There has been pressure all over the world on the need for different nations to minimize the amount of the fossil fuels they are using, while seeking to promote the use of renewable sources of energy. With such recommendations and the pressure emanating from every quota, wind and other sources of energy, which are considered renewable have been the beneficiaries with wind power seemingly being fronted as the most viable choice because of its being environmental friendly. However, wind power has not received 100% support among the scholars, nations and even the public, a section of which they have expressed their reservation on supporting wind as the preferred source of energy for the future. Studies have generally shown that those interested in the issues of environment are more likely to be supportive of wind energy. This paper, specifically in examining wind power, tries to find out whether the energy source is green or not.
The debate on whether or not wind energy is a green energy has attracted a very controversial debate with even the environmental scientists divided in opinions. This contrast has been associated with the priorities of personalities, nations and regions. Generally, the locals for example have based their argument the aesthetic perceptions as the main determinant of whether an individual would feel free to support wind power projects and the notion that the energy source is green or not. Those with negative perception cite the issues like large-scale afforestation and land degradation as their basis.
On the other hand, those in support of this notion have argued that with the use of the currently planning-led approach, in the process of developing any wind-farm in which environmentally friendly strategies are adopted, while planning for wind farms, wind should be viewed as a green energy. Additionally, the proponents argue that the benefits of wind energy on environment far much exceed those from alternative energy. For instance, Gipe (2004) indicates that a study found wind turbines to cause less than 1% of annual avian deaths in United States. This is by far much less when compared to deaths caused by electricity power lines that accounted for over 70 % of those deaths. Similarly, the need for land is little in comparison to other forms of energy.
Environmental Impact of Wind Power on a Sustainable World
With increasing global challenges of sustainability and energy efficiency, the onus of having a sustainable world is on the environmental conservation. Energy consumption is pointed out across the world as the largest contributor of negative impacts on environment. Haven (2011) indicates that it is only recently that topics on environment and sustainable world found platforms on international arenas amid an already destructed environment. Renewable and clean energy then came up as the solution to the problems of environmental degradation.
As pointed out by Haven (2011), studies have shown that wind power is the panacea to the eco-friendly production in many companies. Today companies across the world are investing heavily in research to come up with green technologies that are supportive to conservation of environment. Equally, governments across the world are providing incentives to companies to cut down on the consumption of harmful energy and invest in clean technology in an effort to clean up the environment. This effort depends on a clean energy and wind is suggested across as a potential source of clean energy.
The issue of wind power has a lot of implication on environmental conservation given that attracts mixed reactions from different stakeholders. However, it is important to note that use of wind in the generation of power has been in practice since the twelfth century and the current reactions from environmental conservationists need a critical approach. Hence, reservationists by any group must be taken seriously and not like another obstacle to development of sustainable energy.
Haven (2011) contents that reactions from opponents of wind power is informed by the fact that the world is at a crossroad in preserving environment, especially in light of global warming and unpredictable climatic changes. Similarly, extinction of some of the flora and fauna from the face of the world sends shivers in the minds of conservationists, who point out to a correlation between human activities and dynamics that are characteristic of the contemporary world. It is arguable that wind power will inevitably affect the environment, whether positively or negatively, depending on how one chooses to view this issue.
Environmental degradation is a result of various activities, including strives to produce clean energy. Wind power touted as the magic bullet that has been long overdue in efforts to provide the world with green energy. With its explicit benefits lined up for environment, it is only important that debates over the issue should not derail any longer any attempt to save the world from an environmental calamity. Equally important is the fact that developmental projects ought to be discussed conclusively and evaluated to avoid a repeat of what power stations are doing to the environment.
Improvement in technology is expected to provide a solution to some of the challenges that have been facing the use of wind power. Through technological advancement issues of noise and eyesore can amicably be resolved and allow the use of wind power to save the world that is gasping from emission of harmful gases into atmosphere.
To this end, it is amiable that organizations which consume energy in large quantities align themselves with strategies to support efforts for a clean energy. Use of wind power will most probably be a contribution factor towards the end of a sustainable world. The negative impacts of using unsustainable energy, such as fossil fuels, have already escalated to insurmountable levels. Contrary to the views of opponents of wind power, saving flora and fauna is the larger vision of wind power and trying to fish out specks, while leaving locks can only service a meaningless purpose.
The buck then stops at sensible minds that have the issues of environmental conservation at heart. The development and implementation of sustainable strategies such as the use of wind power can help in coping with dynamics in the global environment by cutting down on the use harmful energy and maximizing resource efficiency. This undoubtedly involves the use of wind power and other renewable energy sources. The discussion as to whether to adopt wind energy is also significant because it helps in shifting the attention of stakeholders to environmental conservation besides the benefits is provides the environment with. This paper will therefore examine the reasons for and against the notion of wind as a green energy.
Yes. Wind Power is Green
According to Haven (2011), conventional energy sources like coal, gas, and water are diminishing at a faster rate even as the earth’s energy requirement continues to be on the upward trend globally. Wind power as the second sufficient renewable green energy after solar energy, is touted as one of the most viable solutions to problems of coal and oil. In a world faced with numerous social, economic, environment and political challenges, it is only fair that the potential of wind to provide a solution to energy requirement is used for exploration. Arguably, wind power compares fairly as an environmental friendly source of energy with other sources. Environmental conservation is a hot button topic that elicits numerous views ranging from governments to nature groups. However, the choice of wind energy, as a preferable green energy source, augments the long held desire for economic empowerment, since it caters more efficiently for environmental concerns.
Wind power is cheaper to produce, once wind farms are set up. Furthermore, with proper planning, it is possible to utilize a smaller area to put up wind turbines. Consequentially, this saves the number of trees cut down to provide free space. According to Armaroli & Balzani (2011), a huge wind farm will require less room to provide sufficient energy for a country like the United States. They indicate that this is less when compared to other forms of energy like hydroelectric plants that require vast piece of land and are associated with coal mining and fuel mining ventures. As more land is used, more wildlife is likely to be disrupted from their natural environment, which is at the heart of environmental conservationists.
As a renewable source, Armaroli & Balzani (2011) argue that wind can produce more than ten times of energy required across the globe. They further note that the need for land cannot be a limiting factor to the use of wind energy since technological advances allow the use of wind turbines in the offshore places to reduce encroachment on lands used for settlement and wildlife.
According to Haven (2011), it is easier and less costly to put up wind turbines. This makes the source of energy more fit at a time when the economic crisis has just been witnessed like that during the last decade that affected the operations of many organizations that were caring for the environment. As a result, many organizations could not provide sufficient financing to cater for the preservation of environment. As countries strive to reverse the global crisis, wind power provides a better option of reducing the cost of energy. The money saved can help in conserving the environment and sustaining world energy sources. Alternatively, wind energy provides a channel to clean up environment as a way of reaching for a sustainable world. This helps in ensuring that the environment remains stable and preserved even as the world becomes self sufficient in terms of energy supply.
Similarly, Haven (2011) observes that the issue of biodegradable substances used in the construction of many energy sources has continued to be explored in terms of preserving the environment. A number of the energy sources like coal and fuel mining pose a great danger to the environment with their byproducts, most of which are non-biodegradables. These by-products end up in water bodies interfering with the lives of flora and fauna found in these bodies. Similarly, they pose a danger to human health as chemical used in mines end up in agricultural lands and plants in those farms pick them up. Additionally, he notes that mining depends on one of the most valuable resources available to human, water, and that this dependence contributes to diminishing of clean water for human use. On the other hand, wind power provides a better solution to these challenges, since it does not produce byproducts that can be harmful to the environment. Haven (2011) further cites that equally important is the fact that the products of wind turbines are renewable and therefore does not expose the public to an eyesore.
A greener world is composed of a natural circle of seasons that are to free it from the disruption of human activities. Global warming and other climate changes that are unfavorable to conducive environment are a result of emission of harmful chemicals from industries and mining fields (Haven, 2011). Wind energy provides a clean environment because it does not result in emission of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
Furthermore, Armaroli & Balzani (2011) argue that because of its nature of producing green energy, wind helps in cleaning up the air since there is no emission of pollutants. This translates into less smog and reduced acid rains. On the contrary, he points out that it is the power stations that are the major pollutants of air with millions of tons of harmful substances like sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide emitted each year. Chemical pollutants contribute to the destruction of ozone layer that leads to global warming and adverse climatic changes. Evidently, Haven (2011) argues that operating a single turbine has been credited with the displacement of close to 2000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.
Moreover, Gipe (2004) points out that the use of wind energy necessitates the use of unusable lands that are not beneficial to human activities. Since, wind turbines only require wind hence it is possible to bring unusable land to benefit the people by locating wind farms in those areas. This is also beneficial due to unusable land such as deserts, rocky regions and snow caped places rarely used for settlement and wildlife in such regions is limited. Gipe (2004) notes that as a way of protecting the environment, wind power has the potential to utilize formally unused land, while at the same time contributing to the conservation of the environment.
No. Wind Power is not Green
Irrespective of the potential of power source to promote environmental conservation, Haven (2011) notes that environmental impacts from production of wind power present a stark image to the efforts of preserving and conserving the environment. He further points out that this is associated with the extinction of animals and plants. Wind power production utilizes strategic areas that projected as wind routes. These areas have animals and plants that naturally reside in them. Therefore, production of power using wind is at the center of a discussion that involves the need for preservation of endangered animals and plants versus the insatiable desire of man to have a cheap supply of energy. In this debate, the natural conservationists view the attempt to promote wind energy as another attempt by man to satisfy their needs at the expense of other lives on. Erection of wind power farms is likened to the massive clearance of forests that was a characteristic of 16th century with the rise of agrarian revolution.
As a long as time project to transform countries like United States to become 20% reliant on wind energy, wind power requires a unified approach from all stakeholders in the energy sector. Haven (2011) argues that wind power is costly and an unnecessary waste of valuable time considering the facts that political forces interplay to influence government policies. Opponents of wind energy argue that the government already has enough problems to take care of and such a project is likely to shift not only the political attention but also financial resources towards it. He further adds that countries already have sufficient alternatives for renewable energy sources such as hydro and solar and therefore a concerted venture in wind energy duplicates efforts.
The political standstill that faces wind power as a source of energy is also vested in the interests of diverging resources to programs of environmental conservation. Bartmann, Fink & Sagrillo (2009) observe that there are already established sources of energy, which have not attained their full potential. He therefore argues that it is wasteful to allocate resources to a project that will serve similar purposes. With the need for funds to use in producing wind power, it is assumed that a precedent will be formed where public funds are spent on projects even if they does not contribute to environmental sustainability.
According to Bartmann, Fink & Sagrillo (2009), the use of wind power will provide more harm to the environment and people generally. They concur with Haven’s argument that wind power just adds to already numerous ways in which wildlife is destroyed at an alarming rate. They argue that animal deaths from strikes of wind turbines, especially those of birds have been rampart. This attracts attention of conservationists who argue that avian deaths have escalated in countries like the United States where it was on the decline until the widespread use of turbines.
The issue of avian death is at the heart of animal conservationists with recorded numbers of deaths caused by turbines escalating. Haven (2011) noted that the low pressure caused by moving turbines has been killing those bats moving closer to them. This is more intensive, especially in areas where wind farms are located in areas where birds are dominant. As a result, wind power threatens the existence of some animals by pushing them from their natural places. It is common for animals to migrate from their natural habitat if they are threatened by human activities.
The issue of noise is also of great concern to people who are settled in places near wind farms. According to Gipe (2004), the generation of wind power is hazardous to human settlement. Noise from turbines is at times as loud as a taking off Chinook helicopter. This has raised the question of whether the people living in the nearby are really safe. Gipe (2004) further points out that technical expertise are required in controlling the amount of noise generated by wind turbines. He argues that because this has not been attained, noise from the wind turbines will continue to pose a danger to people now that there are plans of putting up more turbines in pursuit of energy.
Haven (2011) notes that cases of wind farm providing an eyesore to environment are reported in some areas. Building large wind farms requires erection of many tall posts in a small area. This interferes with the aesthetic nature of the environment which is not pleasant to people and ends up as an eyesore contrary to the beauty sceneries that characterized those regions. Additionally, cases of accidents from turbines that blow up while moving posing danger to people living around wind farms have been reported. According to Bartmann, Fink & Sagrillo (2009), several deaths of people knocked by turbine plates are reported annually. Accidents from turbine plates are a result of plates released and thrown into a residential area. Few cases have been reported. This is hazardous to people as the distance of fall depends on the speed at which the turbine was moving and thus makes is difficult to predict the extent of harm it can cause.
Armaroli & Balzani (2011) note that the use of permanent magnets in wind turbines depletes the earth of a rare earth mineral called neodymium, traditionally exported from China. It is argued that continued use of this mineral in the production of turbines will deplete the world of this rare mineral and therefore contribute to destruction of natural resources. However, the use of neodymium is currently under review in order to seek alternative materials sought in the manufacture of wind turbines.
Finally, wind turbines are associated with the shadow flickering caused by sunrays when they fall on the turbines at a certain angle. This has emerged as another hurdle to the provision of renewable energy from wind. Similarly, Gipe (2004) argues that this shadow flickering effect from wind turbine is the cause of movement of people and other animals from their usual residences to seek for better regions of stay (Haven, 2011). Consequently, shadow flickering interferes with the environment by blocking sunrays from reaching the ground and thus affecting growth of plants on the ground.
The above discussion has presented arguments for and against the use of wind power as a solution to the current global challenge of increasing energy requirement. Researches indicate that the use of wind power as green energy is in resonance with the need for an environmental friendly source of energy that is sustainable. As indicated, various sources of renewable energy such as solar and sea waves are available for use yet they pose no obstacle to the use of wind as a source of energy. However, the paper has emphasized the need to evaluate the viability of wind power, especially where is used in large-scale as a preferred source of energy, pointing to the issues raised by the opponents of this source that concern environmental impacts. Touted as a solution to the global climatic changes, wind power comes up as an eco-friendly source of energy towards maximization of limited resources in the world.