Wind energy is a renewable source of energy which is generated by the action of moving wind or breeze. Although wind energy is also used to generate mechanical energy in wind mills, wind pumps, ships with sails and similar, the main utility of wind energy is generation of electricity via special wheels known as wind turbines. In spite of the fact that it is a renewable source of energy and apparently appears to be “greener” than other more conventional forms of energy, there are actually several disadvantages of wind energy.
The very source of the power, which is the speed of moving wind itself, is the main problem here as wind speed is seldom uniform. It is important that the speed of wind is more or less uniform in order for a wind power plant to generate power effectively, because if wind speed is too slow, then the costs of running the turbine would be too high when compared to the energy generated at that time. Unfortunately, even when the speed of wind is very high, the wind turbines cannot be used either because very high wind speeds can damage the system. The operating range of a regular wind turbine is usually between 6.7 mph to 56 mph; Wind speeds below or above these limits would render a wind turbine useless. This is the main reason as to why wind turbines are unable to become a consistent source of energy. This inconsistency leads to another obvious problem which is of course the fact that wind power plants need to be supported by other sources of energy to supply power when the demand increases or when the output diminishes; which means that they cannot totally replace other more conventional forms of energy.
Unfortunately, wind turbines of today are still unable to convert the entire mechanical energy into electrical energy from speeding wind that pass through them and thus a huge portion of the wind energy is wasted. In order to get a more exact picture of how much energy is utilized and how much is wasted, one would need to refer to the Betz’ Law, which clearly shows that with our current technological condition in regard to wind energy extraction, the wind plants lose about 41% of the total energy that is available to the system. The remaining 59% productivity rate is not good enough, especially when one considers that even that rate is only as consistent as the source of the power itself.
Wind usually blows over a large area and not in a concentrated manner. In order to produce any serious amount of electrical energy from wind plants, the turbines need to be spread out over a large area. Also, the turbines cannot just be placed close to each other because each of the turbines needs a significant amount of space to work properly due to turbulence factors. Multiple acres of land must therefore be bought along with the turbines and all other necessary equipments. As one can imagine, this would not only cost money, but would also require large amounts of free land in order to expand, which is why it is quite hard to expand them without destroying entire forests. The wind power projects would still be somewhat feasible if they had the potential to produce enough power to compensate for the costs associated with setting them up, unfortunately that is seldom the case because of the inconsistent nature of wind itself.
While most do not care about the impact of the wind energy plants on animals and birds, it is a fact that these plants are very harmful for the creatures who share the planet with us. Firstly, forests are home to wildlife and wind power plants necessitate deforestation in order to be set up and expand. In addition to devastating natural habitats, the huge blades of the turbines are also known to affect flying creatures such as bats and birds directly. Bats are affected in the worst way as they die frequently due to burst lungs, which are brought on by the wind turbulence created from the turbine blades. Although it is not yet proven, but some scientists are of the opinion that the humming noise created by the enormous blades may attract certain species of birds towards them and since it is not possible to see the blades when they turn fast enough; the result is gruesome. The noise from the huge machineries and moving blades are intolerable for even humans and that is the reason these plants are usually built away from localities. The same noise from these wind power plants often scare the wild animals and disrupt their way of life. Modern environmentalists do not consider wind energy as a ‘green” source of energy at all because of these reasons.
Although it sounds unrelated, but the huge wind turbines have been reported by defense forces as a problem. The problem stems from the fact that the wind turbines are detected as aircraft by the radar systems. In fact, the wind towers are found to create “holes” in the country’s radar system which would mean that the system would no longer be able to detect enemy aircraft if they followed the blind spot created by the turbine towers.
Although everyone may not agree that the wind turbines are unsightly, most seem to think so. In fact, wind farms have at times been disallowed because of the fact that they might reduce the scenic appeal of that particular place. One has to agree that a great number of wind turbines set up over a large tract of land would indeed interfere with the scenery and the background in the countryside may lose its natural scenery. Unless wind power technology goes through dramatic design changes, this is a disadvantage that would be very hard to overcome.
Another issue with setting up a wind power plant is that the towers are easily damaged due to their delicate constitutions, especially during a particularly violent thunderstorm. Wind turbine towers are tall, slender constructions that are particularly susceptible to lightning, and since windy places often experience thunderstorms accompanied by lightning, the result could be very expensive. What this means is that not only will it require frequent investments in order to repair or change the damaged parts, but money must also be spent in order to safely dispose of the invalid machineries in an environmentally friendly way. This would be another reason as to why wind energy plants turn out to be too expensive, even in the long run.
As mentioned earlier, wind turbines make a lot of noise and the noise becomes even worse when wind speed is low. This obviously makes wind power plants totally unsuitable to be set up near localities, and that is a fact that stands directly in the path of using wind power to supply electricity to the population. The distance that must exist between a locality and a wind plant makes it very difficult to supply houses with power and also adds to the total cost of the project.