Wind is a very well-known renewable source of energy used. Wind turbines are used to retrieve this energy and create electricity. Kinetic energy applies force to the turbine’s blades, rotating the rotor, which works to spin a generator that produces the electricity. Wind turbine placement experts choose areas with high wind frequency, such as coastlines, hilltops, and open plains. They come in multiple shapes and size with the most commonly used design being the windmill. However, to run larger operations such as mining sites, wind farms with high numbers of sizeable wind turbines are required.

Closed Mines Repurposed to Wind Farms

The idea of constructing wind farms in abandoned mines is not new. Mine sites prove to be ideal for wind farms because they have plenty of open space. Making sure to communicate and reach out to the community is crucial in avoiding disruptions and noise pollution for residents. Communities need to be knowledgeable about the long-term reuse of the land to stay informed about positive changes. Additionally, strong working relationships with industry professionals are critical. As working relationships provide the funding and technical expertise necessary for wind projects.

With the repurposing of a closed mine as a wind farm, the environmental, economic and social effects need to be accessed.

  • Environmental Impacts
    • Provides a market-based incentive to clean up hazardous waste sites.
    • Wind farms provide a renewable energy source that is clean and non-polluting.
  • Social Impacts
    • Provides community benefit because of the potential to become local landmarks and a source of pride.
    • Community concern created about the noise levels and aesthetics associated with wind turbines.
  • Economic Impacts
    • Local job creation
    • Economic growth
    • Diversification
    • Increased Tax revenues

The Use of Wind Energy in Mines

Energy produced by wind turbines is an emissions-free source of energy, having fewer effects on the environment than other sources. Wind turbines don’t release emissions and don’t require any water sources. Although, they require more minerals to build than their fossil fuel-based counterparts. An onshore wind plant requires 9x more mineral resources than a natural gas power generation source.

The Negatives of Wind Farms

Wind turbines have some negative environmental effects. Catching fire and leaking lubricating fluids previously occurred, but is an unusual occurrence. Additionally, the large blades have the potential to kill or injure flying animals. Wind turbines require maintenance and access roads built, causing disturbance to the surrounding landscape. The production of wind turbines demands fossil fuels and the blades are non-renewable and non-recyclable. Although new materials are being developed to enable future recycling and reduced energy consumption.