Blowing Away the Myths of Wind Power
Wind power is considered by many as an emerging technology, the truth of the matter is we have been using wind power for many hundreds of years to grind our corn and even for milking our cattle. With the dawn of the industrial revolution the use of wind to power machinery fell by the wayside as steam and eventually electricity grew in popularity.
Recent environmental concerns have made way for the return of wind power, and in its wake came a host of myths, mistruths and misunderstandings. This article aims to dispel some of the common myths of wind power.
Wind turbines are only efficient in high winds
This is a common misconception regarding wind turbines. Obviously the more wind there is the more electricity each wind turbine will generate, but even in a light breeze both large commercial wind turbines and the smaller residential wind turbines will generate an acceptable amount of electricity. As the wind speed changes, the angle of the turbines blades will adjust themselves accordingly to achieve maximum efficiency, regardless of wind speed.
Wind turbines are noisy
This may have been true in the past as many early wind turbines had no noise emission guidelines to adhere to. Also, wind turbine manufacturers and wind power companies didn't really consider the impact a large scale wind farm would have on nearby residential areas. These early wind turbines are the source of the current ‘wind turbines are noisy' myth. Over the last decade wind turbine technology had progressed considerably, rendering mechanical noise almost undetectable.
Wind farm planners have strict guidelines to adhere to in order to protect nearby residential areas from noise emissions. This doesn't mean that wind farms are silent as there is an audible ‘swoosh' as the turbines blades pass the tower; however this is only heard at a relatively close range.
Wind farms are not cost effective
Twenty to thirty years ago, wind farms and wind turbine technology was a victim of trial and error to a certain extent. Let us not confuse older, noisier and more costly wind farms with their modern counterparts. In the early 1980's over 5000 wind turbines were put in place at the Tehachapi Pass in California. These days wind farms consist of fewer, larger wind turbines which have proved not only more cost effective but more attractive on the eye than the early wind farms which dotted the landscape with hundreds of smaller wind turbines.
Home wind turbines are a waste of time and money
The smaller home wind turbines are more often than not used in combination with an array of solar panels. The wind turbine will continue to charge the batteries through the night even in a light breeze meaning a steady trickle of electricity is potentially available 24 hours a day. Prices of home wind turbines vary depending on the output power and installation cost. A small residential wind turbine will reduce an average electricity bill by around 20-35%. Or to put it another way, a residential wind turbine would save around half a ton of CO2 each year.
Wind farms kill birds
It is true that a considerable number of birds have flown into the blades of wind turbines and as a result have been injured or even killed. Saying that, it is also true that a large number of birds are killed each year as a result of flying into tall buildings or are hit by cars, trains, trucks and busses. It is an unfortunate fact that human impact on the environment does take its toll on wildlife to a certain extent; however, wind farms do not pose any considerable threat to birds or any other form of wildlife.
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