As far as Ireland is concerned most agree Wind Turbines are one good solution for her need of alternative energy supplies and the necessity for independence from the tentacles of imported fossil fuels. The pacific coastal belt of Ireland may be suited well for harnessing this free source of energy. Incidentally it is the fastest growing energy sector in the world.
Following will give you some idea why you must pay more attention when setting up a wind turbine or even a wind farm.
These are the points in its favor!
From purely a personal angle you derive these benefits from wind turbine power:
• If you are living in a location where the wind velocity is 2.5m/s upward a wind turbine will provide you free (yes, free!) electricity for at least the next twenty five years. You can just imagine the savings on energy bills for this period.
• If you are living in a remotely located area away from the national power grid it may take a considerable time for you to get your connection (if at all you get it).It will cost you a tidy sum to get a dedicated power line if you are intent on doing that.
• Subject to availability of a reliable wind flow a wind turbine will provide you the benefits of the main power grid supply but totally independent and fully under your control.
• If you are having an animal farm having a high annual energy bill installation of a wind turbine will do the trick to get it cut down. Most of the animal farms and their feeding grounds are remote from grid power and providing power for water pumps, electrical fences etc may be a real problem. A wind turbine will provide you a sustainable solution.
• If you are retrofitting your existing home energy system Home Energy Saving Scheme grant aid will subsidize your capital cost. The BER system provides special credits for incorporating Renewable Energy systems when constructing a new building. (Both these SEI managed schemes are currently being implemented).
• The unit cost of energy is drastically reduced especially when special subsidies as above are availed. A small commune or the main utility provider himself may be willing to buy from you your surplus power.
• Wind Turbines need only a small space on ground. Most of the normal activities at ground level can proceed normally.
From a national and global perspective you get these benefits:
• Wind Energy uses wind as its fuel, a clean and free fuel at that. The fossil fuel burning Power Plants are on the other hand utilize, Fuel oil, coal, natural gas and others which contribute much to the out door air pollution and causes increase in toxic and green house gases in the atmosphere. These exhaust fumes also cause acid rain, a common phenomenon in the vicinity of large power plants leading to severe damages to property over the years. Fortunately wind turbine energy causes non of these.
• One can call wind energy a domestic source of energy as independent units suitable for small dwellings too are available .The sizes can vary from small to very large to suit your application.
• Wind energy is renewable. This is nothing but solar energy converted to energy of motion (together with a percentage due to the Earth’s rotation and Geological irregularities). The solar energy is renewed over and over and will be available during the full life time of the Solar System. In comparison the availability of fossil fuels for another 25 to 50 years is in serious doubt. (You know what happens to prices of commodities when in short supply!).
• There are many villages that are remotely located and therefore the economy (and the social development) seriously impeded due to lack of energy resources. Wind Turbines are a boon for these rural economies.
These are some of the disadvantages too!
• Let’s face it! Fossil fuel power generation has been the favourite for over a century. The technology developed in this regard makes it one of the low capital investments. In contrast the Wind Turbine technology really took off only during the last decade. Accordingly the capital cost is higher at the moment. (However utilizing grant aid and tax incentives now being made available by many countries the world over is designed to buffers this).
• Wind flow is intermittent. The in consistence may result in below capacity performance (or non at all) during certain seasons of the year. Interestingly in the summer when it is hot the wind flow is less while in the winter it is high (therefore being capable of generating more power).
• Storage technology of surplus power is still some what primitive and uses Lead Acid storage cells (which need regular maintenance). The effective useful life is about 2 to 3 years for these. Though newer space age technology has been developed commercial production is not yet on.
Therefore it may be possible that when the peak demand occur wind generated power may be not be available for you.
• Good wind sources are available in remote locations and not near cities where the highest demand is.
• The land used for wind farms may posses resources, processing of which may be economically more viable than power generation.
• Environmental concerns though minor have been cited on the grounds of
o Aesthetic impact
o Noise pollution
o Stroboscopic effect on the near by houses
o Destruction of wild life such as birds (though now mostly resolved through improved technology)
Wind turbines are here to stay. It has a major role to play in Ireland’s energy sector development during the next few years. Currently available grants and newly developed technology makes it a good investment for you too in the long run in your fight against rising energy costs.