No doubt, wind energy is the most developing type of renewable energy available today. The United States, in particular, is focusing on exploiting this safe and clean source of energy to power as many houses a possible and recorded achievement shows that this is achievable. It is possible that you’ve seen the wind turbines around and you are still concerned about the safety, advantages and probable disadvantages of this energy source. A better understanding of wind energy is provided in this article.
The need for another energy source is the rationale behind the development of renewable energy in general and wind energy in particular. For clarification, wind energy is the process of generating mechanical energy from wind using wind turbines. This energy is later converted into electricity. It should also be noted wind energy is helpful for other things. For example, it can be used to pump water.
The ability for wind energy to power many houses and the vast potential in this field bring about unending development. However, just like other sources of energy, wind energy also comes with few disadvantages. The benefits and disadvantages of wind energy are considered below.
Advantages of Wind Energy
- Wind energy is renewable and clean
The most impressive advantage of wind energy is that it is a form of renewable energy, which means we never run out of supply. When compared to other sources of energy like oil and gas, wind energy has the potential to last for a longer time and ensure undisrupted supply. This is because the power is generated from the atmosphere and can also be renewed.
Furthermore, wind energy is also a clean form of energy and is, therefore, free from carbon emissions polluting the air. Installation of wind turbines does not involve any form of carbon emission. Also, generating electricity from wind does not include the destruction of land and water as present in the oil and gas exploration system.
- Require low cost for operation and maintenance
Though the installation of wind turbines requires a lot of work and is very expensive, the cost of operation is reasonably low when considered. Unlike the oil and gas exploration system that demands a lot of money for exploration and refining, energy production through wind comes freely from the wind and costs low for maintenance.
- Wind turbines do not occupy too much space
Wind turbines are usually installed on existing farmland or unused land, which can also be used for other purposes. Though more turbines require a large land area, the main objective of wind turbines installation is to get a location where the turbines can generate more power and not interact with the land directly. This means the turbines do not damage the land or make it useless. This makes it possible to use the land for farming and other related purposes.
- Wind turbines reduce the demand for oil
The United States is one of the highest producers and consumers of oil given its population and increased demand for oil in almost every sector. The oil embargo of 1973 affected the US in particular due to the large consumption of fuel. During this period, living conditions were drastically affected as gas stations reduced the amount of fuel sold per day and even closed on Sundays. The US recorded massive economic declination and currency devaluation due to the refusal of the oil-producing countries to sell to the United States. This shows that there is a need to look for another source of energy that will reduce the overreliance on oil and prevent the 1973 experience. Wind energy is generated within the country; hence, there is no foreign supply required
- Create job opportunity
The job opportunities that exist within renewable energy are massive. The installment and operation of wind energy require several skills and workers, which directly provide numerous job positions for both high school and college graduates. There are also attractive salaries for workers due to heavy investment going into development regularly.
Disadvantages of Wind Energy
- Wind energy is periodical
Wind energy is generated through the wind, though this means the source of energy is free, it also means that this energy depends extensively on the speed of the wind. Weather instead of demand is a determining factor regarding how much energy can be generated by wind turbines. If the wind is low, the turbines will not spin fast enough to generate more power.
- Wind energy can cause visual and noise pollution
Wind turbines are built high up to ensure that they can capture more wind as required for production. However, this installation can disrupt the aesthetic of the scenic landscape. Also, though wind energy is free of air pollution and is considered environmentally friendly, this energy source produces a lot of noise during operation. When the wind turbines rotate, it generates a lot of noise and can disturb the nearby environment.
- Wind energy cannot fully substitute oil
Though there is a lot of potentials to tap in the wind energy sector, the amount of power generated from this source is still questionable. Despite years of development, as of 2020, the United States recorded merely 8.4% of total electricity generated from wind energy. This means there is a whopping 91.6% of houses to be covered. It also shows that wind energy may not be enough to guarantee an uninterrupted electricity supply in the country and thus cannot be a major power source in the United States.
When we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a particular sector, the obvious question is whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. If the answer is yes, there is practically no delay. All sources of power come with drawbacks and advantages. However, it is apparent that wind energy can serve the United States better despite its benefits. Particular reference needs to be made to the fact that environmental safety, which is of paramount importance in the US, is one of the advantages of wind energy.