Did you know that 12.6 million people breathe toxic air every day in the U.S. alone? These harmful air pollution sources are active oil and gas wells, transport, and processing facilities. Every year around 62 agricultural workers die due to electrocution in the U.S.

As much as fossil fuels are a boon to the modern world, they’re also a curse. They’re a huge factor in the convenient lifestyle that we live today but also a reason for our declining life expectancy.

Like a miracle to the bigger picture, wind energy is something else. This type of energy is a renewable energy that generates electrical power by harnessing the wind with the help of turbines or windmills.

In the age of global warming, alternative energy sources are now becoming a modern trend and a necessity.

Wind power is a free, clean, and sustainable energy source. In the past decade, the technology of wind-generated power has improved remarkably. More people are now using wind energy to reduce their carbon footprint and build a sustainable world for future generations.

Types of Wind Energy

1. Distributed Wind

Distributed wind is small-scale wind energy that uses a single wind turbine and generates power below 100 kilowatts. This type of wind energy has no connection with the grid and is very common among small businesses, farms, and homes. Home wind turbines are designed for low wind areas and therefore are flexible for these small areas.

2. Utility-Scale Wind

Utility-scale wind turbines range from 100 kilowatts to a few megawatts. These wind turbines use a power grid to generate electricity, distributed to the end-user by power system operators or electric utilities.

3. Offshore Wind

Offshore wind is a giant wind turbine fitted in several bodies of water, especially on the continental shelf. Offshore wind turbines have the potential to generate enormous power and are usually larger than land-based turbines.

How Does Wind Energy Work?

Working Mechanism of Wind Turbine
Working Mechanism of Wind Turbine | Image Credit: Linquip

Wind energy has a simple principle. The mechanism starts with a simple turbine technology. These turbines have two or three propeller-like blades that usually face the wind. The wind turns the turbine blades around a rotor directly connecting with the main shaft.

Today, wind energy is one of the most popular sources of renewable energy across the globe for its user-friendly aspect and effective results. As more people are adapting to the ‘green’ lifestyle every day, the use of wind energy has tripled over the last several decades.

This practical alternative to electricity is here to stay for good. However, it’s still a long way to make wind energy use worldwide, and the huge obstacle right now is that many are unaware of it.

Uses of Wind Energy

The following are the ways you can use wind energy:

1. Generate electricity

The most prominent use of wind energy is to generate electricity. The wind turbines help convert kinetic energy into mechanical power that we can use. In the past few years, the popularity of wind power has significantly increased all over the world. Today, due to technological advancement, the world is capable of building wind farms that can exceed the capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

2. Transportation

Surprisingly, wind energy is a part of modern-day transportation. Many shipping companies today are beginning to use wind power as an alternative for fuel. Cargo ships and fishing trawlers also use high kites that harness the power of the wind. This technology helps reduce massive fuel consumption while sailing.

3. Pumping water

Wind energy is excellent for pumping water. Wind pumps look similar to a traditional windmills. However, this wind pump pumps water out of the ground instead of milling grains. If used properly, this technology can potentially replace electric motors in the future.

4. Milling Grain

Before the industrial revolution, traditional windmills were commonly used for milling grains such as wheat, oats, rice, cornmeal, and barley. These grains helped produce bread, pasta, cereals, beer, and whiskey.

5. Wind Sports

Wind energy is an integral part of wind sports. There are plenty of innovative adventure sports that are dependent on wind energy. Some popular games associated with wind energy are:

  • Windsurfing
  • Sailing
  • Land Sailing
  • Kite Surfing
  • Kiteboarding

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy

Like the two sides of a coin, everything in the world has its pros and cons. Similarly, wind energy may sound like the best innovation, but it also has a baggage of disappointments. Let’s surf through them.

Advantages of Wind Energy

1. Preserves the environment

Unlike fossil fuel-dependent power plants, wind turbines do not create pollution. It is one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources available today.

Fossil fuels such as oil or coal emit particulate matter that causes a threat to human health and the environment. But, wind turbines do not produce harmful pollutants that can result in greenhouse gases, acid rain, or smog.

2. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Source

Wind energy is an incredibly renewable and sustainable source of energy. Unlike reserves of fossil fuels, the wind is a form of solar energy that can never run out of supply.

People can endlessly produce and use this energy across the world. So, wind energy is an excellent choice for a sustainable power supply.

3. Less Fossil Fuel Consumption

Unlike fossil fuels, wind energy is eco-friendly. Today, the concept of wind energy is taking the world by storm as people are growing more conscious of the environment.

Generating electricity from the wind’s kinetic energy reduces the dependency on non-renewable energy sources. The rise of wind energy automatically helps minimize the need to burn fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, and oil.

4. Cheap Alternative

Wind energy is one of the lowest-priced alternative energy sources accessible to the world. The wind energy is completely free, and it never runs out. So, it is the most feasible option for generating cheap electricity.

Additionally, the maintenance costs of wind turbines are relatively low. A wind turbine can last for decades without any high-cost maintenance. With these proper guidelines, you can also build your wind generator at home.

5. Accessible to Remote Locations

Even in remote lands where there is no access to electricity, wind turbines can help bring usable power to these places.

As it’s easy to build turbines almost anywhere, even on remote ranches or farms, farmers can make full use of it. Wind energy also benefits the overall economy of the small villages to remote research facilities.

6. They Take Up Less Space

Although wind turbines are tall, they require minimal land space, unlike solar panels. This reason primarily benefits many farmers, as every square foot is essential for agriculture. The wind turbines are even safe for domestic animals to graze around.

Disadvantages of Wind Energy

1. Wind Fluctuates

Although wind energy never runs out and is a sustainable energy source, it is not always reliable. A wind turbine to spin effectively requires an adequate supply of wind blowing at a fast speed, which may not always be available.

As the wind patterns are inconsistent, the turbines may not generate the same amount of energy daily. Wind turbines can struggle on days when there is a breeze, and they may not generate any electricity at all.

Wind energy also requires a suitable location with few obstacles to installing the turbines. So, wind energy is not accessible everywhere in the world.

2. High Initial Cost

Although wind power costs are more affordable now compared to the past decades, the initial investment cost for this technology was higher than for fossil-fueled generators. Also, the wind turbine installation process is far more complicated.

First, finding a suitable site to install wind turbines requires a significant amount of time and money. After locating an area, a wind turbine needs to be transported and erected on the location. This process is quite expensive and may not be affordable for everyone.

3. Poses a Threat to Wildlife

Wind turbines use sharp blades that spin with the force of the wind to generate electricity. However, these spinning blades of the turbines can kill the birds flying in the sky. Additionally, the construction of wind farms in remote areas may disturb the natural habitat of the wildlife.

Researchers have argued that structures like cellphone masts or radio towers are far more dangerous to birds and wildlife than wind turbines. Nevertheless, these turbines have been responsible for increasing the mortality rates of the birds.

Bladeless wind turbines have been invented to reduce the birds’ mortality rates. These turbines are less threatening to flying creatures than the blades.

4. Creates Noise Pollution

Wind_power_is_loud
Wind energy is loud; the sound produced by the turbine | Image source: Wind Power Engineering

One of wind energy’s most significant disadvantages is noise pollution. The noise produced by a single wind turbine is often audible from miles away. Add multiple turbines on a windy day, and the sound can get much louder.

Surprisingly, the noise created by wind turbines has ruined the lives of many homeowners. Although engineers are taking several steps to install them away from homes, it is not always possible.

5. Not a Profitable Use of Land

Wind energy development may not always be the most profitable land use. Lands suitable for wind turbines might be more valuable for other purposes than generating electricity.

Multiple wind turbines require a lot of land space. In a few cases, these lands are likely to generate more profits while investing in other things rather than constructing wind farms.

Conclusion

While there are a few cons to wind energy, it still is one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable sources of energy in the world today.

Critics may argue that the presence of wind turbine blades generates noise or visual pollution. But, this technology is an excellent alternative to calm down global warming. If we make adequate power from the wind, we can reduce our dependence on power plants that consumes non-renewable energy sources and pollute the earth.

Humans are the only creatures responsible for polluting the earth. It’s high time we apply immediate approaches for a cleaner and better world for all of us. Also, dig in more to read about wind energy facts.

If you are looking forward to following this approach and joining the better world campaign, you should definitely thumb up for wind energy. There are a finite number of wind turbine companies. Some of the American Wind Turbine Companies are listed here for you.

Nina Howell is a Rewenable Energy researcher and consultant based out of Houston, Texas Area. She earned her Master's Degree in Energy and Earth Resources from Austin Jackson School of Geosciences in 2010, and a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2008. Nina has been working in the energy sector since 2011. She worked as an Energy Supply Analyst from 2011 to 2017 in Bounce Energy and then as a Research and Energy Consultant at GE Renewable Energy from March 2017 to February 2020 . Nina is a mom of 2 beautiful children who are joy to her life. She strongly believes in eco-friendly living and is vocal about renewable energy, environmental issues, water crisis, and sustainable living.