Environmental Impact of Wind Farms

Published by Chris Bradshaw on June 7, 2011

Wind farms are seen as a great way of generating green electricity without polluting the environment, however do they cause their own environmental problems? There are plenty of concerns about the environmental problems caused by wind farms.

Wind farms are becoming increasingly popular ways to generate clean electricity, they are particularly popular in Greece.

As with any new technology, there are always concerns about what this new technology may be doing. Local communities often express concern when a new wind farm is planned for their local area, these concerns are normally unfounded, however sometimes they are serious problems which need to be considered.

The reasons why wind power is being adopted is simple, it’s because it’s a clean way of generating electricity. The wind does not have a finite amount, it is inexhaustible and is free. It protects the environment, and it’s a competitive and mature way of generating electricity. It also allows countries to be more independent with regards to energy production.

We will now spend some time looking at the environmental concerns, and discuss whether or not they are genuine concerns.

Noise Problems

Many people will be worried about the noise created by wind turbines, while this is a serious problem modern wind turbines do not produce as much noise. The noise has been minimised, by designing the turbines to minimise noise.

Modern wind farms do not create huge amounts of noise as many people expect. The best way to find out for yourself is to visit a wind farm on a windy day.

Interference

Some people have suggested that wind turbines could cause interference affecting TV and radio transmissions. It is known that radio and TV transmissions are affected by obstacles, the wind turbines have moving blades which could disrupt the signals. However the blades are made out of synthetic materials to minimise the risk.

The generator and transformer could potentially emit small levels of electromagnetic radiation, however these emissions will be very week, and as the turbines are located off the ground, there is no risk at all.

Appearance

This is a very personal topic, it depends mainly on whether people like the look of them or think that they destroy the look of the landscape. Normally people will put up with the look, if they realise that wind farms will benefit them then they won’t be as opposed to the looks.

Land use

People have expressed a concern that by building wind farms it Is not possible to use the same land for anything else. Actually 99% of the land can be used for other purposes, including farming. Wind farms are normally built in mountainous regions to get higher wind speeds. In mountainous regions, farming normally concentrates on sheep and goats. The sheep actually like wind turbines as they provide shade during hot days.

Birds

Other people have suggested that wind turbines can affect populations of birds. It is true that birds do occasionally hit buildings. Wind turbines do not increase the problem however. 20 birds per year are killed because of wind turbines, which is a very small number compared to the 2000 killed because they hit cars and electrical lines.

It is important to consider both the positives and the negatives when considering whether or not you want a wind farm project to go ahead. The affects caused by wind turbines are noticeable immediately, whereas the effects of nuclear power take much longer to become apparent.

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