No, wind turbines are very efficient. They typically convert up to 50% of the energy in the wind into electricity. By comparison Victorian brown coal power stations only convert approximately 25% of the energy in coal into electricity. Each megawatt hour of wind energy generated in Victoria avoids the production of more than one tonne of the greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change. In typical Victorian conditions, each modern wind turbine will produce between 6 million and 9million kilowatt hours of electricity each year – equivalent to the consumption of between 1,100 and 1,700 average Victorian homes. The embodied energy in a wind turbine – that is, the energy used in its manufacture, transport, erection and operation – is generally paid back within just 6 months of operation. Over its lifetime a wind turbine will produce more than 50 times its embodied energy!
Like any large structure, wind turbines can potentially interfere with communication systems that use electromagnetic waves as the transmission medium (e.g. television, radio or microwaves links). It is possible that the moving blades of the wind turbine can sometimes cause signal variations, due to obstruction, reflection or refraction. These effects were more of a problem with first generation wind turbines, which had metal blades. The blades of modern wind turbines are made exclusively of synthetic materials, which have a minimal impact on the transmission of electromagnetic radiation.
In designing a wind farm site careful consideration must be taken by the wind farm developer to ensure wind turbines do not interfere with radio, TV signals and mobile receptions. Any possible interference problems identified during the wind farm’s design phase can be rectified by proper design and location the wind turbines or corrected at a relatively low cost through simple technical mitigations, such as the installation of additional transmitter masts.
With regard to compatibility and interference in telecommunications, it is worth mentioning that in many European countries, wind turbine towers not only do not create obstacles, but are already being used for the installation of aerials to improve communications, such as mobile telephone services.
Wind farms are popular with farmers because their land can continue to be used for growing crops or grazing livestock. Horses, cows and sheep are typically not disturbed by wind turbines and often use wind turbine towers as shelter from the wind and the sun or as rubbing posts.