Renewable Energy – Facts and Fiction

by Rachel Cunningham

False: “Wind turbines work like a fan.”

Fact: Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. Wind turns the propeller-like blades of a turbine around a rotor, which spins a generator, which creates electricity.

False: “Wind turbines cause major oil spillages.”

Fact: A small amount of oil is used in the generators and to keep parts, such as the gearboxes, lubricated but that is the extent of its use.

False: “Ireland isn’t sunny enough for solar panels.”

Fact: You don’t necessarily need the sun hitting hard for solar panels to work. Although they produce more power on a sunny day, they can still produce a considerable amount of energy when it is cloudy. 

False: “Wind turbines kill birds.”

Fact: While some birds are unfortunately killed by colliding with wind turbines, building windows, cats, electricity wires and vehicles are each associated with significantly higher annual bird mortality rates than wind turbines.

False: “Installing solar panels is a waste of time if it doesn’t cover 100 per cent of my power.”

Fact: While rooftop solar cannot typically offset your entire electricity bill, it usually decreases your monthly costs even though you’re using the same amount of energy because customers purchase less electricity from their utility.

False: “Wind turbines are harmful to human health.”

Fact: This area has been extensively researched by credible peer-reviewed scientists and, through the cataloguing of Professor Simon Chapman, Sydney University Medical School, it can be noted that 25 individual studies from across the globe have all reached the same conclusion that wind energy is not harmful to human health. In fact, because wind power displaces emissions of air pollutants and toxic materials, the World Health Organisation has stated that it will have “positive health benefits”.

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