There are several disadvantages of wind power which should be considered when looking at options for energy generation. It is important to recognize that although there are some distinct problems with the use of wind power, it is still a highly sustainable and very environmentally-friendly method of energy production. If the choice is between wind power and a fossil fuel-powered generating plant, wind power is definitely the way to go.
One of the disadvantages of wind power is that it is not a zero-emissions form of energy generation. A number of resources are used in the construction of wind turbines and an energy distribution system, and while generating wind power does not create emissions, emissions are involved in the maintenance of wind farms and other routine tasks which surround wind farms. However, the emissions created by wind power are certainly minimal when compared to the routine emissions of something like a coal-fired power plant.
Wind farms can also eat up land which could be used in other ways, which is one of the major disadvantages of wind power. Some firms have begun to address this by building turbines which can be utilized on farms and in settled communities. Older turbines, however, require dedicated space, and a lot of space may be needed to house enough turbines to generate a useful amount of energy. Wind turbines are also extremely noisy, which often leads to community complaints, and they can threaten migratory birds that are accustomed to having free rein in the air.
The production of wind energy is also limited by location. Areas with consistent high winds are best for wind farms, and land in these areas may be expensive or hard to secure. Wind farms also need to be located reasonably near the area where the energy is used, to minimize loss in the energy transmission process. Wind farms may not always be productive, either: prevailing winds could switch, for example, making the turbines useless, which is one of the disadvantages of wind power when compared to something like hydropower, which relies on a fixed resource.
Some people also think that wind farms are lacking in the aesthetic department. Wind turbines are not terribly exciting to look at, especially in a huge group, and local communities often oppose the construction of wind farms on aesthetic grounds. Power companies must often go through a complex permit application process to build, which can put a wrinkle in construction plans.
With all the disadvantages of wind power considered, there are some distinct advantages. Wind energy is free, and utilizing wind power doesn't have the same environmental impact as utilizing hydropower, which involves damming or making other changes in the natural environment. The turbines themselves generate zero emissions when they are in operation, and emissions associated with construction and maintenance can be greatly reduced by building and operating in an environmentally-conscious way.