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How do Wind Turbines Benefit the Environment?

written by: Atula Gupta•edited by: Tania Cowling•updated: 5/27/2014

Wind Turbines are used to convert wind, a renewable source of energy to electricity. They are thus a better choice than conventional power plants that use non-renewable sources, emit air-pollutants and greenhouse gases. So, how do wind turbines help the environment? Read on for more information.

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    Wind Turbines Helping the Environment

    Wind Turbines have blades, just like an electric fan, but instead of using electricity to generate wind, the turbines do just the opposite. Wind rotates the blades, which spin a shaft connected to a generator and the movement leads to the generation of electricity.

    Thus, the kinetic energy of the wind is converted into mechanical energy of the propelling blades, which can then be used to do mechanical work like grinding grains, pumping water etc. or with the use of a generator utilized to produce electricity.

    Usually, to generate electricity on mass scale, many wind turbines operate together in a wind farm, forming a wind power plant.

    wind mill by Alex E. Promios When you compare a conventional power plant with a wind power plant, and consider the impact they both have on the environment, a wind power plant seems like a far better choice for generating electricity.

    Here is why:

    Renewable Source of Energy – Wind is fast moving air, present everywhere. It is renewed all the time as the earth heats and cools. It is a renewable source of energy unlike the fossil fuels like coal dug from the core of the earth and depleting fast. Experts believe that for every kilowatt-hour generated by wind one pound of coal can be saved.

    No Air Pollution – When wind is used to generate electricity, there are no hazardous waste eliminated into the air. Whereas traditional power plants produce harmful gases like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cause acid rain harming forest, wildlife and human health.

    No Water Pollution – Most conventional power plants release toxic metal wastes into the environment polluting lakes and other water bodies. These can accumulate in the tissues and are hazardous to the marine life as well as humans. Wind turbine farms do not release toxic wastes to the environment.

    No Emission of Greenhouse Gases – It is known that conventional power plants emit carbon dioxide, which is the number one cause of global warming. Carbon dioxide acts as a shield trapping the sun’s rays inside earth’s atmosphere and heating up the surface, just like a greenhouse. This greenhouse gas is therefore cause for alarm and not emitted at all by a wind power plant.

    No Depletion of Natural Resources – Unlike a power plant that requires coal to be extracted and transported using huge amounts of natural resources like fossil fuels, water etc. in the process, wind is available easily and naturally all around the surface of the earth. Therefore, it significantly reduces the use of natural resources, and also the cost, time and effort involved in the extraction process.

    Wind farms do use water to clean the blades especially in arid climates, but the amount is far less and non threatening as compared to nuclear, or coal power plants that use gallons of water for the condensing segment of the thermodynamic cycle.

    Minimum Use of Land - Wind turbines require very little land area. In a typical wind farm, only about 5 percent of the area is used by the turbines and other equipments. The rest of the surrounding area can be used as usual for farming, cattle grazing etc.

    It is thus clear that harnessing wind energy is a much smarter choice to produce electricity than thermal, hydro or nuclear power plants. It is cost-effective, renewable and most importantly environmental friendly.

    Image Credit

    Flickr photo by Alex E. Promios