Cons of Wind

 

 

Negative reactions to wind turbines are many and varied – a good example of the public debate is captured in the newsletter from my village, Upton in Nottinghamshire. See ‘Wind debate’ pdf below.

Wind debate.pdf

Certainly public opinion can be strong enough to halt wind energy: a turbine designed to supplement power on a Milton Keynes housing estate has never operated, because residents complained of the noise. Yet by the very nature of the resource, many wind farms are usually placed far from dwellings. Moreover, modern turbines are much quieter than their predecessors, as they have to conform to more stringent noise pollution guidelines. Undoubtedly, wind farms that deploy many large turbines, either on high ground or in coastal areas, dramatically change the vista. That disturbs many people who live in the vicinity or who use the locality recreationally. Interestingly, an object of comparable height to a wind turbine, the Angel of the North on the outskirts of Gateshead, is the subject of local pride yet only serves a symbolic function.

The main practical problem with wind turbines is their variable output and intermittency of supply.

  • Turbines cannot be used when wind speed is too high or too low, which requires either complex switching between power sources or an energy storage system when wind-power output is high.
  • Wind turbines and their infrastructure are substantial constructions with a short life span (around 30 years), so production of the materials used in their construction (e.g. concrete) would not be effect-free
  • Wind energy is geographically variable/ In windy places, small-scale development combined with power storage devices could supply all the electricity needs of individual dwellings and small communities; an ideal environmental solution, but not an equitable one, which applies to other alternatives too.

Perhaps, therefore, we need to think as much about how we use energy rather than just which source of supply


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