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Advantages and disadvantages of wind power for your home or business

In a previous post we detailed the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, so that you can assess whether it is an effective and profitable option for your homes and businesses. Today we are going to focus on wind energy.


We will start with the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy and the factors to take into account if you want to install a wind turbine in your homes and businesses. For the more curious, we will finish by explaining what this other type of renewable energy is and how it works.


WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WIND ENERGY?

Like solar energy, it is applicable on both low and large scales. In other words, thanks to technological advances in the construction of wind turbines and generators, it is possible to use wind energy in homes and businesses, as well as to build large wind farms. In the following, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy, concerning its private and industrial (wind farms or wind power plants) use.


WIND ENERGY IS SUSTAINABLE

As mentioned above, wind is produced naturally and largely through the influence of the sun and the earth's rotation. This means that as long as the sun shines and the earth rotates, wind is also available to us as a natural source of energy.


WIND ENERGY IS CLEAN

Turbines produce clean energy without generating emissions that can damage the environment as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil or natural gas) does. The combustion of these materials emits particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide in the process.

Pollutant gases are produced only during the manufacture, construction and maintenance of wind turbines.


WIND TURBINES ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE EFFICIENT

Today's wind turbines differ greatly in terms of performance and efficiency from those of 20 years ago. It is to be expected that these constant improvements will continue in the future to optimise these devices, i.e. to enhance their benefits, reduce their drawbacks and make them even more affordable.


WIND ENERGY IS A PROFITABLE INVESTMENT

The total cost of purchasing and installing a wind turbine can usually be recovered over a period of a few years, depending on the individual case. In addition, maintenance costs are also cheap.

Subsidies and tax incentives are sometimes available at local or national level.


WIND ENERGY TAKES UP LITTLE SPACE

If the advantages of wind energy are carefully analysed, it becomes clear that no other form of energy generation requires so little space (at industrial and private level). The actual area consumed by wind turbines is minimal.


Moreover, it is compatible with agricultural and livestock activity and is also reversible, which means that the area occupied by the wind farm can easily be restored to renew the pre-existing land.


Industrial wind power has other benefits as well, including the following:


WIND ENERGY IS ESSENTIAL FOR COUNTRIES WITH FEW FOSSIL FUELS

Countries with few raw materials, such as Spain, benefit greatly from wind energy, contributing to independence in terms of energy policy. Without electricity from renewable energies, we would have to import a lot of electricity or use more fossil fuels. The expansion of wind power plants gives Spain a long-term economic advantage over other nations.


WIND ENERGY CREATES JOBS

The production, maintenance and further development of wind turbines require many workers. In addition to mechanics, engineers and businessmen, other professionals, such as lawyers and biologists, also work in the sector. In Europe, the wind industry currently employs around 70,000 people.


WIND FARMS ENSURE PERMANENT INCOME FOR MUNICIPALITIES

Companies that install wind turbines on municipal land must pay rent and business taxes while the wind turbines produce electricity.


LIST-SUMMARY OF ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF WIND ENERGY


Advantages of wind energy

Disadvantages of wind energy

Private and industrial level

Sustainable energy, as wind is an inexhaustible source of energy

It provides intermittent and variable power

Green energy that reduces carbon footprint

The manufacture of wind turbines produces pollutants

Economic system maintenance


Long service life of wind turbines


Cost-effective investment


Private level

Savings on electricity bills


Independence from electricity market volatility


It is suitable for urban, rural and especially off-grid areas


Wind turbines can be installed on rooftops, terraces and gardens


Industrial level

It represents a diversification in the range of electricity generation

Environmental impact

Contributes to energy policy independence

Lack of effective storage systems

Job creation

Complex recycling of blades

Revenues for municipalities



WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF WIND ENERGY?

On a private and industrial level, the main disadvantage is the availability of wind.


WIND IS NOT A CONSTANT SOURCE OF ENERGY

A disadvantage of wind is that it is often intermittent and therefore not a constant source of energy. As a rule, other complementary energy sources are needed. It is not always present at the required location with adequate strength. Experience shows that it blows relatively regularly near the coast and in the mountains, which are, however, places where it is more costly and difficult to install wind turbines.


In addition, in the case of large wind farms, there are other disadvantages:


WIND FARMS HAVE AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The rotors are detrimental to bird migration and the passage of bats, as they often collide with the windmill blades. At present, attempts are being made to place the turbines in strategic locations outside migratory corridors and other places where these animals live or pass through, in order to avoid causing damage.

Environmental impacts also include:

  • They can be unpleasant to look at. A disadvantage that should not be ignored when installing new wind turbines is the impact on the landscape. While people may have initially followed the construction of these plants with great interest, nowadays many people are disturbed by the sight of these structures and feel they cause harm.
  • They can generate disturbing noises. The movement of the blades causes sounds that can be uncomfortable for both animals and people in the vicinity. However, various noise studies carried out with modern diagnostic equipment do not confirm the negative effects of wind turbines. Even at a distance of 30-40 m from an operating station, the noise reaches the background noise level.

In the case of offshore wind farms, there are fears that they may disturb the marine ecology.


WIND ENERGY REQUIRES STORAGE SYSTEMS OR TO BE COMBINED WITH OTHER ENERGY SOURCES IN A COMPLEMENTARY WAY

Like solar energy, it is only produced as long as the source is available. In other words, wind energy is produced when the wind blows and must be immediately converted into transportable electrical energy so that it can be consumed. If the energy is not used, it vanishes.

Domestic wind energy can be stored in batteries, but on an industrial level, storing it remains a major challenge that scientists and engineers have not been able to overcome to date. However, there is a glimmer of hope: the storage of wind energy in the form of hydrogen and methane. These gases, in turn, can be stored and used at a later date. Power-to-gas, as this type of energy conversion is called, is at a promising stage of development.


WHAT SHOULD YOU CONSIDER WHEN INSTALLING WIND ENERGY IN YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS?


WIND CONDITIONS IN THE AREA

The main factor to consider when determining whether to install a wind turbine at your home or business is to know the wind characteristics in your region. That is, consider typical wind speeds on an annual or seasonal basis. As detailed above, the average wind speed needs to be above 4 m/s to be cost-effective.

In addition, the area must be free of obstacles, so that the wind can flow freely.


TURBINE TYPE

As far as the turbine is concerned, they are usually devices with a power of less than 100 kW (mini-wind turbine). Like photovoltaic panels, they can be installed on roofs, terraces and gardens, with or without poles. Current models are very efficient and quiet (the quietest ones produce a noise below 40 decibels, similar to a refrigerator), and can generate enough energy to power a low-energy house.


PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION

It is recommended that both the initial assessment and installation be carried out by a company of experienced professionals. They will be able to assess the conditions and perform a home energy audit to reduce the possibility of errors.


LEGAL ASPECTS

It is also advisable to check the current legislation in the region and local by-laws beforehand to avoid potential problems.


WHAT IS WIND ENERGY?

Wind energy is, in short, the kinetic energy of air masses.


This kinetic energy of the wind has been harnessed by mankind since ancient times. In Babylon they used wind power to sail and drain swamps, in Egypt to grind grain, in China and Manchuria to pump water from rice paddies. Since the late 19th century, when Charles F. Brush designed the first electric wind turbine to power his own home, we have also been using it to produce electricity through electric generators (wind turbines).


It is a renewable, clean, non-polluting energy and as such is an alternative to fossil fuels.


WIND ENERGY IN SPAIN

On an industrial level, according to data from the AEE (Asociación Empresarial Eólica, Spanish Wind Energy Association) Wind Yearbook 2021, wind energy currently accounts for 21.9% of energy production in Spain. In 2020, the country had 1,267 wind farms in more than 800 municipalities with a total installed capacity (total available capacity of an electricity system) of 27,446 MW. Wind power production in the same year accounted for 53,645 GWh and avoided the emission of 29 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.


WIND ENERGY IN THE BALEARIC ISLANDS

In the Balearic Islands, wind turbine models were tested in the Sierra de Alfabia in 1983. Shortly before that, a 24 kW model had been installed in Sant Joan de Déu.

Es Milà is currently the only wind farm on the islands and produces around 1-2% of the energy consumed in Menorca. It has four turbines of 3,200 kW in total, 800 kW each, with diameters of 59 m


HOW DOES WIND ENERGY WORK?

We have already mentioned at the beginning that electricity from wind energy is generated by wind turbines.

The conversion is largely direct: the kinetic energy of the wind rotates the blades or propellers of a wind turbine. Through a mechanical transmission system, this rotational energy rotates a generator, usually a three-phase alternator, which converts this mechanical rotational energy into electrical energy.

There are different types of wind turbines, depending on their power, the arrangement of the axis of rotation (horizontal or vertical), the presence or not of a gearbox (direct drive), the type of generator, etc.

The amount of electricity generated from wind energy depends to a large extent on the strength of the wind. The wind force can be measured with different scales (Beaufort, km/h, m/s and knots), and depends on solar radiation, the rotation of the earth and local conditions. Therefore, the wind force at a given location varies considerably.

The wind speed required for wind turbine blades to start rotating is approximately 3.5 m/s (cut-in speed), they reach their maximum output in moderate winds of 11 m/s and are switched off to prevent damage and overloading in very strong winds of more than 25 m/s (cut-out speed).


CONCLUSION:GO FOR GREEN ENERGIES


As you can see, there is no perfect energy source: they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

However, the disadvantages of wind turbines and other renewable energy sources are clearly less than those of traditional fossil energy sources with all the damage they cause. On a private level, apart from contributing to the environment, you can also save on your electricity bill.

Wind energy is particularly cost-effective in areas where the wind usually blows at an average speed of more than 4 m/s. In addition, it is often possible to combine a wind power system with a photovoltaic system in homes and businesses, so that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year self-consumption is becoming an increasingly feasible goal. The peak generation periods of the two technologies often occur at different times of the day and different times of the year, making them perfectly complementary. If necessary, a small battery bank can store the energy produced and cover the supply during the hours or days when neither of the two sources is generating energy.


At Luxsystems we support the viability and convenience of mini-generators on a self-consumption scale in the Balearic Islands. If you want to complement an isolated photovoltaic installation or save on your energy consumption, do not hesitate to count on the team of professionals that Luxsystems can provide you with.









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