Did you know that 12.6 million people breathe the toxic air every day in the U.S. alone? The sources of this harmful air pollution 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 for 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 the 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 amongst small businesses, farms, and homes.
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, which is distributed to the end-user by power system operators or electric utilities.
3. Offshore Wind
Offshore wind is a giant wind turbine that’s 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?
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 into the wind. The wind turns the turbine blades around a rotor that directly connects 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 significant alternative to electricity is here to stay for good. However, it’s still a long way to make wind energy in use worldwide, and the huge obstacle right now is that many are not even aware of it.
Uses of Wind Energy
The following are the ways you can use wind energy:
1. Generate Electricity
It is quite apparent that 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.
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 is useful in reducing massive fuel consumption while sailing.
3. Pumping Water
Wind energy is excellent for pumping water. Wind pumps look similar to a traditional windmill. However, this wind pump, instead of milling grains, pumps water out of the ground. If used properly, this technology has the potential to 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 to 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:
- Land Sailing
- Kite Surfing
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 comes with a baggage of disappointments.
Let’s surf through them.
Advantages of Wind Energy
1. Preserves the environment
Unlike fossil fuels dependent power plants, wind turbines do not create any 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 kinetic energy of the wind 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.
5. Accessible to Remote Locations
Even in remote lands where there is no access to electricity, wind turbines can help bring usable power in these places.
As it’s easy to build turbines almost anywhere, even in 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 very tall, they require very minimal land space, unlike solar panels. This reason mostly 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. For a wind turbine to spin effectively, it requires an adequate supply of wind that’s blowing at a fast speed, which may not always be available.
As the patterns of the wind are not consistent, the turbines may not generate the same amount of energy every day. On days when there is a breeze, wind turbines can struggle, and they may not generate any electricity at all.
Additionally, wind energy also requires a suitable location with few obstacles to install the turbines. So, wind energy is not accessible everywhere in the world.
2. High Initial Cost
Although the cost of wind power is more affordable now compared to the past decades, the initial investment cost for this technology was higher than fossil-fueled generators.
Also, the installation process of the wind turbine is far more complicated than it seems.
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.
4. Creates Noise Pollution
One of the most significant disadvantages of wind energy has to be 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 to do that.
5. Not a Profitable Use of Land
Wind energy development may not always be the most profitable use of the land. Lands that are suitable for wind turbines might be more valuable to 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.
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 that we apply immediate approaches for a cleaner and better world for all of us.
Table of Contents
- Types of Wind Energy
- How Does Wind Energy Work?
- Uses of Wind Energy
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy
- Advantages of Wind Energy
- Disadvantages of Wind Energy