The truth about wind generation
Currently, fossil fuels generate around 60% of the UK’s electricity. This is worrying as using fossil fuels to generate energy leaves behind a lot of carbon emissions, which then in turn contributes to global climate change.
However, the move away from fossil fuels and towards renewables has been becoming more and more prevalent in recent years. More can be done though as onshore and offshore wind power needs to form a part of the UK’s renewable energy generation mix, which also includes solar PV, hydro, landfill gas and other bioenergy.
This is even more the case as around 40% of the total winds that moves across the European continent blows around the UK, making it a prime country to take advantage of renewable energy such as wind farms.
Some facts about wind power
- From 2009 to 2020, there has been a 715% increase in the UK’s electricity generation from wind power
- In 2019, offshore and onshore wind energy turnover was nearly £6 billion
- The largest offshore wind farm in the world can be found in the UK, located just off the coast of Yorkshire
- In 2019 there were around 7,200 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers employed in offshore wind in the UK, a significant increase since 2015
- 2020 was the “greenest year on record” for Britain according to the National Grid, with record highs of wind energy generation
What are the advantages of wind energy?
Utilising the power of the wind has its fair share of advantages and is an excellent source of renewable energy for cities, towns, businesses, and households alike.
Once the turbine is up and running there is no longer the need for fuel. It does not need to be connected to power or be fuelled to continue to work. The wind turbines run themselves strictly on the power of wind generated. This is a massive advantage as it makes the running costs cheaper in comparison to other renewables.
One of the cleanest forms of energy
As mentioned above, wind energy does not require the use of fuel to power the turbines. This means that wind energy does not contribute to the production of greenhouse gases during energy production.
The only time that wind energy contributes to greenhouse gases is during the manufacturing, transportation, and installation process, and so has a very indirect impact.
Advances in technology
Thanks to improvements in technology, wind turbines are now extremely efficient energy harvesters. Technological advancements have now allowed wind turbines to be designed to a variety of sizes, allowing it to be used to power businesses and households alike.
The more this technology is utilised, the more innovative it will become which will lead to more electricity generated and less maintenance needed per wind turbine.
What are the disadvantages of wind energy?
Although wind energy has great upsides, like anything, there are also some drawbacks that need to be considered.
Potential danger to some wildlife
Due to the nature of the turbines, flying birds and bats that are on their migration path could be injured if struck by the blades. There is also the affect of noise pollution generated from the whirring blades that can cause wildlife on the floor to be startled.
Although wind turbines have the potential to cause problems for wildlife, other structures such as skyscrapers are also hazardous in the same scenarios but are not considered controversial by wildlife conservation groups.
As mentioned above, wind turbines can cause quite a bit of noise. This is a cause for concern for those who live near a wind farm who then might complain about the noise levels.
However, this is only the case for onshore windfarms as those offshore are so far out at sea that they aren’t an issue. Also with the advancements and innovations in this technology, the newer designs of wind turbines have been shown to reduce noise complaints and therefore have a much quieter presence to them.
Unreliability and unpredictability
Due to the nature of how the technology works, the wind turbine can only generate energy when there is actually wind blowing. Wind energy suffers from something called intermittency, which is essentially the unreliability and unpredictability of the wind itself.
Wind can blow and various speeds and at various intervals, it is hard to predict how much energy the wind turbines can collect in a set period of time. The intermittency means that alternative sources of power will be needed during the times of low to no wind.
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