Why Is Wind Energy Not Used Everywhere?

Wind energy is a renewable source of electricity that converts the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical power to run electric generators. The use of wind power has grown substantially in recent decades, with global installed capacity reaching over 651 gigawatts in 2019.

With the growth in wind energy, many new wind farms have been built around the world. However, wind power still only accounts for around 5% of total global electricity production. This raises the main question of why wind energy is not more widespread if it is a renewable and clean source of power.

High Upfront Costs

Building a wind farm requires significant upfront capital costs for land, turbines, infrastructure etc. This can deter adoption. According to [How Much Do Wind Turbines Cost?](https://todayshomeowner.com/eco-friendly/guides/wind-turbine-cost/), the average cost to construct a 50MW onshore wind farm is around $65 million. Large industrial wind turbines alone can cost $3-4 million each. Additionally, [Wind farm construction cost](https://esfccompany.com/en/articles/wind-energy/wind-farm-construction-cost/) notes that in Europe, the average cost is €1,000 per 1kW of installed capacity. With multi-megawatt turbines, that translates to millions of euros per turbine. These high costs make it difficult for wind energy to compete with conventional sources like coal and gas without government incentives. However, as [Cost Analysis of the United States’ Land-Based Wind Energy](http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2020/ph240/davis1/) points out, the initial investment is offset over the 20-30 year lifespan of a turbine.

Intermittent Power

Wind power is intermittent and unreliable. Energy output depends on wind conditions and varies throughout the day and seasons. This makes it hard to integrate into the grid. As the industry brief from Infinite Global states, “The industry and technology are adapting, for instance, to the challenges of intermittent wind power generation, by developing new hybrid projects.”

CrossWindHKN is also working to address the intermittency issue: “CrossWind is taking solid steps to address the challenges of intermittent wind power by delivering ground-breaking, state-of-the-art innovations, together with key partners.”

Land Requirements

Wind farms require large areas of land. According to research, the land requirements will depend on the amount of generation to be built, the size of the turbines, and the number of turbines in the farm. Large wind farms can cover hundreds or thousands of acres of land. This can be difficult to find in densely populated areas where available land is scarce. There are also concerns over use of agricultural or natural lands for wind farms, as this takes away land that could be used for farming or conservation. Research shows that modern wind turbines require about 60 acres per megawatt of installed capacity. So a large 300 MW wind farm would need about 18,000 acres or 28 square miles of open land. Identifying sufficient available land with good wind resources is one of the biggest challenges to wider adoption of wind power.

Local Opposition

Proposed wind farms sometimes face opposition from local residents concerned over visual impact, noise, and impact on wildlife. Lengthy approval processes can hinder projects. According to an article on Canary Media, “in recent years, local opposition to wind farms in Iowa has grown significantly” (source). Research from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law found that “since 2015, objections to proposed wind projects have led regulators to cancel or restrict nearly 300 megawatts of planned wind capacity” in Iowa.

local residents concerned about noise and visual impact of wind turbines

A key driver seems to be the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories online, which shape public perceptions. As reported in The New Republic, ” viral memes have paired familiar rural imagery with anti-wind messaging in an effort to turn Iowans against the towering turbines” (source). Overcoming misconceptions with facts and outreach will be important for siting new projects.

Grid Connection Issues

Good wind sites are often remote. Connecting new wind farms to the grid can be technically challenging and costly over long distances. Upgrades may be needed. As the Connecting Wind Farms to Grid: Technical Challenges and Opportunities presentation explains, transmission lines must be built to bring the power to load centers. The grid also needs to be upgraded to handle intermittent wind power flowing into the system.

According to a study on connecting wind farms to the grid from Chalmers University (Evaluation of the DFIG Wind Turbine Built-in Model in PSS/E), wind farms often require expensive transmission lines, power electronics, and grid reinforcements. Utilities may need to invest in technologies like battery storage to smooth out the variable power. All of this can drive up costs and feasibility.


While wind energy is rapidly growing as a renewable energy source, other alternatives like solar energy may be more viable or cost-effective in some locations. Climate, geography, and local resources play a key role in determining the viability of wind versus other renewable options. Research comparing wind and solar finds that location is critical when evaluating feasibility and environmental impacts [1]. For example, solar power may be better suited to sunny, arid climates like the American southwest. Wind power requires sufficient average wind speeds, making windy plains or coastlines ideal. Both wind and solar can have tradeoffs in terms of land use, wildlife impacts, upfront costs, and grid integration. Local and regional analyses help determine optimal renewable energy portfolios based on environmental factors, electricity demand, policies, and incentives [2].

Policies and Incentives

The growth of wind power relies on government policies, incentives, and regulations which vary greatly by region and over time The wind energy global value chain localisation and …. This creates uncertainty and inconsistent market conditions for investors and developers. Countries with strong policy support like renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, tax credits, and other incentives have seen dramatic growth in wind power. But changes in political priorities and policies can hamper further deployment. Policy instability has halted growth in some markets. Effective policies must provide long-term certainty and support to create a stable investment environment. Governments play a crucial role in facilitating wind energy growth through consistent, transparent and favorable policies.

Technological Improvements

Ongoing innovations in wind turbine technology are helping to improve efficiency and reduce costs, which could enable wider adoption of wind power going forward. Researchers are exploring a variety of new concepts and prototypes aimed at addressing existing challenges.

For example, one area of focus is on developing larger rotors and turbines that can capture more wind energy. According to Ron Foster, CEO of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, “Fortunately, new innovations in wind turbine technology are making it possible to generate more electricity with less land. For example, some companies are now prototyping turbine rotors spanning over 720 feet in diameter.” [1]

Other novel wind turbine designs aim to improve performance, reliability, and reduce maintenance needs. This includes concepts like self-starting turbines, floating offshore platforms, and distributed wind systems. Researchers are also working on new materials and manufacturing methods to bring down costs. [2]

There are also efforts underway to address grid integration challenges associated with the intermittent nature of wind power. This includes advanced forecasting of wind patterns, energy storage solutions, and smarter grid management tools. As these technologies advance, wind energy could become a more viable option in more locations.


Although wind power offers a clean and renewable source of energy, it faces several obstacles limiting wider adoption globally. The high upfront investment costs, intermittent power generation, land requirements, local opposition, and grid connectivity issues present challenges. However, the potential for growth remains with supportive policies, incentives, and advancing technologies that improve efficiency and lower costs. If these hurdles can be overcome, wind power could play a greater role in a clean energy future and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Key points that limit the growth of wind power include the capital intensive initial investment, the variability and intermittency of wind itself, large land areas needed for wind farms, resistance from local communities, and the difficulties connecting wind power to electricity grids. However, government policies, renewable incentives, tech innovations, and public engagement can enable further wind energy deployment. With the right strategies and technologies, wind power has the potential to grow and provide a larger portion of the world’s electricity from a clean, renewable resource.

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