Environmental Considerations for Wind Energy
To those of you who support wind energy for environmental consideration (renewable energy, climate change, etc.) I commend your intentions. Sadly, however, you have been misled.
If you believe that wind energy will replace coal generation, it will not. It is too unreliable. Coal is used primarily for base load generation (that portion of the energy demand that is nearly constant). Windmills require a minimum wind speed of about 10 mph. In this part of the country that only occurs about 110 days per year on average. If it weren’t for coal, we would be without power a lot. Wind energy is therefore used to supplement peaking power. Peaking power is currently provided mostly by combustion turbines, or similar equipment, that burn natural gas. Natural gas is considered a clean fuel and is not blamed for climate change. So there is really no help with climate change.
By now most people have had a chance to get close enough to a wind turbine to realize how big they really are. It takes a lot of steel for each wind turbine. The smeltering and fabrication of steel is not an environmentally friendly process. Also, on the 250 days a year when the wind speed is below the 10 mph threshold, they use electricity to keep them rotating slowly. This is to help prevent the shaft from sagging due to the cantilevered weight of the rotor. When you factor everything in you have an overall negative impact on the environment.
If there are any wind energy supporters still reading, you’re probably thinking that I’m full of it and don’t know what I am talking about. Don’t take my word for it. Research it yourself. Be informed about your beliefs and convictions. Just don’t look only at information provided by the wind energy companies. Look at other sources, weigh all the evidence, and make up your own mind.