Concept has appeal, but wind power has problems

Article Excerpt

Wind power, like solar, is inexhaustible, However, it has unique problems that hurt its appeal. One key problem with wind is that it generates fluctuating power output, due to the variability of wind speeds. These can be as short in duration as gusts. But speed also changes from day to night, and there are seasonal and even annual changes in wind strength. In many areas, wind blows stronger in the daytime, when demand is lower. It dies down in the evening, when consumers use more appliances such as televisions, washing machines and dishwashers. Electric power can’t be efficiently stored—it must be used when it is produced to make economic sense. This variability means that utilities must maintain back-up power capacity or costly storage, equal to their reliance on wind power. This complicates the stability of a power grid; it creates difficulties in power scheduling and technical problems related to voltage control. Wind farms dominate the visual landscape and are unacceptable in tourist areas or…

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