In this article we explore the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy.
Wind energy: a step towards a more sustainable energy model
Wind energy is one of the most common forms of renewable energies used on the planet. A commitment to this type of energy implies supporting a sustainability-based change in our current energy model.
Wind energy is obtained when the kinetic energy of masses of air are converted into the mechanical energy of the turbine blades, through wind, which in turn produces electricity through a generator. It currently accounts for more than 3% of the global electricity consumption and is expected to reach 18% in 2050 according to data from the International Energy Agency.
If you are interested in knowing more about its operation, you can read our post: What is wind energy and how does it work?
Main advantages of wind energy
One of the most notable benefits of wind energy is that it is a renewable, non-polluting, indigenous and inexhaustible energy source. In addition, it implies a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, leading to sustainable development. Here are some of its main benefits:
- It is a renewable and clean energy.
Wind originates from atmospheric processes ultimately due to solar radiation, and therefore is a renewable, natural resource that does not produce atmospheric emissions or pollutants.
- Wind energy is indigenous.
Wind is available on the entire planet, therefore not only its energy can be harnessed everywhere, it also generates local employment and wealth wherever it is employed.
- It is adaptable to almost any space.
It can be installed in spaces which are unsuitable for other purposes, such as desert area. It can also coexist with other land uses, such as cultivation or livestock.
- It has a quick installation.
It does not require mining or fuel transformation. Wind turbines can also be installed at different heights to achieve stable energy production.
- It allows self-feeding of homes.
When it is combined with photovoltaic solar panels, the self-feeding of homes becomes a possibility, avoiding the need to connect to energy supply networks.
- It is considered a cheap energy.
It is a low-cost energy with a fairly stable price, which allows it to compete in profitability with traditional energy sources, in addition to being a source of savings.
Main disadvantages of wind energy
One of the main disadvantages of wind energy is its lack of plannability of obtaining energy due to the random nature of wind. This, along with other primary disadvantages, are explored in the list below:
- Lack of security in the existence of wind.
This reason is currently the main reason why wind energy can’t be used as the sole source of electrical energy. However, it could potentially be solved using electrical energy storage devices.
- The speed cannot exceed a limit.
If the wind speed is higher than the maximum speed that the turbine can withstand, damage is caused to the shaft and energy production is diminished. Therefore, either control systems are required to disconnect the turbine, or the blades must be modified to be able to deal with faster speeds.
- They require high voltage lines to be built.
To distribute the electrical energy from the wind farms, it is necessary to build high-voltage lines capable of conducting the maximum amount of electricity generated.
- Environmental impacts are sometimes implied.
The installation of wind farms can cause damage to natural habitats, often of birds and bats, and has an aesthetic impact on natural sites. New wind turbine designs are changing this trend.
- Wind farms occupy large areas.
Wind turbines must be separated, although this same area can be used simultaneously for other purposes.
- Difficulty in planning to obtain energy.
Even though the latest meteorological advances for wind forecasting are constantly improving, the randomness of wind still causes a serious problem in planning the obtaining of energy.
According to Belén Linares, the director of innovation of Acciona is expected to only invoice projects in the scale of $18 billion by 2023, a period in which the annual storage capacity of batteries will go from 360 MW to 14,000 MW.