Who Is Opposed To Wind Energy?

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of renewable electricity in the world. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the global capacity of wind power has increased more than fivefold in the past decade, reaching over 743 GW by the end of 2020. In the United States, wind power is now the largest source of renewable electricity generation, providing over 10% of the country’s electricity and continuing to grow rapidly. The U.S. Department of Energy projects strong growth for wind power, which accounted for 22% of new electricity capacity added in the U.S. in 2022. With advancing technology and falling costs, wind energy is poised to play a major role in the global transition to clean energy.

Fossil fuel companies

Some of the biggest opponents to the growth of wind power are fossil fuel companies, especially big oil and gas corporations. They see the rise of renewable energy like wind as a potential threat to their profits and market share. As reported by Inside Climate News, “Some opponents of the bill talk about ‘Big Wind,’ the same way people talk about ‘Big Oil'” (https://insideclimatenews.org/news/30032021/indiana-wind-energy/). There is evidence of fossil fuel companies covertly organizing and funding anti-wind lobbying efforts and misinformation campaigns aimed at undermining support for wind power.

For example, a leaked strategy memo from Canada’s oil and gas lobbying association proposed a plan to spend millions creating an “anti-wind” campaign and partnerships with rural landowners opposed to wind farms (https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca/entry/renewable-energy-canada_b_1507010). This demonstrates how threatened the fossil fuel industry feels by the growth of renewable wind energy that could cut into their profits. Big oil and coal companies see wind farms as a direct competitor and want to protect their market dominance.

Some utilities

Wind energy often threatens the business model of traditional electric utilities. Wind power is variable and decentralized, which shifts control away from centralized utilities to individual consumers and small power producers. Some utilities see this as an existential threat.

As one article explains, “Local and distributed systems fundamentally disrupt the utility business model… Reducing their monopolistic control of the grid does not sit well with [utilities]” (The Atlantic).

Utilities make money by building centralized power plants and transmission lines. But wind and solar allow consumers to become producers, reducing reliance on utilities. This can threaten utilities’ profits and influence over the grid.

Some communities

Some local communities have opposed wind farms being built near residential areas. This opposition often stems from concerns about noise, views, and potential impacts on property values.

Wind turbines can generate noise as the blades spin. Though modern turbines are much quieter, some residents worry the sound could be annoying or disruptive. There are also concerns that shadow flicker from rotating blades could be bothersome if turbines are sited too close to homes.1

Local opposition also arises regarding views and aesthetics. Some find wind farms visually unappealing and worry they will ruin scenic vistas or rural character. This not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) perspective values keeping the landscape free of industrial development.2

There are also concerns in some communities that having wind turbines nearby could negatively impact property values. Though research on actual impacts is limited and mixed, perceptions of falling home prices can fuel local resistance.

Some environmentalists

wind turbines in field with birds flying by.

While most environmentalists support wind energy as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, some have raised concerns about the impact of turbines on birds and bats. One study estimated that between 214,000 and 368,000 birds are killed annually by turbines in the U.S., with small passerine birds making up over 90% of the fatalities (1). Bat mortality has also been significant at certain wind facilities. Research suggests that proper site selection and mitigation strategies can reduce bird and bat collisions (2). Some environmental groups have opposed specific projects due to risks to wildlife, while still supporting wind energy overall as a key climate solution.


(1) https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2302313120

(2) https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/10/wind-farms-community-opposition/675791/

Some politicians

Some politicians, especially Republican lawmakers, have recently ramped up opposition to offshore wind projects. This is largely attributed to fossil fuel interests funding their campaigns and influencing their policies (Contrary to politicians’ claims, offshore wind farms don’t kill whales, 2023).

In 2022, Republican lawmakers introduced over a dozen bills aimed at hindering offshore wind farms through environmental reviews, prohibitions, and other roadblocks. Some claim offshore wind threatens marine life, despite evidence showing wind turbines cause little harm to whales. Their sudden criticisms of offshore wind are seen as politically motivated attacks to protect oil and gas companies who donate heavily to Republican campaigns (Why Republicans suddenly hate offshore wind, 2023).

For example, former President Donald Trump and other Republicans cheered when offshore wind projects in New Jersey were canceled in 2022. Their interests align more with fossil fuel companies who view wind as competition than with renewable energy advancement (Republicans cheer cancellation of New Jersey offshore wind projects, 2022).

Grid reliability concerns

One of the main concerns around wind energy is whether the electrical grid can handle the intermittent and variable nature of wind power as an energy source. Because wind speeds fluctuate, the amount of electricity generated from wind turbines also fluctuates. This can create challenges for grid operators who need to precisely balance electricity supply and demand at all times (NREL).

Rapid changes in wind power output can lead to an imbalance between generation and load if grid operators are unable to adjust electricity supply in time. This can affect the stability and reliability of the grid. Strategies like improved short-term wind forecasting, interconnecting wind farms over larger geographic regions to smooth out variability, and using energy storage can help mitigate these issues. But as wind penetration levels increase, more grid flexibility is needed (NREL).

Overall, studies show modern power grids can generally accommodate 20-30% wind energy penetration before major infrastructure upgrades are needed. But beyond that threshold, significant investments in transmission, demand response, and energy storage may be required to maintain high grid reliability as more intermittent renewables come online (Nature).

Military concerns

The military has raised concerns about interference from offshore wind farms with aviation radar and flight operations. According to an article on Wired, the military is “locked in a power struggle with wind farms” as more turbines are proposed near bases and training routes (source). Wind turbines can create clutter and false returns on radar systems used for air traffic control and national defense. Spinning turbine blades can also obstruct low-flying routes used for flight training and testing.

In a 2022 statement, the Pentagon said Biden administration plans for more offshore wind farms were “problematic” for military operations. They identified issues with flight routes and radar capabilities near planned projects off the New Jersey coast (source). The military wants wind farm developers to take steps to mitigate interference. This includes properly spacing and orienting turbines. But negotiations between the Defense Department and renewable energy companies are ongoing.

Aesthetic objections

One common objection to wind turbines is that some people find them visually unappealing or dislike the sounds they produce. The large structures and rotating blades can alter scenic landscapes, like mountain ridges, oceanside cliffs, and open plains. Studies show a minority find wind turbines ugly and out of sync with nature (source). The whooshing sounds from turbine blades may also bother nearby residents.

However, aesthetic tastes are subjective. Surveys find that most people consider wind turbines visually appealing or neutral. Their slender, kinetic structures can evoke graceful motion. Manufacturers now offer turbines in white, gray, or other colors to better blend with environments. Quieter designs also reduce noise impacts (source). Careful siting to avoid ruining pristine landscapes can mitigate objections. Overall, aesthetic impacts of turbines seem minor compared to their climate and energy benefits.


In summary, the major opponents to wind energy include fossil fuel companies, some utilities, certain communities and homeowners, a minority of environmental groups, and some politicians. Fossil fuel companies see wind as a threat to their business model, while utilities sometimes resist renewable mandates that reduce their control. Communities and homeowners occasionally oppose local wind projects due to concerns about noise, views, and property values. A small number of environmental groups oppose wind farms when they threaten birds or pristine landscapes. Politicians affiliated with fossil fuel interests may also impede wind power legislation and permitting.

Despite these challenges, the outlook for the wind industry remains positive overall. Wind energy enjoys bipartisan political support in many regions due to its economic development and environmental benefits. Communities are increasingly supporting local wind projects because of tax revenue, lease payments to landowners, and job creation. The wind industry will need to continue engaging with stakeholders and addressing local concerns in a responsible manner. If it does so, wind energy is poised to become a major pillar of a sustainable energy future.

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