Wind Energy: Developments, Potential and Challenges

Current Challenges in Energy
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At the same time, finite natural resources are becoming depleted, and the environmental impact of energy use and energy conversion have been generally accepted as a threat to our natural habitat. Indeed these have become major issues for international policy. Many developing countries and emerging economies have substantial unexploited wind energy potential. In many locations, generating electricity from wind energy offers a cost-effective alternative to thermal power stations.

It has a lower impact on the environment and climate, reduces dependence on fossil fuel imports and increases security of energy supply [3].

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Renewable energy, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat, is the type of energy that can naturally replenish on a human timescale. wind turbine. machinery construction is accompanied by a lot of challenges during both construction and (), the development of wind energy tec hnology poses a .. Gulf Coast region: relation to potential wind energy.

For many years now, developing countries and emerging economies have been faced with the challenge of meeting additional energy needs for their social and economic development with obsolete energy supply structures. Overcoming supply bottlenecks through the use of fossil fuels in the form of coal, oil and gas increases dependency on volatile markets and eats into valuable foreign currency reserves.

At the same time there is growing pressure on emerging newly industrialised countries in particular to make a contribution to combating climate change and limit their pollutant emissions. Wind power, after having been tested for years in industrialised countries and achieving market maturity, has a prominent role to play here.

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In many locations excellent wind conditions promise inexpensive power generation when compared with costly imported energy sources such as diesel. Despite political will and considerable potential, however, market development in these countries has been relatively slow to take off.

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There is a shortage of qualified personnel to establish the foundations for the exploitation of wind energy and to develop projects on their own initiative. The absence of reliable data on wind potential combined with unattractive energy policy framework conditions deters experienced international investors, who instead focus their attention on the expanding markets in Western countries.

It is only in recent years that appreciable development of the market potential in developing countries and emerging economies has taken place. This is attributable above all to breathtaking growth in India and China: these two countries alone are responsible for 22 GW. This proves that economic use of wind energy in developing countries and emerging economies is possible, and also indicates that there is immense potential that is still unexploited [4].

Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into electricity or mechanical energy using wind turbines. The power in the wind is extracted by allowing it to blow past moving blades that exert torque on a rotor. The amount of power transferred is dependent on the rotor size and the wind speed. Wind turbines range from small four hundred watt generators for residential use to several megawatt machines for wind farms and offshore.


The small ones have direct drive generators, direct current output, aeroelastic blades, lifetime bearings and use a vane to point into the wind; while the larger ones generally have geared power trains, alternating current output, flaps and are actively pointed into the wind.

Direct drive generators and aeroelastic blades for large wind turbines are being researched and direct current generators are sometimes used. Since wind speed is not constant, the annual energy production of a wind converter is dependent on the capacity factor. As a general rule, wind generators are practical where the average wind speed is 4.

Usually sites are pre-selected on the basis of a wind atlas, and validated with on site wind measurements. Wind energy is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions if used to replace fossil-fuel-derived electricity. The intermittency of wind does not create problems when using wind power at low to moderate penetration levels [5]. Most modern wind power is generated in the form of electricity by converting the rotation of turbine blades into electrical current by means of an electrical generator. In windmills a much older technology , wind energy is used to turn mechanical machinery to do physical work, such as crushing grain or pumping water [5].

Recently, wind energy has also been used to desalinate water. For further information on use of wind power for water desalination, see Wind Energy - Water Desalination. In wind electric systems, the rotor is coupled via a gearing or speed control system to a generator, which produces electricity.

Wind power is used in large scale wind farms for national electrical grids as well as in small individual turbines for providing electricity to rural residences or grid-isolated locations. For small turbines the electricity generated can be used to charge batteries or used directly.

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Larger, more sophisticated wind energy converters are used to feed power into the grid. Small turbines intended for battery charging have a turbine diameter of between 0. Medium sized turbines are used in small independent grids in hybrid with a diesel or PV generator. These turbines have diameters of between m and a power output of kW. Large wind turbines are normally grid connected. This category includes diameters of m and power outputs 0. This is the case of Andalusia.

In Sweden there are many tools for conservation; however, they are focused on conservation of areas, species of plants and animals the Environmental Code or the conservation of ancient remains, churches, other buildings, and place names the Heritage Conservation Act. In the environmental code landscape has lost its old meaning of landscape as territory and identity.

The everyday landscape is to a certain extent protected by general rules of consideration in the environmental code; however, many decisions and policies that have an effect on landscapes are not regulated by Swedish law [ 15 ]. There is a general lack in EIAs regarding adequate public participation, comprehensive overview of landscape impact, and stakeholder coordination [ 16 ].

There is no mention of the significance of the landscape to people and conflicts of interest often arise because of unclear or overlapping laws [ 9 ]. The Swedish Energy Agency has pointed out areas of national interest for wind energy developments. The assessment of these areas suitability was made primarily with regard to factors such as average wind speed and safety distance to housing areas with no concern to landscape character or public interests.

These areas are now being revised and the criteria for areas of national interest for wind are heavily debated. Unlike Sweden, in Spain, energy planning is the responsibility of the Central Government, although the regions play a very important role in the decision-making process. Local governments municipalities on the other hand play only a secondary role in the authorization procedure, which at times has resulted in a lack of awareness of project development and the absence of strong opposition to renewable power projects [ 17 — 19 ].

As for landscape regulation in Spain, the situation is similar to the Swedish one.

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In spite of the new laws, landscape impacts have only secondary role in decision-making process concerning wind farms. The process of planning and authorization in Spain does not give enough power to landowners and the general public in the EIA process. Information about projects and procedures lack transparency and clarity.

Whereas, the EIA in Sweden by some is understood as giving too much concessions to those opposing to wind power projects [ 19 ].

Although public participation in the decision-making process on wind power development has become a common procedure in Spain, due to the adoption of the Aarhus Convention and the ELC, public engagement is generally seen as a one-way communication with an end result determined in advance. The tendency towards a top-down, technocratic, hierarchical way of thinking about how the planning system has to be shaped, inherited from the period of centralized policies before , persists in Spain [ 21 ].


Public participation is understood as public approval or validation and consultation does not involve stakeholders in decision-making processes. Also, public surveys does not affect the decision making process. The siting of wind power schemes in Spain has not been decided at a local level, which creates an important contradiction between the intentions of Spanish landscape policy and the actual mechanics of decision-making processes. In spite of essential changes due to application of the ELC, which encouraged some Spanish regions to incorporate landscape as an important issue in land use regulation, landscape policies are still out of step with the development of renewable energy policies.

Uddevalla municipality is located on the Swedish west cost in the metropolitan area of Gothenburg Figure 1. The municipality has a varied landscape including forested highlands, fjords, grabens and mosaic landscapes. The varied topography and the, for Swedish conditions, high population density are challenges that the guidelines for wind power development in the municipality has to handle. The proposed guidelines for wind power development were at the start of the case study a result of planning guidelines excluding areas from wind power development based on legislative restrictions.

Meaning that areas with planning restrictions due to high cultural or natural values were regarded as unsuitable to wind development without further investigations as to if the present day status of these values were viable and relevant. Also, the possibility that not protected areas might prove more functional habitats or hold important recreational and social values were never investigated.

These guidelines led to that the coastal areas and the highlands were eliminated, leaving the mosaic landscapes in the central and eastern parts of the municipality open for possible wind development. Since the guidelines identified areas that both authorities and local citizens objected to this became the start of a discussion whether the values protected by legislative restrictions were relevant for wind power development in Uddevalla municipality.

The situation became very infected and affected the trust of the public in officials and politicians. Conflicts between wind developers and the effected public also increased as wind developments were proposed in areas with no restrictions for wind development. There were also no directives or recommendations regarding how to adapt wind developments to the landscape conditions.

Because of these conflicts there was a general need to evaluate the social aspects of landscape in connection to demarcation of areas as suitable for wind developments. Some officials suggested to politicians that a landscape analysis based on public dialogue and participation might redeem the confidence of the public and reveal an alternate strategy for wind development. The landscape analysis undertaken was in line with the ELC, focusing on illuminating the values resting with the everyday landscape as well as disclosing if the present day conditions of restricted areas were relevant in relation to wind power development.

The objective of the landscape analysis was hence to create a present day description of landscape functions and values in order to better socially anchor the wind power planning. Expert methods for landscape analysis such as Landscape Character Assessment LCA [ 23 ], Historical Landscape Characterization HLC and Structural analysis in accordance with Kevin were used to collect and present information on geophysical conditions, historical time depth, ecological functions, and to provide a basis for dialogue. These methods were combined and revised to fit the purpose of the landscape analysis.

After an identification of geophysical generic landscape types, walk through evaluations with the public were made in order to confirm the relevance of the description of landscape types and elaborate these in to landscape character areas describing the social functions as well as naming these areas in accordance with how they are referred to in an everyday context. An additional objective of the walk through evaluations was to discuss the ongoing force and pace of change as well as the landscapes sensitivity to this change.

The character areas that were extracted from the public input on landscape types as collected during walk through evaluations and were then elaborated in workshops were the public, officials and politicians collaborated Figure 2. This procedure created a collective learning process regarding the possibilities as well as difficulties with implementing wind energy in a specific landscape type and character with its specific social context.

The landscape analysis did not state expert evaluations regarding suitable and non-suitable areas for wind power development, but described possibilities and difficulties resting with the landscape type and character in relation to wind power developments.