Public Perception of Wind Power as a Source of Sustainable Energy - Benefits and Drawbacks

Russell, G Public Perception of Wind Power as a Source of Sustainable Energy - Benefits and Drawbacks. [Dissertation]

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This paper discusses the drawbacks and disadvantages against the benefits of Wind
Power as a source of sustainable energy.
There are many advantages to the use of wind turbines to generate electricity, especially
for large scale developments. These benefits have been identified and analysed with
respect to public opinion and awareness. The public, however, should be aware of the
downsides to the technology, and these drawbacks and disadvantages have also been
identified. A questionnaire which was circulated helped to identify public awareness and
opinion for the research.
Installation of a wind farm in the local area was investigated as a case study, with the data
from this also identifying strong points and weaknesses, and comparing these with the
data received from the questionnaire.
It was found that the benefits of the technology, such as carbon reduction emissions,
potential lower energy costs when compared with other sources of energy, appearance
compared to other energy production methods (such as cooling towers) and meeting
government targets do not outweigh the drawbacks by a significant margin. The
drawbacks of the technology were found to include initial cost, payback period, sight on
the landscape and the effect on wildlife.
Major worries regarding aircraft safety and radar interference were discovered to be
insignificant and manufacturers ensure no significant problems, along with the ability of the
specialised radar equipment.
Other findings were the lack of knowledge by the public with regards to many aspects of
the technology and the amount of information that is hard to obtain or appears to be
hidden showing true costs, embedded carbon and survey information for wind farm
The process of planning for a wind farm is complex and detailed, but the public are not
informed on much of the research and data unless they specifically request certain
aspects of it. For the technology to progress further and the benefits to outweigh the
drawbacks, more information needs to be made public regarding planning, manufacturing
and installation, and further acceptance of turbines on the landscape needs to be aimed
for. Continual installation of turbines will also ensure further efficiency advances.

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