The current level of wind energy use in the United States is just a tiny fraction of our total energy consumption. Why, then, has it become such an important and controversial issue? The answer lies in that wind power comes with countless benefits, including clean air and water, carbon emission reduction, job creation, and economic growth.
Like solar installation companies or those who invest in green technology businesses throughout the country know all too well there are considerable benefits to turning to green alternatives for your energy needs. Due to their decentralized nature, wind power provides a necessary alternative to polluting power sources that are relied upon for our everyday needs. As more and more people turn away from traditional energy sources, the only thing left standing is a reliance on fossil fuels that provide emissions galore.
However, with clean and renewable alternatives available, you can no longer be held hostage by the limitations of a fossil-fuel-based economy. Renewables such as wind are particularly suitable alternatives for tackling climate change. A recent study shows that the U.S. could quickly reduce emissions by 80% without costing any more than consumers spend today. A reasonable investment in developing clean energy sources, then, is an essential step toward cleaning up our air.
How Does Wind Energy Work?
You might be wondering how wind energy works. The giant spinning blades that you see on wind turbines make the power stick. The short answer is that the turbines capture the wind’s kinetic energy and convert it into the mechanical energy needed to operate them.
The process is simple and almost magical in some ways. When wind moves through the blades, they rotate. This motion sends a counterclockwise force through each blade, spinning the turbine. The energy produced by wind pushes against the turbine and keeps it spinning continuously on its axis. This turbine rotation drives a generator that converts it into electricity that can power homes, businesses, and even cars.
Principles of Wind Energy
If you’ve ever been around a windmill, then you know what goes on once a breeze picks up. You also might already understand how wind power works. However, for those who need a refresher course on the science of turning the wind into electricity, read on.
The basic principle of wind energy is an applied force against a stationary object. The turbine’s spinning blades make the power that the device generates possible. A lightweight rotor is connected to a hub through an axle that houses one or two blades. The produced energy is then used to drive a generator, which translates the movement of the blades into electricity.
The Pros of Wind Energy
i) Energy Sustainability. Wind turbines can be built using locally available materials and components, making them among the most environmentally friendly sources of electricity.
ii) Clean Electricity. A year yields on average 47% of wind power generation and 80% in some regions. These uses of clean energy also help decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce emissions associated with their production.
iii) Local Jobs. As wind turbines are installed in more communities across the country, they help create jobs while also providing a great deal of revenue to those affected by them.
iv) Economic Growth. The installation of wind turbines to existing power grids generates revenue for companies; these devices also help spur economic growth in communities where they are placed.
v) Wind is Free. Nothing gets you going like free energy! Electricity from wind is 100% clean and green energy produced at no cost to anyone for its use.
The Cons of Wind Energy
i) Expense. A wind turbine will cost you quite some money, and you’ll also have to pay to have it installed. The increases in your utility bills are expected to be worth the investment, but there is no way of knowing for sure.
ii) Limited Wind resources. When calculating how much electricity a wind turbine will produce, it’s essential to consider how much wind is available to turn the turbine’s blades. If you happen to live in an area that has little to no wind all season long, then you might be out of luck as far as energy is concerned.
iii) Noise. In some areas of the country, it is virtually impossible to build a wind turbine without disturbing the peace of nearby residents. Some municipalities consider that turbines contribute to noise pollution and other environmental problems, which can be mitigated through proper site selection and construction techniques.
iv) Interference with Wildlife. Birds and bats are often injured or killed due to colliding with turbines installed along the flight paths they take over human-inhabited areas.
Investing in Wind Energy
If you’re considering investing in wind energy, you need to know what you’re signing up for. Wind turbines can be costly to install and maintain, but their long-term benefits outweigh their short-term costs. Once installed, the turbine should be running for 15-20 years and keep producing profits throughout that time. Start by researching and finding out if you own any land that is a good candidate for placement. Next, learn as much as you can about the turbines themselves, and be sure to get in touch with your utility company first. If you are considering a wind turbine, then do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way.
The Future of Wind Energy
The fact remains that the development of renewable energy sources such as wind power has several benefits for both the environment and our daily lives. However, as with any alternative source, it’s essential to do your research first. It would help if you also considered the implications wind turbines might have on your property and b aware that not every community is ready to install a turbine or where it might end up being placed.
If you’re interested in investing in clean, renewable energy, then wind power might be the answer. However, it takes a lot more than just having a turbine placed on your land to start generating electricity so be sure to weigh your options.