Wind Energy Pros and Cons vs. the Alternatives

1. Green energy is used worldwide to mean producing power in a way that is environmentally friendly. All green energy sources have the advantage of wind energy, including being non-polluting, or minimally polluting, and are often also important to our energy independence. Any green energy pollution that is produced is small enough that our planet has a natural capability to recover. Wind is one of the few sources of energy that is truly Green, and helping our energy independence.

2. Alternative energy is an additional term used to describe energy sources that replace undesirable fuel sources without the undesirable side effects of the fuel they replace. In its most common use, alternative energy means replacing fossil fuels and their pollutants with cleaner fuels. A clear wind energy benefit is that it’s an “alternative” energy source. Biomass, such as ethanol, is another common alternative fuel.

3. Renewable energy means sources that will not exhaust our finite supplies of fuel on the planet. Of course there are limits to how much power we can generate before the side effects become negative again. Renewable also doesn’t address the pollution effect; wood, for example, is renewable but is not a particularly environmentally friendly solution for energy production.

4. Sustainable energy meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to generate energy from the same source. In simple terms, it is energy that is BOTH renewable and efficient. Sustainable energy can produce some pollution of the environment, as long as it is not sufficient to prohibit heavy use of the source for an indefinite amount of time. To some, this means a time period of 100 years, but we laugh at that as much too short sighted. We believe a better time frame would be 10,000 years.

5. Scalable energy sources are those that are capable, with today’s technology, to generate large amounts of power. The pros and cons of wind energy include the question of whether it is truly scalable. It may not be in areas that are low in sustainable wind, but in many areas there are no problems with wind energy being scalable. Clearly, a wind energy pro is that it can be close enough to the demand for efficient transmission to supply power needs for small islands, cities, schools, industries, and military facilities.

6. Independent energy sources can be sustained in the United States, or at least in North America without dependence on foreign sources. Although there are some minor wind energy disadvantages for some locations, there is no doubt that one of the major pros of wind power is its total independence from foreign influence.

Benefits of Wind Energy vs. Ten Alternatives

Green Alternative Renewable Sustainable Scalable Independent
Wind Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Solar Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tidal/Wave Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Nuclear Power ? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Biomass No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
HydroElectric Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
GeoThermal Yes Yes ? Yes No Yes
Natural Gas No Yes No No No No
Coal No No No No No Yes
Wood No Yes Yes No No No
Oil No No No No Yes No

Advantages of Wind Energy

No power source is entirely impact-free. All energy sources require energy to manufacture the technologies or fuels and all give rise to some degree of negative side effects. Here is a little more information on the pros and cons of the energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

Wind energy advantages are that it is a very reliable renewable energy source if the wind turbines are placed in the right location. The main disadvantages of this form of energy are; sight and noise, as well as wind turbine designs affecting avian life. These disadvantages of wind energy apply mainly to large “wind farms” which use really large traditional style turbines with lots of them in a very small area.

Solar energy can be somewhat unreliable depending on the placement, location, and surrounding environment of the solar cells. The greater the solar energy supply, the more effective the cells will be; however, the more heat a solar panel receives, the more unreliable it can be. Solar also has a somewhat long return on investment without government incentives. Wind energy pros and cons are often compared directly to solar because they both have such great alternative energy advantages.

Tidal energy can be used to create electricity from the large energy force behind the tides. The main disadvantage of tidal energy is the effect on the surrounding environment, affecting sea life, and shore access.

Wave energy is similar to tidal energy, but instead uses the force behind the waves to generate electricity. This is a relatively new technology, and in many cases, is still in the research phase. Wave and wind energy advantages are similar in that they are great alternative power sources but Wave/Tidal does have the same con of wind energy, not scalable in some locations.

Nuclear Power has such an infinite supply fuel that it is considered sustainable, even though it’s not renewable. It’s totally clean when air and water pollution are considered. The big downsides are safety of the power plants and the long term effects of waste storage. The emotional arguments against nuclear power are an additional downside that also has to be regarded as important in any energy solution discussion. Any problems with wind energy are small compared to the emotional issues of nuclear power.

Biomass is renewable energy, but not totally “clean”. Although significantly cleaner than most fossil fuels such as coal and oil, it still produces sulfur dioxide.

HydroElectric energy is a very clean and powerful method for generating electricity from a trapped wall of water. The undesirable side effect is the cost to the surrounding environment and limited locations where it’s optimum.

GeoThermal energy is a reliable energy source but it’s just not available in that many areas and therefore is not very scalable as a solution.

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