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Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior


Module Code: PM 503 2T(SS3)
Class Group: Group Z
Module Title: Skill for Study 3
Assessment: Extended Essay
Assignment Title: Critically evaluate claims that
issues of technical inefficiency and cost outweigh
the benefits of wind energy as a renewable source
of power
Tutor Name: Kinga Maior
Date of Submission: July 24
, 2014

Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior

Critically evaluate claims that issues of technical inefficiency and cost outweigh the
benefits of wind energy as a renewable source of power.

Windmills have been utilized for at least the past 3000 years, mainly for grinding grain
or pumping water, while sailboats and sailing ships have been using wind power for
even longer (Achkermann and Soder, 2000:317). The first wind powered machine for
electricity generation was built in Scotland in July 1887 by professor James Blyth of
Anderson's College, Glasgow (the precursor of Strathclyde University) (Price,
2005:191). After Blyth invention, wind turbines have been used widely all over the world
for electricity generation as it can produce clean and reliable electricity power. Though,
there still exist several issues with regard to both technical and economic aspects of
wind energy that needs to be considered. This essay aims to explore the ideal that wind
energy is undoubtedly a future electricity generation method despite some shortcomings
of technique and economic efficiency.
Wind energy has a very great technical potential, about 20,000 109 50,000 109
kWh per year in comparison to the current total annual world electricity consumption of
about 15,000 109 kWh (Herbert et al, 2007:1118). That means wind power can
technically replace the traditional energy generator methods. In fact, a report from
European Wind Energy Association in 2011 showed that the contribution of wind power
to electricity generation capacity in Europe has risen from 2,1% in 2000 to
approximately 8% in 2008. This report also forecasted that at the end of 2020, the wind
power share of total electricity generation capacity will surge to at least 20%. In addition,
the development of offshore wind turbine technology has opened a potential wind
resource to set up wind farms (estaban et al, 2011). According to EEA Technical report
in 2009, offshore wind farms have inevitable advantages compared to onshore wind
farms, namely more powerful and more frequent winds. The report also revealed that
offshore winds blow 45 percent more often than onshore winds do, which means
offshore wind farms can create more continual power with smaller space used.
However, despite these potentialities that wind power brings, Achkermann and Soder
(2000:348) suggested that wind turbines still might have some problems in terms of
power control. This is mainly due to the fact that wind power is an intermittent source of
energy. This characteristic of wind power cannot meet the demand of electricity
whereby supplement must keep constantly. Nevertheless, a research conducted by
Hansen (2013:57) demonstrated two power control models for wind turbines that can
keep a constant rotational speed, namely stall regulation and pitch regulation. Firstly,
the concept of stall control is that the power is regulated by stalling the blades after the
Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior

turbine speed is achieved. As the wind speed surpass a certain value the blades begin
to stall, the rotational speed and the aerodynamic torque therefore dreduce (Hansen,
2013:63). Another wind power control method is pitch regulation. Pitch regulated wind
turbines have an active control system that can vary the pitch angle (the blades can
move around their longitudinal axis) of the turbine blades, as a consequence, torque
and rotational speed are decreased to keep the power generated constantly and also
prevent damage to the wind turbines from high wind speed (Hansen, 2013:66).
Another aspect in favour of wind power is that the modern world demands a clean and
safe source of energy in order to reduce greenhouse gages which cause the well-known
phenomenon global warming. A report from U.S Energy Information Administration
(EIA, 2004) states that the use of fossil fuel produces about 21.3 gigatonnes of carbon
dioxide each year, while the nature processes can only absorb a haft of that amount, so
there are still 10.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide are released to the atmosphere per
annum. At this rate, McKibben (2012) strongly believes that humanity would have to
suffer several natural disasters that were created by global warming such as El Nino,
rise of sea lever, hurricanes and so on. As a result, wind energy has become an
alternative to traditional energy source. It is mainly because of the fact that wind power
is clean, safe, widely distributed, renewable and it does not release greenhouse gages
during operation (Herbert et al, 2007).
Nonetheless, Achkermann and Soder (2000:351) recommends that wind energy is not
absolutely free of emission. The manufacture of turbine blades, towers, generator
system and so on, the exploration of land and material and the transportation of
equipment all base on fossil fuel which releases greenhouse gases. Even so, these
indirect emissions produced are trivial compared to other technologies. Wind power
plant produces 10 kg of CO
per GWh in comparison with 400 kg of CO
per GWh with
gas and 900 kg of CO
per GWh with coal fired. Another issue associated with wind
power is that wind turbines also create noise that can affect local people. The book The
Wind Turbine Syndrome by Pierpoint (2009) examines the ideal that wind turbine noise
can cause various symptoms. The study was based on an interview with 38 volunteers
from ten families who live near wind turbines. The result shows that numerous people
reported serious symptoms such as problems with concentration and memory, sleep
disturbance, vertigo, irritability, nausea, and Panic episodes associated with sensations
of internal pulsation or quivering. According to Pierpoint (2009), these issues were
caused by wind turbine vibration which might have a negative effect on human body
system. Though, the study has several limitations that lead to an unsatisfactory
conclusion. For instance, the sample size of the experiment is relatively small thus is the
lack of comparison with other group who do not exposure to the wind turbine noise.
Equally important, economic efficiency of wind turbines is an issue which has draw
nattention of many researchers. Due to several reports, it has been shown that the
ongoing technical process in wind power technology has undoubtedly leaded to
significant reduction trend in wind energy cost (Kubiszewski et al, 2010:225) (Lantz et
Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior

al,2012:5). To be more specific, a recent report carried out by Department of Energy
and Climate Change (DECC) in 2011 indicated that the cost which estimates of
generating electricity from wind farms (9.4 p/kWh) was competitive with fossil fuel (8.0
p/kWh) and even cheaper than nuclear energy (9.9 p/kWh). Offshore wind energy price
which is believed to be expensive was predicted to fall from 15.7 18.6 p/kWh to 11.0
12.5 p/kWh for projects commissioned in 2020 (DECC:2011). Additionally, it is a fact
that wind is a renewable energy source that means there is no fuel costs to produce
electricity. In contrast, although fossil fuel is relatively cheap, it requires fuel to
exchange in for electricity. However, fossil fuel source is limited and running out in the
near future. Subsequently, the cost of electricity generated by fossil fuel will surpass
wind energy in the near future.
Even so, despite the reducing price trend, the wind turbine technology is mature hence
it could be decades for the manufacturing cost of wind energy to be cheaper than
tradition energy (DECC:2011). Furthermore, as a consequence of advanced
technology, wind turbines require a considerable cost for maintenance. In details, the
maintenance cost for onshore wind turbines is estimated to be around 100 to 200 per
year depending on the turbine size (DECC, 2010:64). Notwithstanding, it must be
recognised that all forms of renewable energy are benefited from specific government
supports (Esteban et al., 2011:448). For instance, in order to reduce the UKs Carbon
dioxide emission, an increasing number of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs)
are purchased by electricity suppliers each year as the government demands (Mitchell
et al, 2006). Suppliers who have not met their obligations are fined and the revenue is
spread to those suppliers who have. Moreover, wind energy is also effectively
subsidised though taxation (Badcock and Lenzen, 2010). For example, other non-
environmentally friendly electricity generation method such as fossil fuel and nuclear
power are taxed for invisible cost, including health cost, climate change, pollution,
accident (Kammen et al, 2006).
Wind farm can not only generate clean and reliable energy but also creates jobs for
local people. A report published by DECC (2013:4) shows that there are already 35,000
long term jobs in the UK have been secured by the wind energy industry and more is
coming forward all the time. Besides, it is necessary to emphasize that most jobs
created by wind farms are guaranteed as regards safety and healthy due to the fact that
wind turbines do not create any emission during operation.
In spite of this, there exists a fact that installation of wind turbines may cause reduction
in local property prices (Sims and Dent, 2007:632). A study carried out by Palombo and
Hoen (2014:16) found that properties which were located within one mile from the wind
farm were 13 % cheaper than properties that sold in the same period but were located
outside one mile. The paper also reports that bid rate for houses near wind turbines
were notably lower than the rate in the same location before the wind turbines were
constructed. Nevertheless, further studies argue that the diminution in property prices is
not caused by negative impacts of the wind turbines in nearby areas but by an
Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior

anticipation stigma. A survey of a 20 km zone surrounding a wind farm in Scotland in
2003 (Braunholtz, 2005) revealed that only 7 % of the interviewees commended that
local wind farm has negative effects on the area; this is to compare to 20 % who
claimed that the impacts were positive, and 73 % who believed it had no impact at all.
Furthermore, in many cases, the stigma is only reinforced by the predictions of real
estate agents that lead to misguidance and the result is reduction in property prices
(Sims and Dent, 2007:632). However, in the past five years, real estate agents and
investors have begun to accept the data that wind turbines have no negative impact to
local properties and thus reducing the stigma on housing prices (Sims and Dent,
In summary, both technical and economic characteristics of wind energy have been
critically evaluated, conclusions can be made for these sides. Firstly, wind turbines has
limitations in power control and noise control, however with stall and pitch regulation
control strategies, electricity supply can be kept continually and there is no evidence
about effects of wind turbines to human health. In addition, the role of wind energy in
the global task of reducing both the worlds carbon footprint and its dependence on
fossil fuel is undeniably vital. Secondly, regardless of the low cost-effective of wind
energy, the current technology development and subsidies from the government have
made wind power competitive with nuclear and fossil fuel energy. Besides, properties
near the wind farm now seem to be accepted.

World count : 1775

Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior

Ackermann, T. and Soder, L. (2000). Wind energy technology and current status: a
review. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews, 4(4), 315-374.
Badcock, J. and Lenzen, M. (2010). Subsidies for electricity-generating technologies: A
review. Energy Policy, 38(9), 5038-5047.
Braunholtz, S. (2005). Public Attitudes to Windfarms: A Survey of Local Residents in
Scotland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Jul.
DECC, (2011). Review of the generation costs and deployment potential of renewable
electricity technologies in the UK. Retrieved 24 July 2014 from:
by-arup .
DECC, (2013). UK renewable energy roadmap: 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2014 from:
EEA, (2009). Europe's onshore and offshore wind energy potential. Retrieved 24 July
2014 from:
EIA, (2004). Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change, and Energy. Retrieved 23 July 2014
Esteban, M., Diez, J., Lopez, J. and Negro, V. (2011). Why offshore wind
energy?. Renewable Energy, 36(2), 444-450., (2011). Pure Power 2011: Wind Energy Targets for 2020 and 2030.
Retrieved 24 July 2014 from:
Student ID: 2150586 PM 503 SS3 2T Tutor: Kinga Maior

Hansen, M. (2013). Aerodynamics of wind turbines. Sterling: Earthscan.
Herbert, G., Iniyan, S., Sreevalsan, E. and Rajapandian, S. (2007). A review of wind
energy technologies. Renewable and sustainable energy Reviews, 11(6), 1117-
Kammen, D., Kapadia, K. and Fripp, M. (2006). Putting renewables to work. Berkeley,
Califonia: University of California, Berkeley.
Kubiszewski, I., Cleveland, C. and Endres, P. (2010). Meta-analysis of net energy return
for wind power systems. Renewable energy, 35(1), 218-225.
Lantz, E., Wiser, R. and Hand, M. (2012). The Past and Future Cost of Wind Energy.
Colorado, 13-17 May 2012. Springfield: U.S. Department of Commerce National
Technical Information Service.
McKibben, B. (2012). The global warming reader. New York: Penguin Books.
Mitchell, C., Bauknecht, D. and Connor, P. (2006). Effectiveness through risk reduction:
a comparison of the renewable obligation in England and Wales and the feed-in
system in Germany. Energy Policy, 34(3), 297-305.
Palombo, C. and Hoen, B. (2014). Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential
Property Values in Massachusetts.
Pierpont, N. (2009). Wind turbine syndrome. Santa Fe: K-Selected Books.
Price, T. (2005). James Blyth-Britain's first modern wind power pioneer. Wind
Engineering, 29(3), 191-200.
Sims, S. and Dent, P. (2007). Property stigma: Wind farms are just the latest
fashion. Journal of Property Investment \& Finance, 25(6), 626--651.