The Benefits of Wind Turbines

Wind turbines, made up of two or three propeller-type blades mounted around a large rotor, resemble large fans mounted on towers.

Decreased Air Pollution

The rotor is connected to a main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity. When placed 100 feet or more above the ground, the turbines take advantage of fast winds to spin the blades and capture energy. The turbines can produce energy for individual homes or businesses, or they can be attached to the electrical grid to create energy for more widespread use.

Wind turbines are emissions-free, which means they do not contribute to air pollution. Unlike production of other forms of energy, wind turbines do not create any byproducts that can damage to the environment.

Traditional power plants emit a variety of harmful substances into the air such as heavy metals, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. These substances cause acid rain, which can damage property, adversely affect the food supply and consequently cause harm to humans. Meanwhile, usage of traditional forms of energy generates carbon dioxide, believed to be a cause of global warming. Therefore, increased use of wind turbines could potentially reduce climate change.

Air pollution from traditional fossil fuels is also a known cause of respiratory disease. Increased use of wind turbines would lead to less air pollution, which would reduce respiratory disease and decrease health care costs spent to treat such conditions.

No Hazardous Waste

Wind turbines do not produce the hazardous waste that fossil fuels and nuclear power plants create. Obtaining coal, oil and gas from the ground causes environmental damage through the extraction and transportation of these fuels. Nuclear power plants produce energy from heat and create highly radioactive byproducts. Because nuclear byproducts are extremely dangerous to humans and wildlife, storage of this spent nuclear fuel requires high levels of security and maintenance.

Less Environmental Impact

While the use of wind energy does have an impact on the environment, those effects are generally not considered as great a concern as global warming, water pollution or air pollution. The effects include minor erosion--mostly preventable through proper landscaping--and bird or bat collisions.

Increased Public Support

In the past, the general public was skeptical of wind turbines for aesthetic reasons, including noise pollution and flickering shadows caused by the rotating blades. However, most of those problems have been eliminated or greatly reduced. In fact, research conducted in the United Kingdom and Spain found that once turbines were installed and working in an area, local support increased and the population favored the use of wind energy.

Unlimited Availability

Wind is a renewable energy source--unlike fossil fuels, which are an exhaustible source of energy. As a result, large numbers of wind turbines could reduce dependence on other energy sources, providing a more dependable source of energy in the long term.

Reduced Cost

Wind energy is much less expensive than other sources of energy. While the cost of residential energy averages over 12 cents per kilowatt hour, the average cost of wind energy is just five to six cents per kilowatt hour.

About the Author

Kendall Olsen has been writing for more than 20 years She is a University of Missouri-St. Louis Gateway Writing Project Fellow and has published instructional materials with the McDonald Publishing Company. Olsen holds an Ed.S. in educational technology, an M.Ed. in secondary English curriculum and instruction, a B.S. in elementary education and a B.A. in art history.