Dark Side of Wind Power

by Earl Jones

Every story has two sides, every issue has two opinions, and all types of energy have drawbacks or cons that need to be addressed and wind energy, as one of the most touted renewable energy sources, has to be fully examined before the world starts planting wind farms all over the place. There are many sources that have done their own research to some of the issues of wind power, there are some issues that cannot be hidden, and there are still many unknown issues as well.

Problems With Wind Power

People say never trust an oil man because all they care about is making a buck and T. Boone Pickens enthusiasm to wind power has sound fishy and it is. First wind power is not always constant because wind speeds change frequently and if there is no consistent energy from wind farms there could be brownouts all over. To prevent this, there has to be a backup source, usually powered by a source that can turn on instantly, which is why natural gas is more favorable and why Pickens wants more wind turbines as he has major investments in the fossil fuel.

Next wind energy is not as efficient because too many turbines are needed in order to create as much energy as say a nuclear plant or coal plant. This means, to meet the high energy demand, lots of land need to be planted with wind turbines and there is no real answer to rather this land can be reconstructed for another use if wind turbines are not the right answer. The process is liked destroying the land with turbines, cables, and material without really knowing the end result. Many people feel that onshore wind turbines take away from the beauty of the land but no one can deny that these towering structures cannot be missed.

The manufacturing of wind turbines and creating wind farms is another downside to wind energy. Creating these massive structures requires lots of material which emits CO2 to the environment and then actually setting the wind turbines into the ground by drilling and setting a base with concrete, sand and other material also emits more and more CO2. There are no unbiased reports as to the amount of CO2 produced in setting up a wind farm and the amount of CO2 that will be saved during the lifetime of wind turbines. There are many factors that go into this situation but the main one is location and how well the wind farms are setup.
One major drawback that has not been researched as much as it should is the noise and small vibration from wind farms. The noise produced by wind turbines is definitely noticeable even though some may not find it as unpleasant as others. Wind farms are usually located as far away from towns and cities as possible but with the laying of lines some farms are located near smaller ones. There is a book by Dr. Nina Pierpont called Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on the Natural Experiment that talks about the possible health issues from living near wind turbines. The book talks about how the low frequency noise and vibration from the turbines affect the inner ear and can cause difficulty sleeping, mood disorders, childhood terrors, tinnitus, and many other health issues. There are many cases of people facing these problems and many researchers have found similar factors. There definitely needs to be more research on the issue before more and more wind farms are built.

Wind farms also affect wildlife both onshore and offshore and are definitely a negative factor for wind power. Wind turbines always have a chance of killing flying animals that try to fly through the blades. There has been bad planning in the location of some wind farms being located in the path of migratory birds or near places other flying animals often transverse. The Altamont Pass wind farms are a perfect example of a bad location as many migratory birds of prey fly through and are killed including rare species. Other locations have been known to kill bats as well. For offshore wind farms, there needs to be more research on the effects on fish and other animals nearby like seals. The platforms and noise may drive away fish, seals, and other animals which would in turn drive away other animals and could affect the ecological system in the area. Many companies do look at these factors before building offshore wind farms but more work needs to be done to insure complete safety.

The last drawback mentioned here is this major push, especially by Pickens to massively produce wind farms which may be copied all over the world. There are many corrupt businesses doing wind farms who are looking to make a buck and do not invest enough into measures to insure the best result for the environment and the people. Setting up wind farms should require extensive research on the land, the affect on the environment and people, and overall long term affect which some companies do not spend the time to examine. After all wind could be the next oil discovery and companies are trying to invest as fast as possible which could mean the same lobbying and behind the door bribes that Big Oil is already probably doing.

Earl Jones is a freelance writer whose opinions are not part of poweredgenerators.com. As part of covering wind power the need for both negative and positive views are needed and poweredgenerators.com does support that ideal.