Like solar energy, wind energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the world, with the United States aiming to produce 20 percent of its electricity by wind power by 2030. There is no doubt from the fact that wind energy is going to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas in the coming decade, but to which extent can only be speculated in.
It is a renewable and clean source of energy that doesn’t generate any greenhouse gases.
Wind doesn’t cost anything, and therefore operational costs are close to zero once a turbine starts running. Research efforts in the field of technology are going on to address the challenges to make wind power cheaper and viable alternative for individuals and businesses to generate power. On the other hand, many governments offer tax incentives to create growth for the wind energy sector.
The fuel in the earth will be exhausted in a thousand or more years, and its mineral wealth, but man will find substitutes for these in the winds, the waves, the sun’s heat, and so forth.
~ John Burroughs
If you are looking to get started with wind energy for your home, there are a lot of things that you need to consider. In this article, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of investing in wind energy for your home and/or business.
Learn more about the 35 facts about wind energy.
Various Pros of Wind Energy
1. Wind Energy is a Clean Source of Power
The production of wind energy is “clean.” Unlike using coal or oil, creating energy from the wind doesn’t pollute the air or require any destructive chemicals. As a result, wind energy lessens our reliance on fossil fuels from outside nations as well, which boosts our national economy and offers a variety of other benefits as well.
2. Renewable Source
The wind is free. In the event that you live in a geological area that gets a lot of wind, it is ready and waiting. As a renewable asset, wind can never be drained like other regular, non-renewable assets.
The expense of delivering wind energy has dropped fundamentally lately, and as it becomes more popular with the general population, it will just continue to be cheaper. You will recover the expense of obtaining and introducing your wind turbine over time.
Winds are caused by rotation of the earth, heating of the atmosphere by the sun, and earth’s surface irregularities. We can harness wind energy and use it to generate power as long as the sun shines and the wind blows.
3. Wind Energy has Low Operating Costs
The wind farms or individual turbines can be expensive to install. However, once it is installed and running, operating costs are relatively low; fuel (wind) is free, and the turbines don’t require too much maintenance over the course of their life.
Wind turbines can give energy to numerous homes. You don’t actually have to possess a wind turbine, keeping in mind the end goal to harvest the profits; you can buy your power from a service organization that offers wind energy for a specific area. That means you don’t even necessarily have to invest any cash in order to reap the benefits of wind energy for your home or business.
5. Prices are Decreasing
Prices have decreased by over 80% since 1980. Thanks to technological advancements and increased demand, prices are expected to keep decreasing in the foreseeable future.
6. Extra Savings for Land Owners
Landholders who rent area to wind homesteads can make a considerable amount of additional cash, and wind energy likewise makes new employments in this developing engineering field.
Government organizations will also pay you if they can install wind turbines on your land. Also, in some cases, the electric company may wind up owing to you.
If you produce more power than you require from wind power, it may go into the general electric matrix, which in turn will make you some extra cash. A win all around!
7. Use of Modern Technology
Wind turbines are considered by some to be incredibly attractive. The newest models don’t look like the clunky, rustic windmills of old times. Instead, they are white, slick, and modern looking. That way, you don’t have to worry about them becoming an eyesore on your land.
The latest advances in technology have transformed preliminary wind turbine designs into extremely efficient energy harvesters. Turbines are available in a wide range of sizes for farms, factories, and large private residences, extending the market with many different types of businesses and by individuals for use at home on larger plots and other plots of land.
Portable wind turbines are also available and can power small devices on the go. The latest models will generate even more electricity, require less maintenance, and run more quietly and safely.
8. Wind Power Has Seen Rapid Growth
Wind energy has seen enormous growth in the last decade. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cumulative wind power capacity increased by an average of 30% per year. Wind energy accounts for about 2.5% of the total worldwide electricity production.
Wind turbines are available in various sizes, which means a vast range of people and businesses can take advantage of it to produce power for their own use or sell it to the utility to reap some profits.
9. Huge Market Potential
The potential for wind power is huge. Several independent research teams have reached the same conclusions, and that is the worldwide potential of wind power is more than 400 TW (terawatts). Harnessing wind energy can be done almost anywhere.
10. Great Potential for Residential Uses
The wind energy is especially appealing to the residential market. People are able to generate their own electricity with wind power in very much the same manner as people do with the best solar panels (photovoltaic).
Wind is an independent energy source, and it’s great for powering homes. In addition to this, wind-powered homeowners also gain access to something called net metering.Net metering basically provides credit to electricity bills for any excess power generated in a given month.
Homeowners actually get paid for extra energy production, and that can even protect them from blackouts as well as fluctuating energy prices.
11. Wind Farms can be Built on Existing Farms
Wind turbines are incredibly space-efficient and can be installed on existing farms or agricultural land in rural areas where it can be a source of earning for the farmers as wind plant owners make payments to farmers for the use of their land for electricity generation. It doesn’t occupy much space, and farmers can continue to work on the land.
At present, less than 1.5% of contiguous U.S. land area is used by wind power plants. However, if all the plains and cattle land made available on the interior of the country, there’s a lot of opportunity for expansion if landowners and government land managers are up for it.
12. Conserves and Keeps Water Clean
Turbines produce no particulate emissions that contribute to mercury contamination in our lakes and streams. Wind energy also conserves water resources. For producing the same amount of electricity, nuclear power take about 600 times more water than wind, and coal takes about 500 times more water than wind.
13. The Wind Energy Industry Creates Jobs
The wind energy industry has boomed since wind turbines became commercially viable. As a result of this, the industry has created jobs all over the world. Jobs now exist for the manufacturing, installation, maintenance of wind turbines, and there are even jobs in wind energy consulting.
According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy industry employed over 10 million people worldwide in 2017. Of these jobs, 1.15 million were in the wind power industry. China leads the way in providing over 500,000 of these jobs. Germany is in second place with around 150,000 jobs, and the United States is a close third with around 100,000 wind energy jobs.
Various Cons of Wind Energy
1. Wind Reliability
Wind doesn’t generally blow reliably, and turbines usually function at about 30% capacity or so. In the event that the weather is not going to support you, you may wind up without power (or at any rate you’ll need to depend on the electric company to take care of you during those times). Serious storms or high winds may cause harm to your wind turbine, particularly when they are struck by lightning.
2. Wind Turbines Could Be Threat to Wildlife
The edges of wind turbines can actually be unsafe for wildlife, especially birds and other flying creatures that may be in the area. There isn’t really a way to prevent this, but it’s definitely something that you want to make sure that you are aware of being possible consequences that may come up as a result of it.
3. Wind Turbines Could Lead to Noise and Visual Pollution
Wind turbines can be a total and complete pain to install and deal with on a regular basis. Wind turbines make a sound that can be between 50 and 60 decibels, and if you have to put it next to your home. Some individuals believe that wind turbines are ugly, so your neighbors may also complain about them.
While most people like how wind turbines look, few people like them but with NIMBY(“not in my backyard”) attitude, but for the rest, wind turbines remain unattractive as they have a concern that it may tarnish the beauty of landscapes.
4. Are Expensive to Set Up
The manufacturing and installation of wind turbines require heavy upfront investments both in commercial and residential applications. Wind systems can involve the transportation of large and heavy equipment, causing a large temporarily disturbed area near the turbines. Erosion is another potential environmental problem that can stem from construction projects.
Wind turbines and other supplies needed to make wind energy could be extremely costly in advance, and relying upon where you live, it might be hard to find someone to sell them to you and somebody who can maintain it over time.
5. Cost Trade-off
The cost-competitiveness of wind power is highly debatable. Both utility-scale wind farms and small residential wind turbines typically rely heavily on financial incentives. To give wind power a fair chance in the fierce competition against already well-established energy sources such as fossil fuels and coal, financial incentives are crucial.
Wind turbines make an excellent alternative in some situations for a homeowner who wants to become an energy producer, but it would require wind turbines about 10 kilowatts and $40,000 to $70,000 to become a net electricity producer. Investments like this typically break even after 10 to 20 years, which is a pretty long time.
6. Safety of People at Risk
Severe storms and high winds can cause damage to the blades of the wind turbines. The malfunctioned blade can be a safety hazard to the people working nearby. It may fall on them, causing life term physical disability or even death in certain cases.
7. Wind Power Can Be Harnessed at Certain Locations Only
Wind energy can only be harnessed at certain locations where the speed of the wind is high. Since they are mostly set up in remote areas, transmission lines have to be built to bring the power to the residential homes in the city, which requires extra investment to set up the infrastructure.
8. Shadow Flicker
Shadow flicker occurs when the blades of the rotor cast a shadow as they turn. Research has shown the worst-case conditions would affect, by way of light alteration, neighboring residents a total of 100 minutes per year, and only 20 minutes per year under normal circumstances. Designers of wind farms avoid placing turbines in locations where shadow flicker would be a problem for any significant amount of time.
9. Effect on the Environment
It obliges a ton of open area to set up wind turbines and chopping down trees kind of eliminates the whole green thing that you’re trying to do with them. Places that may be good for it may be difficult to get to and use. Consistency with city codes and mandates may be irksome when you are attempting to install a wind turbine. Sometimes, height confinements may keep you from installing one on your property as well.
Uses of Wind Energy
The wind is a unique resource because we interact with it every minute. It has been harnessed since ancient times, and it is the most eco-friendly source of energy around. It has a wide range of uses. You may be familiar with a few, but others may totally catch you by surprise. Enough said, let’s drive through the most innovative uses of wind energy:
1. Wind energy can be used to power vehicles
In the course of your research, you must have run across wind-powered vehicles. If you haven’t, then know that there are vehicles powered chiefly by the wind. A typical example is the widely documented wind-powered car that completed a 3100-mile journey through Australia.
Although it wasn’t totally powered by wind, it’s a perfect example of how vehicles can be moved by alternative sources of energy. Precisely, the car used a combination of batteries, wind, and kite. For the entire journey, the car used an estimated $10 to $15 of energy, which underlines the cost-effective nature of wind energy.
2. Excellent source of power
Electricity is the main source of energy worldwide. Due to the abundance of electricity, almost every device produced is powered by electricity. The traditional way of electricity generation is the use of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal. These fossil fuels emit greenhouse gasses and other harmful substances that pollute the environment.
Wind energy provides a reprieve from the dangerous gasses emitted to the atmosphere. The wind energy is captured using strategically located wind turbines. This can be carried out on a massive scale, for example, wind turbines installed on wind farms. It can be a small scale, for instance, wind turbines installed by individuals to produce energy for home use.
3. Sailing Cargo ships
A typical example of the use of wind energy is the cargo ships developed by Cargill, Inc., an American corporation that is committed to making the world grow by innovating cutting-edge technologies. Cargill has scaled up and fully embraced the idea of installing a huge kite on one of its cargo ships to harness wind power.
The project is geared towards cutting back on the consumption of fuel and carbon dioxide emissions. We all know that wind power has been used over the centuries to power sailing and smaller vessels, but innovators have taken it up a notch to assist drive cargo ships.
4. Wind energy can be used in sports
For countless years, wind power has been utilized to power some breathtaking sports such as windsurfing, sailing, kite flying, hang-gliding, kitesurfing, wind skiing, Para-sailing, and much more.
5. Wind power can be used to pump water
Utilizing wind power to pump water from underground is not a new technology. It has been used since ancient times. It’s a cheap alternative for some countries and communities. Essentially, there are no extraordinary costs involved compared to using huge pumping tracks powered by fossil fuel sources of energy.
With many people shifting to green lifestyles and the need to live in areas with fresh air devoid of greenhouse gasses, wind energy is set to dominate the energy sector in the years to come. It’s clean, renewable, and cheap once wind harnessing technologies are in place.
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Wind Energy Basics