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Wind Energy


Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
The production of wind energy creates no air pollution and, if the turbines are located properly, has minimal environmental impact. Properly placed wind turbines are able to generate electric power anywhere the wind blows steady and strong. Wind turbines uses the momentum created by moving air to quietly turn the large blades attached to the shaft of an efficient electric generator. These massive wind turbines are about 260 feet tall and have three blades that are each 135 feet long. Generally, the taller the turbine, the better the access that turbine has to the wind. Energy is generated when the wind speed reaches about 10 miles per hour, and a speed of 25 miles per hours allows the turbines to generate power to the full levels of their rated capacity.


Wind energy offers a clean renewable source of electricity which is applicable in locales throughout the country and the world. Wind turbines consume hardly any resources in order to generate electricity; this includes not only fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal, but fresh water use as well which is used in large amounts in cooling process associated with power production from fossil and nuclear fuels. This conservation of water resources during power generation makes this technology even more attractive to inhabitants of drought-stricken communities in rural America.


As a homegrown renewable energy source, implementation of wind energy systems helps to contribute to national security in the United States. This increased level of security is not only based on a decreased dependency on foreign oil, but also the distributed aspect of wind energy makes the technology far less vulnerable to possible terror attacks. Traditional power sources such as nuclear or liquefied natural gas are far more susceptible to be targets of a terrorist plot given the concentrated and dangerous nature of their power generation process. Wind energy works to place our own energy future into our hands. Wind energy can be used by itself at high levels of efficiency or in combination with solar photovoltaic technology in certain situations to produce the desired energy production.


Estimated Cost Savings:
In today's current energy climate with rising coal and gas prices, and a desire for a decrease in dependency on foreign oil, new wind plants compete favorably against any new electricity generation source. Unlike other electricity generation sources wind power generates clean, renewable energy that is devoid from a future risk of increased fuel prices.


In rural areas wind turbines are cooperative with current rural land uses - crops can be grown and livestock can be grazed up to the base of the turbine. In addition to having minimal to no effect on current land uses, turbines can generate as much as $4000 per a turbine annually for farmers and ranchers through land lease revenues. 


The main disadvantage of wind power is related to the winds unreliability. Although careful planning of where to locate wind turbines can help reduce this inconsistency, some areas simply do not receive enough wind to support a wind turbine or wind farm. A single wind turbine does not compare with tradition fossil fuel based power production levels. This requires multiple turbines to be built, in order to produce enough power on par with traditional power production methods. Cost is still an issue for wind turbines, however many local, state and even some national government policies, as well local utility companies, encourage wind turbine development and offer incentives.


Regional Issues:
The main regional issue surrounding wind turbine development is based on the availability and reliability of wind in the region. Special consideration must be taken into account when determining locations for turbines to insure they are in locales which allow for them to be productive and efficient. Building wind turbines in areas where the wind is irregular or unreliable prove to be costly and inefficient.


Installation (Getting It Done):
On the residential level most dealers offer either complete ready-to-operate installations or the option to purchase direct from the factory and install the system yourself. The American Wind Energy Association has a list of small wind turbine equipment providers which will help you find a manufacturer that fits your needs. If interested in larger scale wind turbines or installing a large amount of wind turbines on your property it is best to contact your local energy provider and let them know of your wind energy production aspirations.


More Information On This Topic:

American Wind Energy Association - Wind Energy Basics

U.S. Department of Energy - Wind Energy Technologies

Wind Energy Development Programmatic EIS - Wind Energy Basics

National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Wind Energy Basics



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