BENEFITS : LOW ↔ IMPACTS : HIGH
Industrial-scale wind energy is often promoted as a clean and sustainable source of energy. It brings, however, many adverse impacts of its own. Of most immediate concern for communities targeted for wind power facilities are their size and noise, with the consequent loss of amenity and, in many cases, health.
People concerned with the environment are increasingly aware of the negative impacts of the giant machines and vast land-use required to collect the diffuse and wayward wind – as well the impacts of their additional supporting infrastructure (heavy-duty roads, transformers, powerlines) – on wetlands, birds, bats, beneficial insects, and other wildlife — both directly and by degrading, fragmenting, and destroying habitat.
Considering these and other impacts, the construction of industrial wind energy facilities cannot be justified in almost all cases, especially in the rural and wild places that energy companies typically target.
How much good do they do? The claims of reducing pollution or greenhouse gases appear to be greatly exaggerated. Wind is a diffuse and fickle resource that does not follow demand. Despite decades of experience and substantial installations in Denmark, Germany, and Spain, the giant turbines have not been shown to meaningfully reduce the use of other fuels on the electric grid — such as natural gas, coal, and nuclear — let alone oil and natural gas for transport and heating. Their ability to reduce dependence on or ill effects from other fuels is virtually nil, despite their tremendous size and sprawl.