There are many myths around wind renewable energy, wind turbines and wind farms. This article is about dispelling the 7 most important myths.
Myth 1: The development of a wind farm consumes more energy than the wind farm will ever produce. A modern wind turbine will pay back the energy used during its development within 6 – 12 months of operation. The payback period will depend on the type of the wind turbine used and on the wind speed at the specific site. Taking into consideration that the life expectancy of a wind turbine is at least 20 years we can easily deduce that a wind turbine will produce much more energy than what it takes to develop it. If we also take into consideration the environmental advantages of wind energy such as zero greenhouse gas emissions and zero fuel costs, the payback is even bigger.
Myth 2: Wind farms have a negative impact on tourism. Although this may be true about wind farms that are badly positioned around the environment, studies have shown that if wind farms sites are carefully selected they can have a positive impact to tourism (many tourists for example are interested in visiting a wind farm). Moreover, the development of offshore wind farm installations minimizes the impact wind farms have on tourism.
Myth 3: Wind farms require backup from other traditional energy sources due to the wind speed variation. Backup power generation has always been an important factor of all traditional energy sources and will always be for all renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. The key to minimizing the levels of required backup is to be able to diversify the power generation from different renewable energy sources in addition to the wind energy (like solar energy, solar thermal energy and biomass) and by also greater interconnection between energy markets.
Myth 4: Wind farms are noisy. This drawback is mainly related to the onshore wind farms particularly in densely populated areas. However, in modern wind turbines the level of noise created from the mechanical parts has been largely reduced leaving only the aerodynamic noise created from the rotating blades. By carefully selecting the wind farms sites, the small levels of noise have no impact to people.
Myth 5: Wind farms decrease the value of nearby properties. Studies in US concluded that the value of houses that are in a radius of 5 miles from a wind farm is not negatively affected compared to houses in similar locations without any wind farms nearby. In fact, on many occasions there is a positive impact on the value of prices.
Myth 6: Wind energy production is expensive. The last decade the energy produced by wind turbines is continuously increasing while at the same time wind turbine costs are decreasing. In 2011 a typical wind turbine can produce between 2 – 5 MW, while the largest capacity wind turbines can produce 7,5MW. At the same time there are plans to develop more than 10MW wind turbines. Moreover, the cost of the energy produced by wind turbines is around 0,045 – 0,065 USD while the cost of energy produced from coal is around 0,05 – 0,07 USD. This comparison does not take into consideration the environmental costs, the possible increase in the prices of coal and the costs of carbon dioxide emissions produced by traditional energy sources.
Myth 7: Wind farms destroy bird populations. Although there have been reports of dead birds nearby some wind farm installations, these killings have not been associated with wind farms. However, the biggest threat to bird populations is the changing climate and the destruction of their natural environment by humans.