The recent 80mph winds across the Uk may have impressed on many people how powerful the wind is. As a sailor, windsurfer and kiter this is old news. Wind is a significant power which must be respected, but is awesome when harnessed.
Wind turbines therefore sound like an ideal beginning to a sustainable form of energy. They don’t emit CO2 once running and can be put anywhere that wind occurs. However, they do have some downsides.
There is considerable opposition to wind farms (a slight euphemism) because of issues such as change to the landscape, noise and efficiency questions. Wind turbines tend to be located in areas with lots of wind – therefore high up, prominent and often in areas of great natural beauty. This natural beauty means that tourism is a major feature of the economy in these areas and concerns are rife that wind turbines will spoil both the vista and the income of these areas. The noise made by the turbines is also a concern. Though subjective, noise, especially repetitive or loud noise can be very irritating and even detrimental to health. Lastly, there is a question about the efficiency of wind turbines at creating energy. Compared to oil and many other fuels, they fare very unfavourably in a lifecycle analysis. Basically, though they may be a step in the right direction, there is little chance of a significant amount of the Uk’s power being supplied by them.
Sustainability is all about a balance between people’s needs and the planet’s needs and thus green otter’s jury is still out on wind turbines.