Wind Energy Drawbacks – Sep 2017

Wind Energy Drawbacks – Sep 2017

Coming out of EnerScope’s tour of Barbados, was the realization that the country is progressive towards Renewable energy. There was a large wind turbine constructed by General Electric installed in the 1980s for research & Development. The first of its kind in the region and it can be seen in the photo below (unknown date and source).

One outstanding thread was the fact that there was a large wind turbine constructed by General Electric installed in the north of the island in the 1980s for Research & Development. The turbine was the first of its kind and was attracted quite some attention. It can be seen in the photo below(unknown date and source):

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Image showing the GE WInd Turbine from the 1980’s

The first of anything is always challenging and this project faced its share of challenges. Aside from residents complaining of the noise created from the project, research surfaced that the noise was the cause of several illesses. The cost to efficiency ratio just wasn’t there to support the initial spend on the project.

The Wind industry is still facing similar challenges like:

Costs

Wind energy is expensive because turbines (several moving parts) are costly to maintain and efficiency to output depends on the strength and direction of the wind. Vertical axis wind turbines have been reducing costs but there is still some debate to the design that would produce maximum efficiency.

Location Location Location

Wind patterns strong enough to support energy generation are usually far away from urban areas which means generated energy must be transmitted back. Energy (like water) is lost through transmission from one point to the other. The larger the distance between the two points, the more energy is lost in the process.

Health Hazards

Wind turbines produce low frequency noise (below 20 Hz) which cannot be heard by the human ear. This happens when the blades pass the tower creating resonance. This inaudible noise has proven to disturb sleep which becomes chronic and is linked to cancer.

Fauna

Birds fly into turbine blades, causing death to themselves and harm to the turbine. Better site selection and GIS analysis plays a major role in reducing this.

Marcus