Wind energy remains one of the fastest-growing energy sources globally due to the many advantages this form of renewable energy offers. However, certain challenges are keeping wind energy from being used on a greater scale. Here are some of the main benefits of wind energy and the challenges that need to be addressed to grow the industry.
Wind power advantages
Land-based wind power remains one of the lowest-priced energy sources. It only costs a mere 1-2 cents per kWh after production tax credit.
- Clean fuel source
Wind power doesn’t produce atmospheric emissions and doesn’t pollute the air, as it doesn’t require fossil fuels.
- Employment opportunities
The U.S. wind sector employs more than 100 000 workers. Wind turbine technicians are sought-after, and it is becoming one of the fastest-growing positions in the U.S. The Wind Vision Report estimates that wind energy could potentially support in excess of 600 000 jobs in the sectors of maintenance, manufacturing, installation, and supporting services by 2050.
When the sun heats the atmosphere, the Earth rotates, and the wind blows over surface irregularities on the planet. This means that as long as there is sunshine, the wind will blow, and wind energy can be harnessed.
- Wind turbines can be built in rural areas
Rural economies greatly benefit from wind farms, as the wide open spaces provide optimal wind sites. These wind farms typically do not cause inconvenience to those working on the land, and landowners receive rent from wind power plant owners for the use of the land.
Wind power challenges
- Wind energy has to compete with the costs of traditional generation sources
While there have been great strides over the past few decades in decreasing wind energy costs, these projects still need to compete to be economically viable against lower-priced electricity.
- Maintenance costs
The costs of operations and maintenance (O&M) at wind farms in the U.S. ranged between $42 000 – $48 000 per MW in 2016. These costs can vary widely from projections, highlighting the importance of preventative maintenance to keep wind farms in optimum working conditions to keep O&M costs as low as possible.
- Wind sites are often rural
Land-based wind project sites are often located far from cities where electricity demand is high. This means that transmission lines typically need to be built.
- Noise and visual concerns
While wind projects have far less of an environmental impact than traditional power plants, there are concerns over the towers’ aesthetic effect on landscapes and noise produced by the long turbine blades.
- Use of land
Land-based projects often need to compete with projects that could deliver more revenue than electricity generation.