The indispensability of renewable energy cannot be over emphasized while the effects of global warming are staring the human species right in the face. The last decade has witnessed the most aggressive tapping of renewable energy avenues. Of all these nature’s reservoir, wind is considered to be the most generous and easily available. European countries have been the pioneer in wind energy generation thus far – with Germany and Denmark leading the wind energy momentum. European countries have invested consistently high percentages of their GDP towards the research and generation of wind energy.
So, when the voices of dissent emanate from the major EU think-tanks, it is time to introspect the viability of the wind energy. The reasons for the wind energy falling out of favor are not very difficult to discern…
Wind Energy & Conventional energy
- Across the globe, the average cost of wind energy generation is 75 – 95% higher than the fossil fuel energy generation
- In the developed regions (with respect to renewable energy), the windiest places are already blocked by large wind farms which leaves only the less windy regions and residential areas for wind turbines – which again increases the cost of infrastructure, rental and maintenance – while decreasing the output
- New wind farms are increasingly facing more opposition from the residents of a proposed wind farm site
- This scenario leaves the option of offshore windmill development – which is much more costlier than the terrestrial wind farms
- In the absence of sufficient wind velocity, large supplies of power need to be pumped in – and the cheapest option is open cycle gas plants which further pumps in a greater level of CO2 (and other GHG) emissions into the atmosphere
What this means?
This translates into a quantitative fact that wind energy generation is ultimately a much costlier renewable energy option and has a very insignificant contribution towards the reduction of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. According to a new energy report by prof. Gordon Hughes (U of Edinburgh)…
- 36 Giga watt of new wind energy power will cost 120 billion pounds
- This will result in only a meager reduction of 23 megatons of CO2 per year
- In other words, temperature rise could be postponed by an insignificant 66 hours by the end of the century
- Although the social cost of wind energy generation is much lower as compared to the conventional energy, the internal cost (O & M cost) of wind power is much greater than the conventional energy generation
The right foot / energy …
Lets take the fad out of the renewable energy discussions. Mankind has been unkind to nature for long enough to be at the receiving end of an angry planet. While we understand the climatic urgency, the economic summary cannot by thrown out of the window. The European experience is a great lesson for the renewable energy policy makers in the developing world…
Wind energy (with its annually increasing O & M costs) and decreasing efficiency (with less than optimal wind farm sites) needs to be brought to the discussion table. Wind farming needs to be economically as well as energy viable for all the regions in the world.
The figures from the ground zero need to support the notion regarding the environment friendliness of wind energy.