Skip to main content

Wind Energy: A Love/Hate Relationship

There is a continuous problem in the US surrounding wind farms. As coal prices continue to rise and renewables continue to fall, the US will likely begin switching to renewable energy, if not for the environmental benefits, then for the economic savings.

-1x-1 (1).png
Source: Bloomberg

However, there is one problem facing this switch: everybody wants wind energy to supply the power grids, but don't want to see the turbines from their backyards.

A number of wind farm projects - both onshore and offshore - have been delayed or have been halted altogether because of aesthetic impact. Towns in New York state are trying their best to prevent wind farms from nearing their town’s borders to the extent that laws have been created to prevent large-scale industrial wind farms from supplying the grid and restrict locations of wind farms. Some other New York state residents will only support wind farm projects once they have been assured their ocean view will not be disturbed.

Other states’ residents are worried of the potential impacts of wind farms on their livelihoods. A recently approved offshore wind farm in off Long Island that is set to be the biggest wind farm in the US faced opposition from fishermen who thought the turbines that will be attached to the seafloor may impact their catch. Other Long Island residents were concerned that their electricity bills may rise.

The famous Cape Wind project has had to continuously ask for construction extension grants from the state of Massachusetts due to lack of financial backing. Two utilities had agreed to buy 77.5% of Cape Wind's output, but pulled out. These contracts were highly important in helping pay for the $2.6 billion construction. The project also faces litigation issues as residents, fishermen, and businesses that oppose the project find different reasons to sue the project.

It is clear that there is a huge battle between wind farms and their neighbours.  

But, despite residents’ concerns, there are actually huge benefits to wind farms as a source of energy.

Rural communities in New York where wind farms have been implemented often receive payments instead of taxes from host community agreements because of the wind farms. Wind farms built on private land in Iowa earn those landowners around $20 million annually from the energy production.

Additionally, wind farms have increased employment across the country. For example, Iowa employs 8,000-9,000 people, adding $11.8 billion to the state community. This is much higher than the 2,200 people employed in the Iowa mining industry.

Bloomberg estimates that the cost of offshore wind farms will decrease by 71% by 2040, as renewable energy is becoming more popular than experts had realised. The large offshore Long Island wind farm will likely cost less than originally anticipated.

There is also an increasing demand for renewable energy as Fortune 500 companies continue to aim to operate with 100% renewable energy, and electricity providers in states with deregulated electricity are providing options for homes and businesses to run on 100% renewables. Companies like wattbuy.com are helping residents in these deregulated states choose their electricity supplier, allowing customers to choose cheaper plans, and plans that get a certain percent of energy from renewables.


Clearly, renewables are and need to be the future for electricity supply if the world wants to be able to sustain the amount of energy used on a yearly basis. Fossil fuels are finite, but renewables are infinite. Rather than imposing fears of potential problems that may arise from the implementation of a wind farm, residents should be doing all they can to support the industry and allow it to continue to develop and improve.

Popular posts from this blog

Elon Musk and the Huge Lithium Battery in South Australia

South Australia, the Australian state that relies heavily on wind energy to supply the power grid, faced a number of blackouts following variations in wind speed that makes energy generation inconsistent. Grid operators said that having a 100-megawatt battery could store enough energy to alleviate most of the problems with inconsistent energy generation rates. The battery should be able to sustain 100 megawatts of power and store 129 megawatt hours, enough to power 30,000 homes.
In addition to being a backup in case of inconsistent energy supply, the battery will also help reduce the cost of electricity for consumers. The battery can be charged when there is excess power when cost of production is much lower, and then distribute that energy from the battery when there is less energy available and costs are higher.
Elon Musk won a bid, beating 91 other international contestants, to produce this battery, famously stating that he would built it 100 days or else the battery would be free. …

Do we need electricity grids in emerging markets?

Electricity grids have been powering cities across the world since the early 1900s. As the world continues to develop at different speeds, and rural areas demand more and more electricity, is the traditional electricity grid still the best option?

Providing electricity to countryside homes will likely have ripple effects on eradicating poverty and increasing the sustainable development of these areas. Kerosene lamps are main source of light at night in many rural homes in developing countries. These lamps have been known to cause injuries when broken, as the highly flammable fuel can severely burn those nearby.

Companies like d.light and M-KOPA have attempted to address this safety issue associated with kerosene lamps by developing solar powered LED lights to replace the kerosene. While these LED lamps may have a much higher upfront cost than kerosene lamps, they have very little maintenance costs and much lower life-time costs. Providing electricity to such homes not only reduces the…

Renewable Energy and the Electricity Grid

Solar and wind energy is becoming less and less expensive and more and more states are demanding to be powered by renewable energy. California, a leader in renewable energy usage, has a goal of operating on 33% renewable energy by 2020, and they will likely achieve the goal in time. Integrating renewables into the electricity grid is an important step towards sustainability. In order for the US to fully benefit from all of the energy sources that are available to it, they need to address the challenges associated with adding renewables to the grid.
One of the biggest challenges with renewables powering the grid is their unreliability. The grid was built on the idea that it would be powered by fossil fuels, requiring predictable, on demand energy generation. With solar and wind power, this isn't the case. When the sun goes down or the wind stops, there is no more electricity being produced. The grid operator no longer has the option to turn the electricity generator on or off.
The …