- Renewable & Alternative Energy
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
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?
Offshore Wind Turbines
"Wind Energy Does Not Benefit the Environment" Burnett, 2004
American Wind Energy Association. "10 Steps To Building A Wind Farm." Web. 21 May 2010.
"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>.