Our rapid growth and development in the last couple of centuries have come with a cost and that is climate change. With the massive industrial boom and subsequent increase in the demands for energy led to indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels which has been adding skyrocketing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. These gases have heat-trapping characteristics which have been warming up our planet and as a result, we are now witnessing the dire consequences of climate change in the form of extreme weather events like floods, drought, storms and melting of glaciers and rising sea-levels. Spiralling population and urbanisation will only grow our energy needs in future, we must switch to greener and clean renewable sources of energy and look for ways to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. In the last two decades, we have seen the emergence of Wind energy as a leading solution to our energy needs and climate change, as well.
Wind energy harnesses the power of wind and using wind turbines it converts the kinetic energy of wind into electricity. To put in simpler terms, the wind turns the two or three propeller-like blades around a rotor. This rotor, connected to the main shaft, spins the generator to produce electricity. The creaky wind-mills in the farms which once were used to pump water for the cattle may be called as the predecessors to these wind turbines. Not only it is sustainable — unlike the conventional fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and crude oil which have been depleting at an alarming rate — but it is also among the cleanest energy sources as it hardly emits any greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. As the winds turbine do not need any fuel to operate, they are comparatively cost-effective too.
These winds turbines can be set up offshore or onshore. The onshore wind turbines are erected on land and have been serving the public since as far back as the 1800s when first onshore wind turbine became operational. The offshore wind energy production is relatively newer and involves erecting wind turbines structures on the sea. Offshore wind turbines can generate steady electricity as the wind and its direction on the sea is consistent unlike on the land. That makes it more efficient in terms of electricity production. However, the cost associated with offshore wind turbines transportation from their manufacturing site to their installation into the sea is prohibitively expensive. Most of the wind energy market is still dominated by onshore wind turbines and rapid research and developments are being made in offshore technologies to reduce capital cost, operations and maintenance.
While wind energy has become one of the fastest-growing clean energy sources, many have been protesting against it stating the environmental and ecological damage it does. Studies have shown that in regions with wind turbines, a high number of birds and bats become victim to the rotating blades of the wind turbines and they also interfere with some of the migratory routes of the birds. Some people find the mammoth wind turbines an eyesore and others complain about the noise pollution it creates. The offshore wind turbines during their installation in the sea produce noise which can be detrimental to marine life especially for whales and other mammals. These arguments, for sure, necessitate further researches in the wind energy sector and require an in-depth study on the ecological impacts the wind energy sector has on the planet and its residents.