The problem with Onshore windfarms
Humans have been harvesting power from the wind for several thousands of years. Throughout history, we’ve made use of wind mills, wind catchers and several other contraptions. In more recent times, we have started building large wind farms to generate electricity.
The expansion of onshore windfarms has not been without controversy, with some people objecting to their presence on aesthetic or environmental grounds. In this article, we’ll look at three of the main issues that need to be addressed in order for onshore windfarms to become more widely accepted.
What are onshore windfarms?
Onshore windfarms, also known as land-based windfarms, are a type of renewable energy source. They are a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Onshore windfarms generate electricity by using the wind to turn turbines. The turbines are connected to a generator, which produces electricity. Want to know more about the different types of Wind Turbines? Click here.
For context, it might be beneficial to speak about offshore wind farms to create a contrast. Offshore wind farms are built on a large body of water, away from land. There are, in principle, the same wind farms, just without the need for land plus a lot of difficult steps to setting them up. Land-based wind farms are built on dry land in areas that receive a fair quantity of wind.
The pros and cons of onshore windfarms
Onshore windfarms have both advantages and disadvantages. While this blog focuses on addressing the major issues, let’s first discuss the advantages of building onshore windfarms.
One major advantage is that they are a renewable source of energy. This means that they will never run out, unlike fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Another advantage is that they are a ‘clean’ source of energy when compared to fossil fuels. They do not emit carbon dioxide or any greenhouse gasses during energy production.
Onshore windfarms are also relatively cheap when compared to offshore wind farms. It’s easier to build and install turbines on solid ground after all! They are often cheaper to build and maintain, which brings down the cost of electricity.
Issues that need to be dealt with: noise, bird deaths, and land usage
Despite the advantages they provide, land based wind farms have a plethora of issues that should be dealt with before they can become the ‘most viable’ alternative to fossil fuels. Our top three picks are:
1. Noise pollution
Noise pollution is one of the most commonly cited problems with onshore windfarms. The noise can be disruptive to both human and animal life, and has been linked to sleep problems and other health issues to residents that live in close proximity to a wind farm.
2. Bird deaths
Bird deaths are another problem that needs to be dealt with. Birds are known to collide with turbine blades, causing their death most of the times. Collisions are especially fatal if they occur with a wind turbine that has its blades spinning at large speeds. This can be a particular problem for migratory birds who may not be aware of the turbines.
3 They take up a lot of land
They take up a lot of land which can be an issue for landowners and farmers. This the perhaps the greatest and oldest issue wind farms are associated with. To make matters worse, for a wind farm to function properly the turbines need to be spaced out, which means that a lot of more land is required.
There are several other issues, such as cost, visual impact and hazards caused by damaged wind turbines. But for the purpose of the blog, we will only be addressing the ‘big three’. There are a number of ways to mitigate these problems, but they need to be properly planned and implemented in order to be effective.
How to mitigate the problems associated with onshore windfarms
Some people have suggested that onshore windfarms should be banned altogether. However, this would be a disaster for the fight against climate change. Onshore windfarms are one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly sources of renewable energy.
Like most issues with renewable energy, the disruptions and damage caused by these problems can be minimalized with the implementation of a few key changes in design and placement.
1. There are a number of ways to mitigate the noise pollution associated with onshore windfarms. One way is to carefully select the site for the windfarm. Another way is to use newer technology for the wind turbine design, such as the Eco Whisper turbines. Eco Whisper turbines are made of 30 blades that cover a wider surface area and reduces noise produced.
2. Bird deaths can be minimized in a number of ways. One obvious method would be to build wind farms in areas that avoid the path of migratory birds. Another tactic (which is already implemented in most places) is to paint the turbines so that the birds can register its presence better.
3. While there is no real solution to the land crisis caused by wind farms, building more efficient wind turbines may decrease the need for large wind farms in the future. The current philosophy for wind turbine design is ‘the bigger the better’, which only adds to the issue of building large wind farms.
Overall, onshore windfarms are a great source of renewable energy. However, there are a few issues that need to be addressed in order for them to be more efficient and effective. With the right measures in place, onshore windfarms can become a major player in the fight against climate change. Banning onshore windfarms would be a step backwards in the fight against climate change.