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How Does Wind Energy Effect the Environment?

Updated on April 13, 2015

Introduction

Science fair projects on wind energy can explore a number of different concepts. One concept that can be very interesting to explore in a wind energy project is environmental impact. This concept can be approached from the positive, how wind energy benefits the environment, from the negative, how wind energy damages or degrades the environment, or from a multivariate perspective, both how wind energy damages and preserves the environment.

Positive Impacts

Wind turbine science fair projects can be used to identify the positive impacts of wind energy. One presumed positive impact, for example, is that it reduces air pollution. The statistics related to this presumption is that a 1-MW wind turbine can displace 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. To test this statistic you would need to measure how much carbon dioxide is produced by a wind turbine, if any, and then compare the emission rates of the wind turbine to that of another energy production device.

Sound Pollution

While it has been presented that wind energy does not produce air pollution, like fossil fuel generators or nuclear power plants, it is not without its environmental impacts. One proposed drawback is sound pollution. As the blades of the wind turbine are turned they produce a loud whirl, hum or droning sound. While not extremely hazardous when a single wind turbine is isolated, the sound is magnified when hundreds of wind turbines are grouped together in a wind farm. Doctors think that there is a possibility that this sound pollution could be detrimental to wildlife and to human life as well.

Wind & Solar Science Fair Kit for Middle School Students

Ideas for Wind Environmental Wind Energy Science Fair Projects

The environmental angle is a good one to use when developing a wind energy science fair project. The first step is to determine what environmental concept or problem you want to work with and how it relates to wind energy. For example, you may want to explore the environmental concept of noise/sound pollution. To develop a project from this angle you would need to determine how sound pollution is produced, how it can be measured and how it impacts life. This information will help you to come up with a prediction about wind energy’s impact on its environment. For example, you can develop a hypothesis that predicts that the sound pollution produced by X number of wind turbines will be enough to kill species X, Y and Z or enough to force species X, Y and Z to leave the area.

Land Use

Another issue of concern is the amount of land that is needed to support a wind farm. These devices are tall and need a large patch of ground in order to offer them the clearance that they need in order to operate safely and to catch the wind. This means that in order to set up a wind farm the land has to be naturally clear of tall trees and other obstacles, or forests and greenery need to be cleared. When forests and greenery is cleared it destroys habitats for wildlife and produces a landscape that is not very attractive.

The amount of land that is needed for a wind farm is another concern. Unlike a traditional power plant, wind farms take acres of land in order to produce enough energy to support a community. This is an issue that would need to be resolved if wind energy were to be used in more widespread applications.

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