The Future of Wind Energy, Windmill Turbines, and Wind Farms: Beneficial or not?

Wind Turbines on Hills

Wind Turbines in a Prairie

Wind Energy is not the Best Solution for our Future Electricity Needs

On the surface, traditionally, wind power is hailed as an environmentally friendly, zero emissions, and a clean energy source, yet wind farms are not the best solution to satisfy our future electricity needs. Windmill turbines are costly to build and maintain in good condition. They require placement in special locations and disrupt wildlife that depends on the area for survival. They demand power grid changes that will be costly to carry out. Finally, entire wind farms are costly and the power that a single windmill produces is not up to par with the costs that it takes to make it. Wind power is not the best solution to satisfy our future electricity needs.

A wind turbine consists of three basic parts: the tower,the nacelle, and the rotor blades. The tower of a typical American-made turbine is approximately 80 feet tall and weighs about 19,000 pounds. The manufacturing process releases CO2 in the air, which contradicts that the wind turbines are completely environmentally friendly because they are praised to have “zero-emissions”. In addition, transportation costs after the manufacturing as well as roads that need to be built to install the windmill turbines also add to CO2 levels. Wind turbines require a lot of maintenance, which furthermore adds to pollution levels even though they are a source of renewable energy.

In addition, for a wind turbine or wind farm to be built, several factors must be met, such as: location, and wind speed. A wind turbine will not be built anywhere where a wind speed might drop under 15mph. This severely limits locations to three major places: off the coast of the ocean, the prairie, mountains and hill tops. But with these beneficial locations for renewable energy and for the windmill turbines, come consequences for the environment.

In the oceans, most wind turbine farms are placed where most of the world’s aquatic life thrives, which could cause severe disruptions to the ecosystems. Electric transmission cables can damage ecosystems as they travel underwater to transfer the energy. Furthermore,birds that depend on the areas as feeding grounds will have to relocate, or risk being killed by the blades which can end up rotating up to 180 mph.

On the prairie, one animal most at risk is the Prairie (a specialist) Chicken, for which Reservation groups are already fighting to protect. Another disturbance to the prairie is erosion because the hard packed soil is disturbed when spots are dug to set wind turbines. Also, building wind turbines on prairies means building roads to get to them.

On mountain tops and hilly areas a major threat exists to birds and bats. Numerous birds and bats are found dead around the base of the turbines which means they are getting hit and caught in the blades.The hilly areas are beneficial because it is very windy and thus a perfect place for a wind turbine, but many birds migrate to the mountain tops to nest.In Pennsylvania, there has been a 1/3 reduction in the number of eagles that used to migrate to the Alleghany Ridge. Since wind turbines have been placed on these hills the eagles are forced to travel further to find another ridge to rest on. The problem is, more of these ridges are being considered for the construction of wind turbines, and this poses a threat as to how far the eagles will now have to travel to find a safe location to settle down.

The power grid will have to undergo several changes if it is to sustain the extra electricity that future wind turbines will generate. First,more connections will have to be created between power lines out in the country, and the power lines that are in the city. Next, the line miles will have to expand over a greater area to reach all turbines. And lastly, the current power grid works with a “timing” generator which calculates how much power it will release in the next hour. With the wind turbines in place electric companies will need to program this generator to release more energy. Lastly, power lines need to be updated with wires that can conduct more electricity, in order to sustain the more frequent releases of energy from the generator.

Wind turbines come in all shapes and sizes, and this determines the cost, but on average the cost remains high for any kind of wind turbine because of the raw materials that are needed to produce them. On average, wind power development costs around $1 - $2.6 million per megawatt. This makes the manufacturing process very expensive. If somebody wanted to own a small wind farm of around 26 wind mills, the cost would go well up to $20 million dollars,so this makes wind energy a rather expensive process even with joint ownership or federal incentives. There are economic drawbacks to building wind farms. The cost of machinery, preparation, and installation, exceed costs of fossil fuel systems.

Parts of a Wind Turbine

Conclusion

At first glance, wind power is praised as an environmentally friendly, zero emissions,and a clean energy source, yet wind farms and windmill turbines are not the best source of renewable energy and are not the best resolution to suit our future electricity needs. Windmill turbines are costly to build and maintain in good condition. They require placement in special locations and upset wildlife that depends on the area for survival. They demand power grid changes that will be costly to carry out. Finally, entire wind farms are costly and the power that a single windmill produces is not up to par with the costs that it takes to make it. Wind power is not the best solution for renewable energy to satisfy our future electricity needs.

Wind Energy Poll

What do you think? Is wind energy a good solution for the future?

  • Yes
  • No
  • It's hard to weigh out the benefits and drawbacks, so maybe it is, maybe it's not
See results without voting

Offshore Wind Turbines

Works Cited


"Wind Energy Does Not Benefit the Environment" Burnett, 2004

American Wind Energy Association. "10 Steps To Building A Wind Farm." Web. 21 May 2010.

<http://www.awea.org/pubs/factsheets/10stwf_fs.pdf>.

"Wind Turbine: How Products Are Made." ENotes - Literature Study Guides, Lesson Plans, and

More. Web. 21 May 2010. <http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/wind-turbine>.

"Effects of Ocean Wind Farms on Ocean Life: Beneficial or Not?" Find Health, Education,

Science & Technology Articles, Reviews, How-To and Tech Tips At Bright Hub - Apply

To Be A Writer Today! Web. 22 May 2010. <http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/63585.aspx>.

"NREL: Grid Can Handle Large Solar and Wind Increase ·." Environmental Leader · Green

Business, Sustainable Business, and Green Strategy News for Corporate Sustainability Executives. Web. 21 May 2010. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/05/21/nrel-grid-can-handle-large-solar-and-wind increase/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign = Feed : +EnvironmentalLeader+ (Environmental+Leader)

"Wind Power." Web. 21 May 2010. <http://cr.middlebury.edu/es/altenergylife/windpower.htm>.

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Comments 16 comments

Winford Mummert 3 years ago

[quote]8192 characters left.[/quote]

Thanks a whole lot, Ample postings!

You actually mentioned that very well..

Seriously lots of amazing info!


Londonlady profile image

Londonlady 4 years ago Author

Oh, undeniably! If they didn't it would be much like the light-bulb Thomas Edison invented being the only thing available to make light on the market today. They are bound to evolve and change over the years as we develop new ways of making them more efficient.


Lena 4 years ago

So, will the windmills change over the years?


Londonlady profile image

Londonlady 4 years ago Author

@person: I am not exactly sure what you mean by "wind power" in general, but wind turbines are considered a form of "wind power" or wind energy. The terms are synonymous.


person 4 years ago

what about advantages of wind power?


pinksta 5 years ago

lol

windmills r kewl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 5 years ago from Cape Cod

On Cape Cod we are getting ready to put a huge wind farm in Nantucket Sound (part of the Atlantic Ocean directly off the South Side of the Cape). I know there are problems with these wind farms but I hate our being dependent on oil. Thanks for the hub.


RamKiran 5 years ago

Our lives are heavily dependent on Energy. Wind energy is the one of the cleanest source. building roads, CO2 emissions while manufacturing equipment, Transportation of equipment, ecological imbalance, under water submarines cables etc are of great concern, then we need to go back to caves. even for that life we need to burn some wood to cook meat that too will release CO2.


loua profile image

loua 5 years ago from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet

This is quite a timely topic and it has gotten a lot of misrepresentation from those who do not want it to gain a foot hold... There are many out right lies surrounding most all the stated faults of wind power... It is safe to say wind mills have far less drawbacks than the conventional means now employed... The fact is it is a viable energy resource in that it is a proven means for generating electricity number one (it had been forgotten that the mid west of the united states used wind mills for decades before the nuclear power industry deceived the people into giving up their private resource machines for a cheaper nuclear energy power only find out they lied about the bargain)...

Great Hub


LOLOL 5 years ago

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


CHRIS57 5 years ago

I enjoy your hub.

Yes - windmills are environment friendly. Completely forget discussions on CO2 balance when comparing windmills to coal fuelled plants or gas turbines.

There is another issue with windmills.

Windmills are not base load compatibel. Power output is very much depending on wind conditions. That is their true heel of Archillis.

Europe is heavily investing into offshore windfarming. The theoretical power output is gigantic, aiming to reach the equivalent of some 150 nuclear power plants in the next 2 decades.

But,last year (2010) gave 2 or 3 incidents of negative pricing for electricity at the electric power exchange in Leipzig, Germany. What had happened?

The onshore installed windmill power output suddenly (withing 30 min. to 2 hours) jumped up to peak output levels. That was the equivalent of some 3 to 4 base load nuclear power plants. Base load power plants could not shut down fast enough and the web could not take the excess power. Result: Electric power was given away not only for free, but the consumers were payed for it. That is negative pricing.

My conclusion: By regulation now all windmills and especially offshore windfarms are forced to shut down or reduce power output if the web can´t handle it. That creates a completely different business model for investors. Dividends and payback will not look so bright in the future.

The rest is done by market forces. I am very confident that will happen. No business case, no investment, no hundrets of Gigawatt installed offshore windfarms.

I am afraid the best days of the windmill industry are over, at least in Europe.

So lets cover China, South America, the US with windfarms, they are in need and Americans have lots of airconditionings to puff off some extra electricity.


Londonlady profile image

Londonlady 5 years ago Author

Ooo, I REALLY like the above comment! I couldn't agree more! It's always hard to find the solutions, and more people DO just criticize instead of helping. Right now, I'm personally just trying to learn. We won't go anywhere without knowledge.


Winder 5 years ago

Then what is the best solution for the future?

It is always easy to criticize but hard to give solutions.

Before criticizing, we should learn why so many people are studying to solve problems and why they are doing it? Is everyone else in the world less smarter than you? Or rest of the people in the world are not looking for other sources?


romper20 profile image

romper20 6 years ago from California

very nice, many of the points you hit perfectly...

Romper :)


i scribble 6 years ago

This sounds like good info that we need to know to make good decisions about energy investments for the future. We don't need to waste money and time going down the wrong path. I'm wondering, what are your sources for this hub?

Thanks for taking the time to research and write on a topic that really matters.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Interesting hub. I think there are areas in the world that have constant wind and this might be good for those areas but it is not suitable for most areas. Good hub.

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