The Challenges and Benefits of Wind Energy
Wind power generation involves the use of naturally occurring winds to power wind turbines and to generate power. After solar energy, wind energy is the fastest developing alternate source of energy. A typical wind farm usually consists of a set of windmills, which harnesses the power of wind, such farms are then connected to the main transmission grids.
The power generation from wind farms is variable which means that the energy output fluctuates with time. Wind energy is seen to be consistent for more extended periods of time but has dramatic short-term fluctuations. Old wind power systems used induction generators with large capacitor banks for power corrections. The modern plants use variable speed generators with multiple power converter capabilities and collector systems.
Advantages of wind power generation
Some of the major benefits of using wind energy are mentioned below.
- It is cost-effective- Wind power is extremely cost-effective and is one of the cheapest renewable sources of energy. As of today, there is little to no market for wind energy and hence can be considered as a free source of energy. Since it is considered as a free source of energy, the operational costs of wind farms are also significantly low compared to other forms of energy.
- A domestic source of power- With wind power systems, the local region needs to have an abundant supply of wind. Most wind power systems are domestic, meaning they benefit their local users.
- Renewable and eco-friendly- Most locations that are suitable for wind farms have consistent wind generation throughout the year. Although there is a day to day fluctuations, most locations are making wind energy a stable renewable source. Wind power is also environmentally friendly and has an extremely low carbon footprint.
- Provides power to remote locations- Wind power is viable in areas of intense and continuous winds. Such places are usually geographically remote and isolated; such as hilltops and coasts. Also, a lot of times, the nature of weather makes solar power ineffective. In cases, wind power systems can power domestic communities dwelling in such locations.
Challenges faced by wind energy industry
Although wind energy is increasingly gaining popularity, there are significant challenges that the industry faces today. Some of the major concerns with wind energy are mentioned below.
- Challenges in erecting wind farms- Wind farms are typically located in remote locations which are away from main cities and sources of infrastructure. Hence, establishing a wind farm requires significant investments in terms of capital, resources and time.
- Wind farms are not profitable for land-use- While wind energy is environment-friendly, the sheer size and scope of windmills makes them an inefficient form of land use. The land on which such wind-turbines are constructed can be used better to provide short-term profits.
- Wind farms are location specific- This is probably the biggest drawback of wind power generation. For wind energy systems to be viable, significantly strong winds are required. The number of locations that have such weather conditions throughout the year is geographically limited, decreasing the scope of this technology.