The Benefits and Limitations of Modern Wind Turbines

We’ve recently had articles on a ground source heat pump and on other alternative energy sources. Now here’s a guest post of the benefits of wind power.

Wind energy is the process where wind turbines are converting kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy, which again is converted into electricity by a generator. Many say this is one of the promising green ways of getting energy and will play a big part in the future.

Benefits of Wind Power

  • Wind power is renewable energy, meaning it is always going to be around. Unlike fossil fuels, which are a non-renewable resource, wind energy is more directly related to the energy from the sun and therefore permanent.
  • Wind energy does not produce any form of pollution.
  • There’s enough wind to produce some electricity most places on earth. This doesn’t mean it’s financially profitable or that we have the technology to use our wind resources everywhere, but at least the potential is there.
  • There are simple DIY kits out there allowing households to produce their own energy when there’s wind, and stay on the grid when not. Much like solar panels, the possibility for selling excess power to the grid is also an option in many areas. Imagine a world where huge areas are self-provided with electricity.

Limitations of Wind Power

Power From the Wind: Achieving Energy Independence by Dan ChirasWhile there are many benefits there are also some limitations to wind energy. Probably the biggest one is the price. Wind energy is still young and not very compatible to the more traditional ways of producing energy. Other limitations include:

  • Predicting the wind is hard. At times when there is no wind we need something else to cover up for the production halt. This could be solved by making sure the power is generated from the wind when there actually is wind and otherwise use other forms of energy, such as solar power.
  • The damage done on wind turbines by storms can be pricey. Wind turbines also need to be maintained regularly.
  • Some people don’t like the how wind turbines look and feel that their presence ruins otherwise beautiful natural scenery. Not everyone agrees with this. You could actually argue the opposite. Wind turbines are a proof of our technology and ability to come together and make incredible complicated things work. However, for some this is definitely a disadvantage.
  • Wind turbines are noisy. There’s no doubt about it. This can of course be solved by not placing them near people.

The technology still has a long way to go. The wind power pros and cons list will improve with time. Prices get lower and efficiency gets better. In the last couple of years the big offshore parks are starting to be a reality, solving many of the above problems and proving a more stable flow of energy. It’s important that governments look to the future and help wind energy projects with incentives to make them more compatible.

It is interesting to draw parallels to similar technologies and especially to look at geothermal energy pros and cons. At the moment solar power is probably the most reliable technology for home use, but in the future? Who knows. We may all have solar panels and wind turbines on our rooves.