Wind is a clean energy source. It produces no air or water pollution because it does not burn fuel to generate electricity. The most serious environmental impact from wind energy may be its effect on bird and bat mortality. Wind turbine design has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades to reduce this impact. Turbine blades are now solid, so there are no lattice structures that entice birds to perch. In addition, the blades’ surface area is much larger, so they do not have to spin as fast to generate power. Slower-moving blades mean fewer bird collisions.
Wind power plants create little disruption to local ecosystems. Utility-scale wind power plants built on open terrain require about 60 acres per megawatt of installed capacity. But, according to the American Wind Energy Association, only about 5% of this area is needed for the actual turbines and other equipment. The rest of the land can be used for other purposes like farming and ranching.
Pros and cons of wind as an energy source
|Little disruption of ecosystems|
|Relatively high output|
|Profitable for landowners|
|Output is proportional to wind speed|
|Not feasible for all geographic locations|
|High initial and ongoing costs|
|Extensive land use|
|Threat to wildlife|
|Noise and visual pollution|