, what are wind energy pros and cons? Let’s start with the pros. Not only is wind energy better for the environment, but it’s also safer, cheaper, and saves billions of gallons of water every single year! Here’s why we love the benefits of wind energy:
- It actually saves water. Unlike thermal power plants, wind turbines do not require any water to produce electricity or cool the power generating equipment. Older power plants, such as natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, use a significantly large amount of water to cool their plants. If this is done continually, it may result in a future water shortage. The more areas that rely on wind energy rather than its less sustainable counterparts, the less water is being used on running these less environmentally friendly power plants.
- It is far less harmful to our health. The use of wind energy helps to cut significant amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), both of which are air pollutants known for creating smog and can even trigger asthma attacks. If we reduce these pollutants we’ll help to reduce rates of respiratory issues, thus increasing the overall health of people. The reductions in air pollution saved a huge amount in public health savings- savings to the tune of $9.4 billion were made in 2018 alone.
- It is renewable. There are countless advantages to using wind energy, the main advantage being its renewability. Wind energy doesn’t pollute the earth, directly or indirectly, with nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide or sulfur dioxide. It doesn’t cause smog or acid rain, and there will always be an unlimited supply of wind, which can be harnessed for energy.
- It is a clean source of energy. Wind energy is not only renewable but also clean; as an energy source, it is far more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels, which has had and continues to have an extremely damaging effect on the environment.
- It has a much stronger environmental record than other energy sources. In 2019, the electricity that was generated from wind turbines avoided an estimated 42 million cars’ worth of CO2 emissions.
What are some of the cons of wind energy?
While there are a lot of pros to wind energy, there is one reason why wind energy may not be the only source of energy we use just yet:
- Wind energy can be unpredictable. Some areas just don’t get a lot of wind. If an entire town is completely reliant on one specific wind farm, and that town has a month that isn’t particularly windy, the town’s energy will suffer. This inconsistency of production may be cause to opt for another, more steady source of energy, that may not be as environmentally friendly.
What are some of the advantages of wind turbines?
So, now we know the pros and cons of wind energy, what are the pros and cons of the wind turbines that generate it for us? Here are some of the benefits of wind turbines:
- They are very space-efficient. Because wind turbines are so tall, they work upwards, taking up very little space. Of course, wind farms themselves tend to vary in size, from a few turbines to hundreds of turbines over the space of a large area. Their size also depends on whether they are offshore or onshore. In general, however, wind turbines take up minimal space, leaving the rest of these areas for farming and wildlife to continue as normal.
- Wind farms create employment, bringing up overall quality of life. This then leads to more money being poured into the local economy, which can then result in a better quality of life in areas that wind farms are constructed.
- They don’t cost a lot to run, which can indirectly save further energy. An initial investment is required before a wind farm can get up and running, which can be costly. However, once a wind turbine has been manufactured and installed, the maintenance costs and efforts required are minimal. If a site rarely needs a technician to visit and maintain the turbine, it is also saving on regular fuel costs that would have been incurred by that technician traveling to the site.
What are some of the disadvantages of wind turbines?
What about the disadvantages?
- There’s a lot of debate about the aesthetics of wind farms. Some people actually enjoy the look of wind turbines in a field, but local residents can be concerned that a wind farm is spoiling the appearance of the local landscape. Of course, most wind turbines are located in remote areas with very few people nearby, so this is not a regular occurrence. It’s also not a problem when it comes to offshore wind farms, for obvious reasons!
- Wind farms can be an expensive investment. They are still an investment, of course, but the manufacturing and installation of wind turbines requires a lot of money initially, both in commercial and residential applications.
It could be argued that none of these negative aspects of wind energy really outweigh the positive elements. When it comes to the sheer amount of water, money and wasted energy a wind farm saves, it’s clear that wind is a good source of energy overall. If you want to help the environment, you should be as enthusiastic about wind power as us and our members. (To join us in our fight for a better world, click here.)
How do wind turbines affect the environment? Are windmills harmful?
Windmills are entirely harmless for the most part. The only concern that has been consistently voiced about wind turbines is that of harming local nature and wildlife.
The National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC) did find that bird and bat deaths due to collisions with wind turbines occurred and that air pressure changes caused by the large spinning turbines resulted in habitat disruption.
Despite this, the NWCC concluded that overall impact was low and there was no significant threat to any species or their general population. So, this has not proved to be a common problem; because wind turbines are usually spaced so far apart, most of the land can still be used as normal.
When it comes to the environment, there aren’t any harmful effects – especially not in contrast to the sourcing of non-renewable sources that can destroy habitats and ecosystems in just a few days.
Is wind energy cost-effective?
It certainly is! It’s an almost-free source of energy to harness and an efficient source of energy for the home. Energy sources like fossil fuels are inclined to fluctuate in price, depending on what is available and how much it costs worldwide. Wind energy, however, is a lot steadier cost-wise and can be offered at fixed prices over much longer periods of time. In the long run, wind energy will help energy prices come down. Our members that have switched to renewable energy are helping future-proof our energy grid and prevent price hikes by utility companies.
How is wind energy sustainable?
Wind energy guarantees longevity as wind itself will never run out or even deplete. And the best part is that the average life of a wind turbine is between 20 and 25 years making it an efficient piece of equipment to build and generate energy over a long period of time. Unlike most conventional sources of energy, wind power cuts pollution, saves the use of billions of gallons of water a year, and reduces carbon emissions.
All of these factors combined make wind energy an excellent candidate for the cleanest and most environmentally friendly way of sourcing energy, as well as being truly sustainable. As mentioned before, wind energy does not require any water to cultivate; therefore is essentially drought-proof. This factor is especially pertinent in areas of the country that are prone to droughts, such as Nevada, Idaho, and California. It is more important now than ever to have an awareness of the effects of each energy source and make a change accordingly.
Wind turbines create power without the use of fossil fuels, which is an absolutely vital part of what makes wind energy so suitable for the environment. With the increasing number of countries switching to wind energy instead, this energy will not be used, and the annual damage done will, ideally, slowly reduce.
If you’re ready to make a change and protect the planet with clean, renewable energy, join us by switching to renewable energy today!