Wind Energy and the Environment

Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Many people are also concerned about the long-term environmental impact of nuclear energy, particularly disposal of nuclear waste.

Electricity produced from wind power does not add any greenhouse gasses to the environment, excluding the manufacture, transportation and installation of the equipment. Wind power can therefore significantly reduce the need for other more expensive or environmentally damaging forms of generation.

Some isolated communities in the north use a combination of wind power and generators run by diesel engines. Shipping diesel fuel into these communities is very expensive and uses a lot of energy to transport it. Wind power allows communities to reduce the amount of diesel fuel used. This has the benefit of reducing direct costs of the fuel, transportation costs, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from diesel generators and transportation.

By itself, converting to electricity sources that do not rely on fossil fuels is not enough to eliminate greenhouse gases. Other forms of energy consumption — automobiles and other industries — continue to be the biggest sources of greenhouse gases. However, using alternative renewable energy sources does help.

A wind farm uses only about 1% of the land area it is situated on, leaving the other 99% for other uses, such as farming.

Noise levels on modern wind turbines are very low, no louder than the human voice. Recent studies have determined that there are no adverse health effects from living near wind turbines.

A typical modern wind turbine causes 2 bird deaths per year. Compare this to a household cat, which may kill up to 28 birds in a year, or a highrise building, which may result in over a thousand bird deaths due to collisions each year.

No source of energy is without environmental impact. Access roads must be built to construct and service turbines. As well, transmission lines must be built to take the electricity to market. Modern designs of turbines with slower turning rotors are significantly less dangerous for migrating birds.

More: Wind Energy Development

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