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By PiousPublished 5 years ago 3 min read
Clean energy

The vast fields of wind turbines under the gorgeous blue sky always remind us of a feeling of serenity and peace. Given that, birds are not deemed to feel that way. In the US alone, scientists estimate that roughly 150,000 birds are affected: from being slashed to changes to customs/habitats [1].

However, these picturesque scenes are just the myths that those who have never visited the wind fields cultivate. Surrounding residents have continuously reported noise pollution problems (both above and on-ground). Plus, because it requires certain spaces between the turbines, these wind fields often occupy wide areas of flat land [2].

Accompanying wind turbines in clean energy campaigns are solar cells. These two inventions have one thing in common - both have very low productivity. The difference is that solar cells bear more environmental consequences.

The biggest problem with solar cells is recycling. IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) estimates that by 2050 there will be about 78 million tons of waste related to solar panels. These contain lead, cadmium and many other toxic chemicals [3]. They are mingled in glass, forming mixtures that are difficult to get either recycled or buried like a normal waste (because leaked chemicals will be injected into the soil and water) [5].

Rain, wind, and storms can also wipe solar fields out (which actually happened), spreading toxic chemicals into the environment. Of course, we cannot secure them.

There were many companies taking responsibility for recycling waste from solar cells, yet shortly declared bankrupt due to the economic efficiency lacking. Some other companies did not recycle but export used batteries to developing countries [4]. Tus, solar cell waste have never been eliminated, instead, they are traveling around the world.

Nevertheless, such problems are not enough to deny the role of these two inventions. They are just enough to prove that these are not "good enough" compared to traditional methods (and other modern methods such as nuclear power).

And which government wants to risk relying on "not good enough" solutions?

Asia and Africa countries such as Vietnam and Nigeria often dream of becoming Nordic countries, which is their legitimate right. They can't afford expensive toys like wind turbines or solar cells - at an average level. Rather, hydropower and thermal power are much cheaper and more efficient. They cannot risk cutting down on investments on health, education, and defense for such a dubious value (while not being sure if this actually works) as "protecting the environment for the Earth". If they insist on this, they will soon go bankrupt like solar recycling companies by going against market rules.

But this whole article is not meant to bring down wind and solar power. David Keith, a professor at Harvard, said that "the impact of turbines, for the time being, is not significant, but it will be in the future."

Another important thing: we should not think as if everything in the world had stopped. Both wind turbines and solar cells were recently invented. They will (and certainly are) improved to operate more efficiently and minimize the impacts on the environment, as there have been improvements to win turbines to reduce noise and harm birds. Productivity, recycling issues, and other stuff will surely be improved in the future.

However, in the meantime waiting for these two inventions to get improved and for scientists to find new solutions, we still have to use thermoelectricity and hydroelectricity. Because heat and hydroelectricity have been the main sources of energy helping us grow so that turbines and solar cells can be created.

Until the problems are solved, don't urge governments to convert clean energy as you wish. Because they not only have more heads than us, but they also have more problems getting on their nerves.

The world is just so complicated.


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