Welcome to Part Two of our series aimed at informing people on the benefits of wind energy. Today, we’re going to address several of the common myths people hear about wind power and give you the facts.
Myth #1: Wind energy isn’t reliable.
Yes, it’s true that the wind doesn’t blow all of the time, which means that wind energy isn’t generated at all hours of every day. But it doesn’t need to. That’s because — just like all sources of energy — wind energy is one of various energy resources feeding into the nation’s overall electricity grid. Every hour of the day, the grid balances inputs from the various energy sources with the fluctuating demand in energy consumption.
The US power grid is very good at dealing with variability from all of its electricity generating sources. Traditional power plants can trip off-line without notice. And electricity demand on the system also changes throughout the day. But the power grid accommodates all of this. And, changes in the wind — and thus wind energy production — are more predictable than many other forms of energy, making it a reliable energy resource.
Wind supplies up to 40 percent of electric power in Denmark, parts of Spain and Northern Germany — without any reliability issues. Wind power also supplies more than 30 percent of electric power in Iowa and South Dakota.
Myth #2: Wind energy is expensive
After dropping by almost 70 percent in the past decade, the average cost of wind power is now about 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour. That cost is competitive with all conventional forms of energy generation (e.g., coal, gas, and oil).
And an invaluable advantage of that cost is that it is stable. Wind energy is sold at a fixed price over a long period of time. Its fuel — the wind — is free and doesn’t fluctuate wildly like fuel costs for traditional sources of energy.
Meanwhile, experts believe that by 2030, continued research and development could cut the current cost of wind energy in half.
Myth #3: Wind turbines are noisy
Modern wind turbines make very little sound.
Wind turbines from decades ago could be noisier, but continued development of turbines has significantly lowered the sound they produce. Sound levels from wind turbines at 440 yards away is about 40 decibels, lower than the sound produced by your home’s refrigerator, and this distance is much shorter than the majority of wind turbine setback requirements.
Newer wind turbine rotors turn slower and are mounted in front of the tower, not behind it — both of which lower the sound they produce. Local regulations also require wind farm developers to address any sound issues by installing the wind towers a minimum distance from homes and public roads.
The wind industry continues research and development to make turbines even quieter than they are today.
Myth #4: Wind turbines impact human health
A less common myth is that wind turbines can cause hearing or other health problems. Some myths suggest that low-frequency sounds from the turbines or even the “shadow flicker” — caused by sunlight flickering through the turbine blades — can cause health problems.
A number of scientific studies have analyzed these potential issues. None of them have found that wind turbines caused any health problems.
Myth #5: Wind turbines kill large numbers of birds
There’s no question that birds can strike wind turbines. While it’s difficult to pinpoint a precise number, recent studies say that collisions with land-based turbines occur from anywhere between 140,000 to 328,000 birds in the U.S. per year.
The wind energy industry takes wildlife impacts very seriously. Improvements in turbine design and more careful study of where to locate turbines have significantly lowered the rate of bird impacts over the past two decades.
Several recent studies have shown that climate change is by far the number one threat to birds and all wildlife. That’s why numerous avian protection groups promote renewable wind power as one of the leading answers to reducing our dependence on climate change-causing fossil fuels. One study estimated that the number of birds killed per gigawatt hour of electricity was 0.27 for wind turbines — and 9.4 for fossil-fueled power plants.
ENGIE US Wind is proud to support local landowners, communities, and businesses as we expand our sustainable energy offerings and continue to promote wind as a renewable energy resource. In October of 2018, we started construction of our East Fork Wind Project in northwest Kansas, near the city of Colby. The $228 million project is the second phase of the larger Solomon Forks Wind Project, just west of the East Fork project.
The East Fork Wind Project will provide clean energy to Brown-Forman Corporation under a power purchase agreement. The project will also provide significant economic benefits to the Colby community, including annual payments to landowners, payments in lieu of taxes to Thomas County, new local jobs, donations to local schools, and the establishment of a scholarship fund at Colby Community College.
If you’re interested in exploring more of ENGIE US Wind projects, click here for all ongoing project information.
If you’re ready to implement wind energy, have any questions, or just want to chat further, contact us here.