Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy



What are the pros and the cons of wind energy?


Because climate change is a major focus of today’s world, at least in the more developed countries, there is ever-more investment being made into renewable energy.


Besides hydro-electric and solar energy, wind energy offers a great potential as a long-term solution.



In basic terms, the wind is used to spin wind turbines. The mechanical energy that is generated from this action is converted into electrical energy.


Listed below are the advantages and the disadvantages of using wind as a source of energy production.




Advantages of Wind Energy


Like solar energy, wind is among the cleanest of energy sources.


It’s renewable, it’s sustainable.


And, in some ways, besides it being renewable and sustainable, wind energy is extremely similar to solar energy.


First, it’s completely free at its source.


Second, the cost of producing energy from wind is slowly decreasing.


And third, in terms of residential use, there’s a lot of potential.



1  Operational costs are low and overall cost is decreasing

As with solar energy production, the operational costs associated with wind energy production are very low.


Obviously, there’s an initial cost of manufacturing the turbines and installation, but other than that, the operational costs are particularly low.


To highlight this fact, since 1980, the cost of wind energy production has dropped by some 80 percent.


Why so?


A lot of research has improved the wind power production economy. Plus, the demand for this type of energy persistently increases. Thus, economies of scale push prices downwards. 


It is expected that future trends of wind energy are very much to stay in line with current trends – costs will continue to drop while demand will continue to rise.



2 Wind energy production is space efficient (in comparison to solar power energy production)

At least in comparison to energy production via solar panels, wind energy production is very conservative with regards to required space for the turbines.


A single, large-sized turbine possesses the capacity for generating enough electrical power for 600 homes in the U.S.


A single turbine utilizes a fairly small amount of space.


It’s true that wind turbines must be positioned a certain distance apart. However, the land that sits between each turbine can be utilized for various alternative purposes such as farming.


On the other hand, solar power farms, while they do need a huge parcel of land, the panels consume the entire land expanse.



3 Greenhouse gas emissions are extremely low

In order to generate electrical power, we still rely too heavily on fossil fuel sources: Coal, oil, gas.


Those sources are certainly not renewable; further, these sources emit greenhouse gasses into our planet’s atmosphere.


Wind-energy production, on the other hand, while it does produce greenhouse gases, those amounts are almost completely negligible.


In fact, the only aspect of wind-energy production that emits greenhouse energy is related to manufacture and installation of the turbines.



4  A renewable and sustainable source of energy

Obviously, wind is completely renewable and it’s completely sustainable.


Wind is generated, as is solar energy, by the sun.


According to experts, the sun will last a further 5 billion years.


So, we have another 5 billion years’ worth of wind (and solar) energy available.



5  Free source of energy

After a wind turbine has been manufactured and installed, other than the cost of maintenance, which is relatively low, there are no other costs involved.



6  Wind energy for residential use has a lot of potential

There are zero reasons that wind energy would not be an excellent energy source for homeowners.


What’s more is that homeowners that rely on wind for electrical production can have net metering.


Net metering means that, for all excess power production within a month, those that use wind energy production sources for their home’s electrical supply enjoy electricity bill credits.


In other words, just as is the case with solar energy, for any excess energy production, you get paid.



7  Perfect energy for remoter locations

Where the sun can shine, the wind can blow.


In turn, what that means is that for most parts of the world, wind energy production is possible.


There’s no requirement for power grid connection. In terms of the remoter location, wind energy is ideal.






Disadvantages of Wind Energy


Of course, it’s not all plain sailing with wind energy. There are a few downsides, too. 


Wind energy production frequently loses out to solar production in terms of cost and in terms of aesthetics – who wants a huge-sized wind turbine stuck in their back yard?


Then, on top of that, there is far more investment in solar energy than in wind energy. Wealthy companies such as Tesla are investing in solar energy sources.


Energy from wind is not entirely predictable, either. Some days see no wind at all. 


There’s some noise production. On the other hand, solar production generates zero noise pollution. 



1    Wind energy production is unpredictable 

Among the main downsides to relying on energy production from wind is that it’s an unpredictable source. 


For sure, solar energy production is not entirely reliable, either. But at least it is predictable: The sun rises in the morning and falls in the evening or nighttime. 


In this sense, when relying on solar energy, it’s quite straightforward to plan for your energy storage needs. 


Anyplace that the sun shines means that wind is available. 


But, even when the sun is shining strongly, that doesn’t necessitate the wind blowing strongly, too. 


There is an advantage here over solar energy – wind does blow during the nighttime. 


Nevertheless, wind is extremely unpredictable. 



2  Tradeoff in terms of cost

The operational costs related to wind energy production are particularly low. 


However, there’s a high upfront investment. 


Wind farms are usually created based on some form of financial incentive. 


They are incentivized so that the longer-term operational costs are given every opportunity to offset costs involved in manufacture and installation. 


Nevertheless, for a single wind turbine to break even, typically, you’re looking at anything between 10 and 20 years. 



3  Appearance

While to some, the appearance of something is relatively negligible, to many, the appearance of something is a key buying factor. 


And, while some find the appearance of wind turbines to be of beauty, there are others that find wind turbine farms to be rather hideous. 


Solar panels are hardly the most gorgeous thing in the world, usually, they win out in comparison to the aesthetics of wind turbines. 



4  Noise pollution

Wind turbine farms are usually situated within rural locales. So, usually, home owners don’t hear wind turbine farms when they are operational.


But as more and more homeowners opt for wind turbine power generation, wind turbine noise pollution will begin to become an issue. 


Nevertheless, due to improvements in technology, wind turbine noise pollution is becoming less and less. 



5  Environmental impact

While the production of any kind of energy production plant has a negative impact on the environment, at least for a while, with wind energy production plant manufacture, that environmental impact persists to some extent, albeit limited. 


Birds do sometimes get caught up in the turbines. Studies have shown that the impact of this is low, but it is something of a concern to many. 






There’s little argument that the energy production industry is in need of extreme alteration over he coming few decades. 


Fossil fuels are set to run out soon enough, and, as such, there’s no alternative but to turn to renewable alternative. 


In every likelihood, just as is the case with solar energy production, there will be a call for wind energy production, too. 


The advantages of wind energy production are that the operational costs are very affordable, utilization of space is very efficient, and it will remain a free form of fuel for billions of years to come. 


There are downsides to wind energy usage, though: Investment upfront is currently high, wind is completely unpredictable, there’s a slight impact upon the environment, there’s the aesthetic argument, and there’s the matter of noise pollution, which could soon be a thing of the past. 


Nevertheless, and in spite of the disadvantages of wind energy, it’s definitely a viable energy source and will continue to be a viable source for a long time to come. 


Photo by Jem Sanchez from Pexels