The Pros & Cons of Wind Turbines

By Katie Anderson on August 3rd, 2011

Love them or hate them, wind turbines are becoming more and more of a regular sight across many parts of the UK’s countryside.

Whether you view their growing prominence as a blot on the landscape or find them to be rather aesthetically pleasing, wind turbines are a growing technology in the renewable energy market.

Although the technology still only constitutes a small proportion of the country’s energy production, for many wind energy is seen as a viable option, with wind turbines providing a source of clean renewable energy. And with wind energy set to become a key ingredient for the UK’s future energy growth and its plan to reduce carbon emissions, the use of wind as an energy source looks set to go from strength to strength.

Of course, for anyone considering investing in wind as an energy source, it’s important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of wind turbine technology.

What are the pros of wind turbines?

  • Installing a wind turbine can help you save money by cutting your electricity bills, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be reduced.
  • They offer a clean and environmentally friendly source of energy, and can therefore help in the fight against global warming and help to sustain the future of the planet.
  • They reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We need the likes of wind energy to replace our dependence on gas and oil.
  • Wind turbines can generate power at any time of the day.
  • Wind is a domestic power source and helps to create and promote a more sustainable country.
  • Turbines can help to reduce a households’ carbon dioxide emissions, which is a major cause of climate change.
  • With 40% of all the wind energy in Europe blowing over the UK, the UK is an ideal country to use wind turbines.
  • If your system is producing more electricity than you need, you can make money by selling electricity back to the grid via the Government’s feed-in tariff (Fit) scheme.
  • Wind turbines complement other renewable energy technologies. For example, by combining with solar PV systems, you’ll be able to benefit from a steady, reliable supply of electricity.
  • The technology is getting cheaper to install.
  • Newer models are becoming increasingly more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

What are the cons of wind turbines?

  • Wind turbines aren’t particularly attractive to look at, however they are becoming more and more aesthetically pleasing, with minimum visual impact on their surroundings.
  • Wind power can be less consistent and less predictable compared to other types of alternative energy sources.
  • Wind turbines do emit a low frequency noise. However the noise associated with the early wind turbines has been reduced thanks to the implementation of a direct drive generator, which means many modern turbines have no gearbox, resulting in reduced noise.
  • They do have an environmental impact. In the case of most wind farms, trees have to be cleared. So aside from trees offering a more attractive natural skyline compared to wind turbines, environmentalists have expressed concern about the loss of trees for bird life. It’s a similar story with offshore wind farms, which have been known to create a problem for aquatic life due to vibration.
  • Domestic wind turbines can be costly for homeowners and are a big investment – albeit ultimately a profitable one. According to the Energy Savings Trust, although a small roof mounted micro-wind system will cost around £2,000, larger mast mounted systems can cost between £15,000 to £24,000. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Some turbines can cost in excess of £50,000.
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