5.4 Energy Sources: Wind Energy

Author: Junhao He

ABSTRACT: Wind energy is a renewable energy source that is clean, cost-effective, and pollution-free. It is generated by wind turbines through the process of converting the kinetic energy of wind into electricity.

Source: Canadian Renewable Energy Association

MAIN:

Wind energy technology presented a substantial improvement over the past few years. Besides developing an eco-friendly environment, wind energy is also known as the top rising energy technology as its total cumulative installed capacity of renewable wind was 237,669 megawatts in the world during the year of 2011. In Canada, the total current installed wind energy capacity was 13,413 megawatts during the year of 2019. Wind energy is displaying one of the lowest cost sources of reliable new electrical generation. This is demonstrated when wind farms are providing massive benefits for many communities around the world. In addition, as companies around the world shift away from fossil fuels, wind energy has the potential to create jobs. The wind industry within the U.S. invested over $11 billion to build projects and thus employed over 105,500 workers during the year of 2017. It is estimated that offshore wind energy will bypass onshore in terms of employment, by the year 2025. Currently, onshore still displays higher employment than offshore.

Wind energy contributes towards low-carbon economic growth due to generating many employment opportunities over the long term. Many farmers would benefit from wind energy since it provides a stable income and more importantly, it would deliver many economic benefits towards the community. A local resident who owns an area of land would generate income when the wind turbines are installed, developing a wind farm. In Ontario, the wind industry will add $6.2 billion to the GDP between the year 2006 to 2030 and thus, generate thousands of constructions, local services, and manufacturing jobs. For this reason, the development of wind energy can contribute towards major economic benefits in the long run. Another benefit of wind energy is that it helps to stabilize the cost of electricity by lowering the vulnerability to soaring prices and supply disruptions. This is illustrated when it diversifies the nation’s energy portfolio by not depending on one source of energy. For example, the human population will not rely on natural gas, coal, or solar since there are many options for energy due to the diversification of the portfolio. The operating costs for a wind energy system is low because wind electricity flows into the grid without being transported.

Nonetheless, there are several key challenges when installing wind energy plants. A wind farm can generate noise, impact wildlife safety, and visually impact local residents living near the wind farm; thus establishing negative environmental impacts over the long term. In addition, the high capital and variable costs needs to be considered when building a wind turbine that consists of operation and maintenance. During the process of a wind project, it can generate slight GHG emissions.

In summary, wind energy is still one of the most cost-effective and efficient sources of energy in today’s society and more importantly, it continues to establish many job opportunities for the community. This inexhaustible renewable energy source would continue to generate electricity while fossil fuels will exhaust one day.

RESOURCES:

Aldieri, L., Grafström, J., Sundström, K., & Vinci, C. P. (2019;2020;). Wind power and job creation. Sustainability (Basel, Switzerland), 12(1), 45. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/1/45

Canadian Wind Energy Association. (2020, March 27). Installed capacity. Retrieved from https://canwea.ca/wind-energy/installed-capacity/#:~:text=Continuing%202018’s%20growth%2C%20Canada%20finished,over%20%241%20billion%20of%20i Investment.

Canadian Wind Energy Association. (2020, February 20). Wind Energy in Ontario. Retrieved from https://canwea.ca/wind-energy/ontario-market-profile/

Hill, J. S. (2018, January 31). US wind Industry installed 7 gigawatts in 2017 & drove $11 billion in investment. Retrieved from https://cleantechnica.com/2018/01/31/us-wind-industry-installed-7-gw-drove-1 1-billion-investment/

Shafiullah, G. M., M.T. Oo, A., Shawkat Ali, A. B. M., & Wolfs, P. (2013). Potential challenges of integrating large-scale wind energy into the power grid–A review. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 20, 306-321. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2012.11.057

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