ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF WIND ENERGY
Wind energy does not produce toxic gases or contribute to the greenhouse effect; Nor does it generate hazardous waste. But some of its side effects and consequences require some attention.
The use of wind energy, like any other human action, inevitably affects the environment, and its negative effects are felt in the soil, flora and fauna of the place where wind farms are installed. But in spite of everything, these problems can be tackled and minimized through proper planning.
EFFECTS ON SOIL
The effect on land use of wind farms depends on where they are located: wind turbine fields in flat areas usually use more land than those located in highlands, hills or on foot of steep areas. However, wind turbines do not occupy all the ground. Approximately 5 to 10 times the diameter of its rotors must be separated (the diameter of the rotors includes the blades). Therefore, the wind turbines themselves and the infrastructure that accompanies them (access roads, connections to the electricity grid …) occupy a small area of the total of a wind farm.
On average, it is considered that in a wind farm requires between 4 and 20 ha for each MW of power, although the surface that a wind turbine occupies is only 0.43 ha / MW. But the soil under the wind turbines could be used for other uses: agricultural, pasture for cattle, terrestrial communications, hiking trails, etc. They could also be placed in industrial spaces, which would reduce concern about land use in areas of major natural interest.
IMPACT ON FLORA AND FAUNA
The impact of wind energy on wildlife, especially on birds and specifically bats, is extensively studied and documented. Birds and bats have been documented not only by direct impacts but also by changes in atmospheric pressure caused by the rotation of the blades. There are also alterations in their habitats.
However, it has been proven that bats are more active at low wind speeds. If we take into account that the profitability of wind turbines increases with the speed of the wind, they could be disconnected at low speeds with a very positive impact on animal populations without major economic penalties.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF WIND ENERGY
In addition to the impact on soil, flora and fauna, we must take into account the visual and acoustic impact of wind turbines. The noise generated by wind turbines is due precisely to the movement of the blades in the air. There is also some noise coming from the mechanical parts of the turbine. Whether this noise is more or less noticeable will depend on the design of each wind turbine and wind speed.
Emissions in the manufacture, transportation of materials, construction, maintenance and uninstallation of the wind turbine are also appreciable. Although the overall emissions are considered to be much lower than those produced by the generation of energy from gas or oil, it is still a much cleaner alternative energy source to fossil fuels.
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