Wind farms are a good solution to the energy crisis
Non-renewable fuel such as coal and gas are used up at a rate much faster than they will ever be replaced naturally. This means we will at one point run out of non-renewable fuel to provide energy for our use. Wind farms have been touted by many as the solution to this dilemma. Would this work, and to what extent would this help?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Wind Farms Help Reduce Carbon Emissions
Unlike other forms of energy production such as coal and gas fired power plants, wind farms do not emit carbon as they use the wind. In fact they even reduce carbon in comparison to normal energy methods. According to the American Wind Energy Association a single 750Kw wind turbine prevents as much carbon dioxide from being emitted each year as could be absorbed by 500 acres of forest. [[http://www.awea.org/faq/co2trees.html]] Carbon emissions are a known factor in causing global warming and so not emitting this is a major point in favour of wind farms.
To say that wind farms reduce carbon emissions is a poor statement. The creation of giant metal wind turbines that encroach on the environment is bound to have some sort of effect on the environment. They also do not last forever, and at some point will have to be taken down. At a great cost to the environment and potentially the wildlife around that area!
Wind power can be generated on a small scale. Unlike more traditional forms of power production wind farms can generate power for individual energy consumers. Households offices and businesses could have their own windmills, which can if researched correctly be relatively cheap to the buyer. Thus providing flexibility in power supply options.
Although a small business or households can have their own wind turbine, a lot of research is involved with placing the wind turbine, to find the best position for the wind. The house concerned may not have sufficient wind to power the turbine.
It is also very rare for a personal or business wind turbine to power much at all. Although advances in technology may progress this it would be extremely surprising for it to power a whole house!
Initial capital outlay aside there is no need to provide more fuel and the source will continue indefinitely. Unlike Nuclear power stations that need to be shut down safely at a massive cost to energy users and the Government. Thus windfarms save money and are not a drain on environmental resources.
Things need to change in terms of the carbon impact we are having on the world, a recent news story on an antarctic ice bridge which held a ice shelf the size of Jamaica intact shattering has given a new warning, things must change. [[http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-warning-as-antarctic-ice-bridge-shatters-1663430.html]]
Rising Costs Of Energy
Although Wind Farms are potentially expensive in the short term, prices for energy are still rising, despite the enormous dip in crude oil prices in 2008/9. Coal and Oil is running out, and supplies are determined by countries that stockpile Oil. Oil is merely a convenient energy source, with a little effort better and more renewable energy sources can be brought to the forefront!
Although it is not known for certain when any oil and gas peak might be it is certain to come at some point. The peak oil argument runs that we have been using oil since the 1900's at an explanentially increasing rate, this is unsustainable and at some point we will reach a point where the discoveries of oil no longer match up to demand. Once there is too little supply compared to demand we will have reached the peak. This will result in very large price increases as there will no longer be any slack in the system. At this point all kinds of renewable energy become essential, wind will also no longer be uneconomic.[[http://www.oilscenarios.info/]]
we will keep inventing new technologies to make the exploitation of the remaining oil cheaper meaning that tar sands can be used so the energy price will remain low so keeping the economic viability of wind reletively low.
The Politics of Other Energy Forms
Internationally Coal and Oil are viewed quite negatively with a lot of people associating piracy, corporate greed and Political corruption and negligence with that particular form of energy. Oil and Coal are used as bargaining powers in diplomacy with countries like Great Britain and Russia amongst others using their apparent abundance of these particular resources as a bullying tactic.
Gas has often come to the forefront of diplomatic rows in Europe with Russia turning off natural gas in payment rows, with other countries like Germany and Hungary even experiencing a knock on effect from this row. [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jan/02/russia.ukraine]]
energy choke points
There are various choke points in world energy supplies that are vulnerable to terrorists, windpower is however domestically based so not nearly so vulnerable. To quote the Energy Information Administrarion "Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes. They are a critical part of global energy security due to the high volume of oil traded through their narrow straits. The Strait of Hormuz... and the Strait of Malacca are two of the world’s most strategic chokepoints.
In 2007, total world oil production amounted to approximately 85 million barrels per day (bbl/d), and around one-half, or over 43 million bbl/d of oil was moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes. The international energy market is dependent upon reliable transport. The blockage of a chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs. In addition, chokepoints leave oil tankers vulnerable to theft from pirates, terrorist attacks, and political unrest in the form of wars or hostilities as well as shipping accidents which can lead to disastrous oil spills."[[http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/World_Oil_Transit_Chokepoints/Background.html]]
So long as the world order remains stable the US and later China will make sure that these choke points remain open to keep supplies comming.
How they helps the planet!
Our fossil fuels are running out and we need something that might help. Wind farms do and use wind which is everywhere, never stops coming and going. We will never run out. This keeps our power natural and clean. The reason why the wind farms are better is because... wind is all around unlike fossil fuels which will be gone near in the future Thats why this point needs to be noticed!
Negative visual impact
Many regard windfarms as a blot on the landscape. They are necessarily very tall and need to be placed in exposed – and thus prominent – locations like on hills and outcrops.
There have many times been protests in towns and villages against the erection of wind farms[[http://www.stopcambridgewindfarm.org.uk/]]. In general wind farms can be seen from miles away, they are over 100m high usually and just one is never built, the farm usually comprises around 10-15 plus.
Because wind farms do not require fuel and the wind is more powerful at sea, wind farms can be built offshore, thus resolving protests that they are a blemish on the natural landscape inland.
This partially depends on location, in my view the wind turbine in south reading positively improves the look of the area! while there may often be local opposition to a turbine it is likely that this is simple nimbyism and will dissipate once the turbines are up - there is now a 2nd planned for Reading “It’s pushed the boundary of wind energy. The turbine at GreenPark is much more important for another reason – it’s the most visible, possibly in the world and definitely in Europe. We have had fantastic feedback from people in Reading saying it’s a landmark.”[[http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2005365_turbine_is_an_ecotriumph http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/10081_decision_on_plan_to_site_turbine_in_greenpark%5D%5D
Unrealiable therefore not the whole solution
Wind patterns are beyond human control. Thus the farms cannot be relied upon to produce a constant supply of energy. There would therefore be the need for more energy sources as backup and these would probably be produced by more traditional means.
While it is not the whole solution due to this unreliability it should be remembered that all types of power are not 100% reliable as they need maintainance, may not have fuel (especially a problem with worries of peak oil and gas) etc. It should also be noted that demand in the UK is not flat, there are major spikes in demand at certain times... for example everyone goes and turns on the kettle just after eastenders ends! this means that there would need to be reserves anyway no matter the main electricity generator. Wind turbines will be connected to the national grid so it is likely that if the wind is not blowing strong enough in the south east then it will be in the north of scotland.[[http://www.bwea.com/energy/rely.html]]
Birds often fly into the sails of turbines, either injuring them or killing them. The building work amongst the continued distruption of the large geographical area of the farms also damages and encroaches upon areas which are usually protected. Endangered and protected species of birds and other animals are threatened by the wind farms [[http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2005/10/69177]]. So it can be argued that wind farms have a negative impact on the surrounding ecology.
scientists have determined most of the birds fly way above wind farms and due to storms which makes the birds fly lower they can always shut them down.
Wind turbines are incredibly noisy when you are in close proximity to them. If placed in residential areas this would cause considerable disturbance.
this seems to be a case of choose your poison! while wind turbines are noisy most of them are in isolated locations where there is no one to hear them. Other types of electricity generation come with similar though different problems, coal, oil and gas come with polution problems, Nuclear with the fear of meltdown, tidal barriers may affect where get flooded, Hydro floods a valley etc
Cost will make energy prices rise
As wind farms are so expensive to set up the price of energy produced by them will rise accordingly. People will not want to pay more for thier power and so this will be very unpopular. Also the financially vulnerable such as pensioners may be affected badly by price rises as they will not be able to afford power.
Although they may be expensive in the short term, overall they will actually save us money. Companies like British Gas offer 'Green tariffs' which offer competitive prices and source all of your energy from renewable energy sources [[http://www.britishgas.co.uk/our-universe/our-tariffs.html]].
Besides the cost isn't the issue with wind farms, they are saving the planet by being much more environmentally friendly in comparison to other energy sources.
What do you think?