This article looks into the hidden costs of renewable energy. As we bring this series which has looked into the hidden costs of driving, coal power, natural gas and nuclear power to a close, it was only right that we look into the hidden costs of renewable energy.
This is especially important at a time when the UK has recently opened the world’s largest windfarm.
In the 2017 work Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken, they revealed that onshore wind was the 2nd most effective activity to combat climate change and offshore wind was the 22nd most effective activity. So this is clearly an important arena that needs to be investigated, to see if there are any hidden costs.
Again, this article takes as its point of departure, the 2009 Hidden Costs of Energy study by the National Academy of Sciences.
Renewable energy has a number of advantages over its fossil fuel and nuclear rivals. Because no fuel is involved, no gases or other contaminants are released during the operation of a wind turbine.
However, their study did identify hidden costs in potentially adverse visual and noise effects, and the killing of birds and bats. With that being said, wind-energy plants do not kill enough birds to cause population-level problems, except perhaps locally and mainly with respect to raptors. The authors do caveat their study with the warning that if the number of wind-energy facilities continues to grow, bat and perhaps bird deaths could become more significant.
Another important outcome of their study was their finding that for the effects of solar and biomass generation of electricity, they saw no evidence that these sources currently produce adverse effects comparable in aggregate to those of larger sources of electricity.
What you need to know
This article looked into the hidden costs of renewable energy.
We looked into the advantages of wind energy, which is an exceptionally clean source of electricity.
We looked into some of the hidden costs of wind energy, which include visual and noise disruption as well as hazards for birds and bats. Overall, the benefits of this technology considerably outweigh the costs.
We looked into the National Academy of Sciences paper, which could find no hidden costs for biomass or solar power, which is even more reason to back these technologies.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
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