Wind Power

The power of wind is a renewable energy source that will never run out, emits no greenhouse gases or other pollution, and could be a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel energy and nuclear power. That means that wind power, along with other sustainable forms of energy generation, will be part of the solution to global warming.

One wind turbine can generate energy for the needs of a whole household. Adding more windmills could see whole fields of wind farms can capture enough energy to power communities and towns, helping to create green cities.

Wind turbines capture natural gusts of air, that turn the blades of windmills and make the central rotor spin. The spinning rotor generates kinetic energy, which is plugged in to a generated to convert the energy into electricity.

Worldwide production of wind energy is growing rapidly, having doubled in the past three years. Wind power capacity has grown by nearly 30% per year for the past five years. Some countries have committed renewable energy and now boast very high usage of wind. The US and China are leading the way, with Germany, Spain and Portugal also promoting wind turbine construction.

Although wind power does not pollute the climate, some people claim that the turbines pose other environmental risks, such as noise pollution and harm to wildlife and human health. However, consistent scientific studies have refuted the myth that wind power generation harms human health, and the impacts of noise from the moving blades can be greatly reduced through more effective positioning of wind farms.

In Gippsland, Australia, a wind farm development proposal was recently rejected on the basis that if would harm endangered native birds. However, the claim that whirring blades harm wildlife is not supported in most cases, and can again be solved by building wind farms in strategic locations where they are not in direct contact with wildlife.

These concerns point to some ongoing issues in effective messaging to garner community support of wind power.

On balance, low level noise pollution and potential harm to local wildlife must be compared to the harms posed by continuing to use fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases that cause climate change, mass extinctions, dangers to human health, water shortages and lower food production.

References

Embrace Wind, ‘Wind farm myths’, 2009, http://www.embracewind.com/myths.html

Nova Science in the News, ‘Wind Power Gathers Speed’, May 2008, http://www.science.org.au/nova/037/037key.htm

Renewable Energy Policy Network, ‘Renewables Global Status Report’, 2009, http://www.ren21.net/pdf/RE_GSR_2009_Update.pdf

Alison Caldwell, ‘Wind farm decision overturned due to endangered bird’, ABC News, 6 April 2006, http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2006/s1610250.htm