6.6 Environmental impact of wind energy
Wind energy development has both positive and negative environmental impacts. On the positive side, the generation of electricity by wind turbines does not involve:
- the release of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases
- pollutants leading to acid rain or smog, causing various diseases
- contamination of land, sea or water courses
- the consumption of water – unlike many conventional (and some renewable) energy sources. This could be important if water shortages occur with increasing frequency in the future.
Large-scale implementation of wind energy within the UK would probably be one of the most economic and rapid means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Over its working lifetime, a wind turbine can generate approximately 40 to 80 times the energy required to produce it (Everett et al., 2012).
But wind power is not without negative (or perceived negative) impacts. These include
- electromagnetic interference
- aviation-related issues
- public attitudes and planning.
You’ll look at these in turn.