Windfall: A Different Perspective of Wind Energy

There is no doubt that we need to substitute fossil fuels with renewables. Together with solar power, the wind can be one of the major solutions to fulfill our future energy requirements. Its biggest advantage is that it is not only an environmental friendly energy source, but that it is commercially competitive.

But what is wind power and what are the advantages of wind energy? Wind power uses the wind force to boost giant windmills to generate electricity. What could be a better solution in windy areas?

Recognizing the potential of wind energy, countries worldwide are investing in the creation of wind farms, where the wind turbines are connected to the electric power transmission network.

The windmills can be placed onshore or offshore. The offshore ones are steadier and stronger, but the cost of construction and maintenance is higher. However, they have less visual impact on the natural landscape. On the other hand, onshore wind farms are cheaper. However, there has also been criticism of wind. Why?

wind-energyThe Dark Side of Wind Energy

That is the main issue behind the documentary “Windfall”. The film was released in 2010 and caught people’s attention by focusing on the dark side of wind energy. The story is about Meredith, a town in upstate New York. When faced with the plan for a wind farm, the locals initially reacted positively: wind power is sustainable, produces no air pollution and even reduces the United States dependency on foreign energy sources.

What they didn’t expect was that the 40 industrial wind turbines cause havoc. You don’t’ believe it? Watch the trailer of “Windfall” and listen to some complaints of Meredith’s residents.

As the video shows, the wind turbines were installed too close to the residents’ houses. Put yourself in the community’s position, and imagine waking up and going to sleep with the sound of a 391 foot windmill, spinning at 150 miles for an hour. “We are not against renewable sources of energy, we’re against these monstrosities”, argues one citizen. “Windfall” calls for planners to take the needs of the local population into consideration.

A few years ago, Meredith used to be surrounded by agricultural land. When the companies arrived, farmers were seduced by great offers for their plots. What they didn’t expect was that they would put huge wind turbines on their lands. The sale caused some discomfort among the neighbors and people even started blaming each other for selling off their farms.

How did Laura Israel Discover Meredith?

The documentary was directed and produced by Laura Israel and has a beautiful style that uses strong images. But how did she find out about the Meredith story? Laura Israel is a video and commercial editor in New York. After reading some articles about wind energy, she started thinking about supporting a green movement and investing in green energy.

So, she decided to look on the internet and found some people complaining. Later, while working on a TV piece on green energy, she told a colleague that maybe he should do more research in order to show not only the point in favor of wind energy, but also its disadvantages. He yelled back at her: “Do you want a nuclear plant?” and Laura Israel realized that she had touched upon an interesting subject. So she decided to do a little more research and eventually discovered the case of Meredith. “These are not the 50 feet windmills of Don Quixote. These are 400 feet high”, she stated. After that it was only a matter of time until she decided to work on her first documentary.

The film received an ambivalent critique: some recognize its geniality and congratulated “Windfall” for giving a new perspective, showing that even renewable energy can be harmful, if we only think about profit. Others considered the documentary to be biased and said that it distorted the case for wind energy.

Reacting to critics, Laura Israel answered that she just wants people to be informed before making any decision, arguing that wind power can indeed be a really good source of energy, but we need to be smart about it.


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Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan is a staunch solar promoter, serial entrepreneur & management consultant. He has a decade of experience in solar PV, disruptive technologies and political consultancy in USA and India. He believes that development of solar and other renewable technologies is critical to India's energy security. Gayrajan holds a Masters and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from USA. Follow him on Twitter to gain daily industry insights.
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