Winds of power

AS THE world intensifies its search for reliable sources of renewable energy, wind power is gaining considerable attraction. Although the concept of producing electricity through ‘wind farms’ is not new, falling costs have turned it into a viable prospect.

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Published: Sat 5 May 2007, 8:11 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:58 AM

Some of the more promising experiments are under way in India, where robust economic growth has boosted demand for energy. In the past five years, the country has added about 6,000 megawatts of power through wind farms. Already the world’s fifth largest producer of wind energy, India hopes to add another 8,000 to 9,000 megawatts by 2012. With its moderate winds during the monsoon and vast tracts of exposed hilly areas in the southern and central regions, India’s natural strengths are impressive. Its technological prowess, too, remains substantial. An Indian energy company recently clinched the single biggest contract ever to supply wind turbine capacity to an American power developer.

The advantages of wind power are becoming apparent to more and more countries. Since the turbines do not produce chemical or radioactive emissions, electricity can be generated in an environmentally friendly manner. The ground on which the turbines are positioned can still be used for some agricultural purposes. Furthermore, if the turbines need to be taken down, there is no damage to the environment and no residues are left behind.

However, considerable concerns remain. Local residents complain the projects ruin the landscape and generate significant noise pollution as well as some slight electromagnetic interference. Some critics are not entirely persuaded by the economic justification. They insist that wind farms take up much more space to produce the same amount of energy as other methods. Wind farms, moreover, can be costly to maintain. The electricity generated thus becomes more expensive than that produced by other means.

As the industry grows, project costs are likely to fall. The other concerns could be addressed, to a large degree, by constructing projects away from population centres. With economics and the environment on their side, advocates of wind power can expect more attentive audiences.

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