Wind Power as a Renewable Energy Alternative
by victoriasalomon on November 9, 2017 - 3:39pm
Victoria Salomon and Katelyn Moffat
Here in Quebec, we are the country’s second biggest market for the renewable energy source that is wind power. Wind power comes from giant turbines whose blades catch the wind and turn, which then spins a large shaft connected to a generator. The generator is responsible for producing the electricity. It is a completely natural way of producing energy. Quebec aims to decrease it’s use of fossil fuels by 40% over 15 years, as well as increase their use of renewables by 25% in the same time frame. Wind power is a renewable energy source that is prosperous for those living in Quebec, yes, but for others as well. It would greatly help reduce the use of fossil fuels, coupled with other renewable energy systems available. There are some constraints that we will describe, but we will also mention the copious advantages to using wind power as a renewable alternative.
Basic constraints that have always come with the idea of wind power it is aesthetic and audio pollution, as well as damaging to life around the turbines. The latter is not as true anymore, as new technologies allow for more stable and obvious turbines, as to ensure less bird death. As well as the fact that is has been proven that air pollution related to climate change and emissions kill more birds than turbines. As for aesthetic and audio pollution, most construction takes place in isolated, where there are less chances of people being bothered.
One of the few leading constraints concerning wind power, is that some say there are better uses of the land allotted to the wind turbines. There might be more profitable ways of using the land than putting it towards energy, for example, agriculture. This still concerns the profit-oriented mindset seen in the energy industry, which is not beneficial to moving towards a sustainable economy. Yes, fossil fuels generate a profit, but there are priorities that need to be made, regarding the health of the planet. An additional issue to this, would be that there is an initially higher price when it comes to wind energy. As seen in the documentary we watched in class, it is true that fossil fuels do not have a higher starting price, but the constant payments made for heating and other appliances will add up over time. In the end, that is the less economic option. It is better to invest more at the beginning and not have to pay long-term staggering prices. Though, some people are wary and do not want to make that investment. There is a level of trusting the business that must take place, but here it Quebec, it is not something that won’t pay off.
There are multiple advantages of wind power though, which counter the minimal negatives. Wind power is renewable, and wind is free as well, meaning no operating costs. It only costs to build the turbines and the power lines, but seeing as we already spend so much money building for hydropower, there is not much of a difference. In fact, land-based utility-scaled wind power is the least expensive way to get energy today, only being 2 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Compared to the 5.5 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour that hydropower costs, it's smarter to go with wind energy. It doesn't create air or water pollution. It can be exported very easily, so even if it is made in rural areas, it can be transported to farther distances without much trouble, in order to supply homes with energy. There is also the idea of constructing smaller turbines in urban spaces that could power the area around it. Having many of them would be able to power large areas of land. The noise problem could be solved simply if we built a wall to block some of the noise, like there are for highways and for airports. Wind power creates very many jobs, and they are more permanent than most jobs from hydropower. Wind power technician has been called the fastest growing job of the decade in the United States.
In all, wind power is a renewable energy source that has an immense potential behind it. There are some issues, but there will be some problems with any energy source suggested or used, so that is unavoidable. The advantages outweigh the negatives, and if people were willing to put in that initial faith, it would pay off for them in the long run, which is what really matters.
"Wind Power." National Geographic. National Geographic, 9 Oct. 2009, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/wind-power/. November 9, 2017.
"Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy." Department of Energy, energy.gov/eere/wind/advantages-and-challenges-wind-energy.
"Residential Rates | Rate D." Residential Rates | Rate D | Hydro-Québec, www.hydroquebec.com/residential/customer-space/account-and-billing/understanding-bill/residential-rates/rate-d.html.