Wind Energy and its Environmental Effects

Wind Energy and its Environmental Effects
Wind energy can play a critical role in saving our planet from the negative effects of energy powered by fossil fuels. Wind turbines work effectively at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. For instance, a single utility scale wind turbine can prevent the emission of 5,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere a year by displacing the power generated by fossil fuels. Also, a single 750-kilowatt turbine can produce roughly 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Turbines of this nature are the ones now being used in power plants around the world (Wind Energy Weekly). One good example is California. Their wind power plants displace 4.5 billion pounds of CO2 each year with the 3 billion kilowatt hours of energy they produce. To put it into an environmental perspective, that is as much CO2 as could be absorbed by a forest covering 1100 square miles (Wind Energy Weekly). Although wind energy has little to no impact on the environment when it comes to air pollution or greenhouse gases, there are other environmental concerns surrounding this form of energy production. Some of the concerns about wind energy include visual impacts, birds and other living resources, lightning and noise (Wind Energy Development).Wind turbines, by nature, must be sited in highly visible areas to give them enough space to produce the amount of energy desired. However, many of the sites for wind turbine farms are now located in areas that are not highly populated. In addition, just because they are highly visible does not mean that they are ugly. Aesthetic issues are highly subjective by nature. To prevent arguments of the visual nature, placing fewer turbines farther apart could make the overall appearance less offensive to the eye against a natural landscape (Wind Energy Development).

Perhaps the most controversial issue surrounding wind energy is the amount of bird and bat deaths caused by wind turbines. Although many large facilities have operated for long periods of time with only minimal effect on the animals, fish and wildlife conservation agencies are concerned by the deaths of protected birds and bats (Wind Energy Weekly). Other structures have also been associated with bird and bat deaths, such as smokestacks, lighthouses, tall buildings, and radio towers, but since there are so few other concerns about wind energy, this is their most serious problem. The wind industry is currently looking to find a solution to this problem by conducting studies into migratory patterns, bird and bat behaviors, and developing less harmful designs. Once again, proper site selection comes into play to protect winged wildlife. (Wind Energy Development)

Another concern that comes along with wind energy is the amount of noise produced by the turbines. People living nearby wind farms may be bothered by the noise of the turbines, although, for the most part the noise of the mechanical system is usually masked by the wind itself. Since the turbines only run when the wind is blowing, there is no ?still? noise. Recent design changes have also helped to reduce the amount of noise created by wind turbines. Many models are larger, with wider blades, so that ?more wind is converted into rotational torque, and less into noise? (Wind Energy Development). As with the other major concerns of wind energy, proper siting can significantly reduce the impact of noise on the population.

After studying about wind energy and weighing its advantages and disadvantages, I strongly believe that it may be the best power source we have today. There is wind almost everywhere that can be captured and converted into energy if we can only show people how effective it can/will be. It causes no environmental damage, and displaces billions of tons of greenhouse gases each year. If we were to change only a quarter of our country to wind power, that would make a drastic change in the state of our atmosphere and environment. Scientists are already working to decrease the few existing problems with wind energy, and with time I believe that they will become negligible. Even using wind energy in combination with another energy source as a backup for calm days would make a huge difference. I know that when I get older, if I have a house I will most definitely be looking into the possibility of wind energy to power my home.

Wind Energy and its Environmental Effects 7.4 of 10 on the basis of 2025 Review.