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Social Innovation

Myth busters: wind energy

There’re lots of misconceptions out there about wind energy. From its cost to whether it’s actually harmful to the environment, we take a look at the top 3 myths.

The growth of wind farms across Europe is significant.

This increased use has led to its profile being raised. However, not all the stories are true and there’s a lot of hot air being circulated, so here we clear up some of the myths…

Myth 1: Wind energy doesn’t make that much of an impact on emissions

Wind is a renewable source of energy. When operating, a wind turbine does not produce any pollutants or emissions. The University of Edinburgh in Scotland has found that power generated by wind farms “prevented the creation of almost 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as coal and gas, in a six-year period.” It went on to explain that this is equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

Myth 2: Wind power is really expensive

There are two elements to this – firstly, the cost of putting up the wind turbine and secondly, the cost to the consumer. On average the cost of construction for a wind turbine is fully recuperated in 3 to 6 months, and from then on operational costs are minimal. As for cost to the consumer, Wind Europe claims that wind energy is one of the cheapest forms of energy and it is certainly the most cost-effective climate change mitigation technology. In 2014, the impact of onshore wind subsidies on bills in the UK was less than 10 pence a day for the average household. These subsidies are set to disappear from April 2019, so the reality is that wind power is nowhere near as expensive as some people think. More importantly, wind power is likely to become even more efficient in the coming years.

Myth 3: Wind turbines are as loud as helicopters

There’s not really much to say about this other than, they aren’t! Although wind turbines are not totally silent, you would have to be within a couple of hundred metres, and not have any other surrounding noise, to be able to hear them. Most wind turbines are at least 300 meters away from residential properties. At this distance, the sound will be around 43 decibels. The average fridge, babbling brook or computer all run at about 40 decibels. A typical library is also around 40 decibels.  Conversely, a helicopter at 30 metres altitude is about 100 decibels which is 64 times as loud!  

So, from now on, when you hear someone talking about how wind energy isn’t actually great for the environment or it’s too expensive or unbearably loud, you’ll have the real facts to bust that myth!