Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

3 minute read Javier Hinojosa Last update February 2024

wind turbine at wind farm

There is much discussion of the benefits of wind power in the news. In this article, we want to dive further into what those benefits are, as well as the drawbacks associated with wind power generation.

The Advantages of Wind Power

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Source

Wind turbines harness the wind to generate electricity. Because wind is a renewable resource, it will not run out.

No Pollution During Operation

This form of energy is incredibly environmentally friendly. After a turbine is operational, there is no air or water pollution produced. However, it must be noted that wind turbines are very difficult to recycle.

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Wind farms can replace the need for fossil fuel power plants, which can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from burning said fuels. This can help in the fight against climate change.

Lower Operating Costs

After wind turbines are built, operating costs are relatively low compared to traditional energy sources. Wind power has lower operating costs because there is no need to purchase fuel (like coal, oil, or natural gas) and they require minimal maintenance and upkeep compared to other types of power plants.

Job Creation and Economic Benefits

The wind farming industry poses a significant benefit to the U.S. economy by creating thousands of jobs for Americans. Wind energy generation requires the manufacturing of turbines, installation and construction, and maintenance and operation.

In 2021, the wind industry employed 120,000 Americans.

Decreases Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Increased use of wind energy can help reduce a country’s dependence on fossil fuels. In some cases, this can also increase that country’s energy security at the same time.

Good Use of Non Arable Land

Wind farms can be built on land that is not suitable for agriculture, meaning that it does not need to compete for arable land.

Disadvantages of Wind Energy

Intermittent Nature of Wind

One of the largest drawbacks of wind power is that wind can be unpredictable and varies significantly by time and location. You cannot always count on wind turbines to produce a large amount of power because the wind is not always blowing. The intermittency also does not match up with high energy demand.

Some areas very rarely get wind strong enough to make wind turbines a viable solution for electricity generation at all.

There is also a seasonal nature to wind. During the summer, average wind speeds generally decline meaning that wind turbines cannot produce as much power when people rely even more on electricity to keep their homes cool.

Initial Costs Can Be High

While operating costs can be lower, the costs to start a wind farm can be rather high. Land is expensive, turbine manufacturing and installation can be costly, and the infrastructure to connect a farm to the grid may be extensive.

Noise Production and Overall Aesthetics

Those who live nearby wind farms may not appreciate the noise pollution generated by the turbines. The appearance of a wind turbine is a matter of opinion, but many folks do not appreciate the way they look.

Negative Impact on Airborne Wildlife

Birds and bats did not evolve in world with wind turbines, and as such, the enormous machinery can pose a danger to those animals. When bats and birds collide with turbines, they can be seriously injured or die as a result of the impact.

Land Use

While wind farms can be built on non-arable land, they do still require a significant amount of space.

Maintenance, Durability & Recyclability

Wind turbines have a lifespan of about 20-25 years. When it comes time to deconstruct a turbine and replace it with a newer model, they can be difficult and expensive to recycle.

Energy Storage and Transmission

Because wind farms are typically located in remote areas, a substantial investment is often required to build of transmission lines to transport the electricity to where people live and work.

Additionally, the intermittency of wind often creates challenges for how and when to integrate the power into the grid. This means that energy storage would be a beneficial piece of a wind farm setup. However, there are not energy storage solutions available at this time.

Susceptible to Inclement Weather

When temperatures drop and there is precipitation, the condensation on the blades can hinder the efficiency of a wind turbine or even damage them. This means that wind turbines can be very unreliable during winter storms, when we often need more power to keep homes warm.

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