7 Advantages of Wind Farms Explained
Advantages of wind farms are; combined power generation, geographic versatility, relatively-high reliability, no greenhouse emissions, autonomous operation, land conservation, and job creation.
This article discusses the advantages of wind farms, as follows;
1). Combined Power Generation (as one of the Advantages of Wind Farms)
Wind farms can be used for combined power generation.
This is because they are comprised of multiple wind turbines that generate electricity simultaneously.
The use of tens or hundreds of wind turbines in the same location to generate power, implies that larger amounts of power will be generated from this combined production, than can be generated from a single wind turbine working independently.
The power output of wind farms may range from about 1,000 to 8,000 MW.
Because of the elaborate configuration of wind farms, they can be modified repeatedly to improve performance and energy efficiency.
Wind farms can be retrofitted with new technologies for better performance, and can be integrated with other renewable energy facilities like solar panels and wave power converters, to form a hybrid power plant .
The flexible and combined operation of wind farms implies that they have a higher degree of sustainability than standalone wind turbines.
2). Geographic Versatility
One of the advantages of wind farms is the possibility of locating them either offshore or onshore.
The choice between offshore and onshore wind farms can be made based on the suitability of each option under any given set of conditions.
This is an advantage because wind energy can be easily harnessed on land or on water. Although other types of energy can be harnessed offshore and onshore as well, the installation of such energy systems may be difficult or expensive.
On the other hand, minimal requirements exist for installing wind turbines at sea.
Offshore and onshore wind farms have their individual peculiarities and advantages for which they may be selected. Offshore wind farms can accommodate larger wind turbines, and have a more consistent supply of wind than onshore wind farms .
Onshore wind farms can be credited with having a more stable base for wind turbines to be installed, as well as being closer to the utility grid.
Geographic versatility between offshore and onshore locations, allows wind energy to be more accessible than wave power and other types of energy that are restricted to land or water.
It also reduces the limitation of wind availability which can affect installations on land.
3). Relatively-High Reliability (as one of the Advantages of Wind Farms)
Compared to fossil fuels, geothermal and nuclear energy, wind is not a reliable type of energy for human utilization.
However, compared to a standalone wind turbine, a wind farm is highly reliable. One of the obvious advantages of wind farms comes from their combined, multi-turbine operation.
For a standalone wind turbine, the risk of down-times in power generation is very high. This is due to the fact that the wind turbine has a limited capacity, may be shut down for safety purposes, and may become faulty at intervals.
In a wind farm, on the contrary, a fault in one wind turbine is not likely to cause a complete shutdown of power generation.
Although any wind turbine which becomes faulty can reduce the overall power capacity of the wind farm, the presence of other wind turbines implies that power can still be generated in the absence of one or few turbines.
Also, the overall structure of wind farms is more resilient and resistant to mechanical damage than single wind turbines. This can be observed in offshore wind farms, which usually have a compound foundation to provide structural support to the turbines. High resilience implies high reliability.
4). No Greenhouse Emissions
Wind energy is one of the types of renewable energy that can be said to have no greenhouse emissions at all. This places it above others like bioenergy in terms of potential to limit environmental degradation.
Various studies have analyzed the potential contribution of wind farms to greenhouse emission, climate change and global warming throughout their lifecycle.
The only stages at which some greenhouse gases may be released in the lifecycle of a wind farm are the installation and decommissioning stages .
Installation stage here includes the design and production of wind turbines, their transport to the site; and their mounting on the site. The decommissioning stage comes at the end of the lifecycle of wind turbines in the farm, when they are removed from the site and their parts disposed or recycled.
During the main process of wind capture, conversion and electricity generation, there ae no greenhouse emissions from a wind farm at all. This means that wind farms can be described as ‘clean’ or ‘environment friendly’.
With regards to the natural ecosystem, wind turbines also have minimal negative effects on geochemical cycles, biodegradation, the energy pyramid, and other essential biological factors.
However, turbine blades pose a threat to flying species like birds and bats , and efforts are being made to introduce new designs and installation methods to address this problem.
5). Autonomous Operation (as one of the Advantages of Wind Farms)
Electricity generation by wind turbines is a self-driven process that does not necessarily require any human intervention.
This is an advantage as it reduces the amount of time and labor that is invested in wind farms after they have been commissioned, and thereby reduces the operational cost of these systems.
Autonomous operations make wind farms less-susceptible to control-related downtimes.
Also, efforts are being made to integrate wind farms with artificial intelligence, energy management systems, and robotic capabilities .
Equipping wind farms with these facilities will make them even more self-sustainable, and will reduce the need for human intervention in their maintenance. Among the innovative changes that are being made, robotic systems are being introduced to help with maintenance of offshore and onshore wind farms, as well as with power transmission.
6). Land Conservation Strategy
Although wind farms comprise of multiple wind turbines and usually require large amounts of space, it is not always the case that these wind farms cause extensive consumption of land resources.
In fact, efforts are usually made to ensure that wind farms are installed in accordance with land and soil conservation strategies. This can be seen in the integration of wind energy development with sustainable farming.
Like biorefineries and solar panels, wind farms can be installed on agricultural farm lands . This approach ensures that the land is conserved and maximized by simultaneously using it for multiple purposes. It is also a good approach since most large farms occur in remote, rural regions where there are few obstructions to air current flow.
Integrating wind farms with other application, means that wind energy development does not always lead to deforestation, or occupation of natural ecosystems like grasslands and forests. As such, it reduces the potential impact of wind farms on biodiversity .
7). Job Creation (as one of the Advantages of Wind Farms)
The expansion of wind energy infrastructure has positive economic implications for sustainable development.
Studies have shown that each additional megawatt (MW) of wind power results in the creation of more jobs in the sector .
Generally, wind energy is responsible for millions of jobs worldwide. The increase in development of wind farms will increase the number of available jobs in design, maintenance, and construction; and will therefore reduce the rate of unemployment.
Advantages of wind farms are;
1. Combined Power Generation
2. Geographic Versatility
3. Relatively-High Reliability
4. No Greenhouse Emissions
5. Autonomous Operation
6. Land Conservation Strategy
7. Job Creation
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