Myths about wind power
Despite the fact that governments and businesses in about 80 countries are embracing wind power, and more and more wind power is bringing new, clean and affordable energy every day, some people have concerns about it.
We have listed some of the most common myths about wind power and the factual information that disputes it.
Wind power myths
According to the International Energy Agency fossil fuels are supported by subsidies that amount to $550 billion a year and holding back investment from renewable energy sources. Oil, coal and gas received more than four times more the $120 billion paid out in incentives for renewables including wind, solar and biofuels.
The IEA calls for policy shift that is needed to limit global warming, which the IEA said is on track to increase the world’s temperature by 3.6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. That level would increase the risks of damaging storms, droughts and rising sea levels.
“The huge subsidies fossil fuels enjoy worldwide gives incentives to their consumption, which means that I’m paying you to pollute the world and use energy inefficiently,” said Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA.
Wind energy has become a mainstream technology and is already cheaper than conventional energy sources in an increasing number of markets including Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and parts of China and the US.
All power sources need back-up and no energy technology can be relied upon 100%.¬†The electricity grid copes with big fluctuations in energy demand on a daily basis. Although wind speed varies, this can be forecast fairly accurately. In Denmark, approximately 30 % of electricity demand is already supplied by the wind, and is managed successfully by the Transmission System Operator.¬†
Opinion polls and surveys across the markets worldwide show overwhelming public support for wind power providing an important signal to decision-makers: According to a Eurobarometer survey 89% of EU citizens are in favour of wind energy, compared to 43% for coal and 36% for nuclear. In 2012 a survey conducted in the US showed that 71% of Americans want to see more wind power development and in Canada a research poll found that 78% of Ontarians say that wind is one of the safest forms of electricity generation. In a recent survey in the UK, two-thirds of the Britons voted in favour of wind energy.
Awareness campaigns such as the Global Wind Day help inform Europeans and people around the world about the benefits of wind energy.
Wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 metres per second and reach maximum power output at around 15 metres/second. At very high wind speeds, i.e. gale force winds, (25 metres/second) wind turbines shut down. A modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time, but it generates different outputs depending on the wind speed.
Over the course of a year, it will typically generate 15-30% (or more) of the theoretical maximum output of the turbine. This is known as its capacity factor, and modern turbines are getting reasonably close to theoretical limit of power one can extract from a stream of moving air, hence they are very efficient. However, the capacity factor is less than conventional power generators, but there are no fuel costs - the wind is free. So it doesn't make sense to compare the 'efficiency' of thermal power systems with those of wind or solar or other renewable energy technologies.
Wind turbines produce no greenhouse gas emissions during their operation. It takes a turbine just three to six months to produce the amount of energy that goes into its manufacturing, installation, operation, maintenance and decommissioning after its 20-25 year lifetime. During its lifetime a wind turbine delivers up to 80 times more energy than is used in its production, maintenance and scrapping. Wind energy has the lowest 'lifecycle emissions' of nearly all energy production technologies.
Big environmental and nature conservation groups like Birdlife, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Birdlife support wind energy. Birdlife recently stated that climate change was the single largest threat to birds and wind and renewables were a clear solution to climate change.
Wind farms are always subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment to ensure that their potential effect on the immediate surroundings, including fauna and flora, are carefully considered before construction is allowed to start. Deaths from birds flying into wind turbines represent only a tiny fraction of those caused by other human-related sources such as vehicles and buildings.
A 2012 study carried out in the UK (Pearce- Higgins et al.) concluded that a large majority of species can co-exist or thrive with wind farms once they are operating (Journal of Applied Ecology).
According to the Greening Blue Energy study, "Including both on and offshore facilities, estimated rates of mortality for different bird species range from 0.01 to 23 mortalities per turbine per year" (Drewitt & Langston, 2005). It has been estimated that wind turbines in the US cause the direct deaths of only 0.01-0.02% of all of the birds killed annually by collisions with man-made structures and activities.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and whether you think a wind turbine is attractive or not will always be your personal opinion.
Opinion polls and surveys across the markets show overwhelming public support for wind power providing an important signal to decision-makers: According to a Eurobarometer survey 89% of EU citizens are in favour of wind energy, compared to 43% for coal and 36% for nuclear. In 2012 a survey conducted in the US showed that 71% of Americans want to see more wind power development and in Canada a research poll found that 78% of Ontarians say that wind is one of the safest forms of electricity generation. In a recent survey in the UK, two-thirds of the Britons voted in favour of wind energy.
Awareness campaigns such as the Global Wind Day help inform people around the world about the benefits of wind energy.