Typical Challenges with Wind Energy
Wind Power has its own share of challenges. Challenges can be broadly classified into two categories: entry barriers and operational challenges. Given below are details of both:
High Equipment Cost: Wind turbines are specialized engineering design equipment which are typically very large and require high initial capital investment. On top of it, the commissioning costs are steep as well. However, in the long run, this is offset by the low running costs compared to the conventional generation plants.
Large Land Requirement: Due to the stringent spacing requirements, the large size of wind turbines and requirement of high number of grouping of wind turbines together; large area of land is required to set up an onshore wind farm. Finding such a large area with right geological and political environment is challenging.
Associated Infrastructure Development: Wind farms are typically installed in remote areas limited accessibility. So along with the wind turbine commissioning, associated infrastructure development like access roads within farm & for logistical connectivity to main roads, and transmission cables extension to nearest grid are required to be developed.
Environment Impact: There are certain environmental impacts like deforestation, birds’ mortality, noise pollution and visual impact due to wind farms. However, these wind power problems seem negligible compared to the ecological damage and pollution produced by extracting and burning fossil fuels.
Myth 4: Wind energy is an expensive technology with a very low return on investment
Though the initial costs with wind energy are high, we are in a virtuous cycle in wind energy where wind turbine costs are falling, deployments are increasing, and technology advancements are happenings. As per the report from IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) every dollar spent on sustainable energy transformation will deliver a payoff between $3-$7. [Source: GWEC: Global Wind Report 2021]
Wind Variability: Wind power generation solely relies on the wind availability. However, wind is not consistent, so the amount of energy produced by a wind farm varies from time to time.
Energy Storage Challenges: Due to the variability in the energy generation from wind farms, to take full advantage of the energy generated, advanced energy storage solutions are required. Energy storage solutions are not yet mature though there are investments and technology advancements in this area with hope of better prospects.
Risk of Natural Disaster: Wind farms are exposed to natural disasters like windstorms, heavy rains, thunderstorms, lighting strikes and earthquake which pose another risk in their operations.