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Wind Power

Wind energy isn’t a new technology, but it is growing quickly in popularity with the looming threat of climate change. This is because it provides better health for the earth, produces little to no emissions compared to traditional power plants that use natural gas and coal, and wind is a never-ending set of renewables. 

Wind energy isn’t a new technology, but it is growing quickly in popularity with the looming threat of climate change. This is because it provides better health for the earth, produces little to no emissions compared to traditional power plants that use natural gas and coal, and wind is a never-ending set of renewables. 

A single turbine can power hundreds of homes, so a wind farm with all of its blades running in ideal locations can easily power a whole community with its electricity generation thanks to wind and rotor power. 

Wind Energy

How Wind Power Is Created

Wind power is created by the wind. It is an energy that happens naturally, and is present throughout the world. However, the challenge was harnessing that energy and turning it into something we could use. 

The Benefits Of Wind Power

There are many benefits of wind power, windmills, and wind turbines. 

The first of them is the amount of jobs that wind power produces. Since technicians are needed in order to keep turbines running, and to build new turbines.

Already, an estimated 120,000 jobs have been provided for work on wind turbines, and it is expected that hundreds of thousands more will be available by 2050. Wind energy is a domestic resource in most countries, as long as the land is available.

This means that the need to make deals and pay for another country’s resources is reduced. This not only makes each country a little more independent, but it increases economic growth in that country. 

For example, in the United States, about 9% of their total energy comes from wind. The investments towards wind energy and new projects added around $20 billion to the economy. 

Wind power is not only renewable, but it is clean. Since wind isn’t a resource that can be exhausted or depleted, no matter how many turbines we put up, it is a source of energy we can rely on for a long time.

Additionally, wind and the movement of turbines doesn’t release any greenhouse gases, making it a clean resource. Wind is also cheap. The turbines provide some of the cheapest forms of energy we have available to use today, meaning it isn’t expensive to set up or rely upon. 

Finally, for the last major benefit, is that while wind turbines need space, they don’t need all that much space. They can fit in easily with agricultural or multi-use settings. 

The Drawbacks Of Wind Power

Unfortunately, wind power isn’t perfect, and there are some drawbacks to using wind energy. 

The first is that wind power doesn’t work everywhere. While islands, flatlands, and coasts are all great sources of wind, other areas might have less wind such that the turbines aren’t as effective, like valleys. This means that we likely cannot solely rely on wind power throughout the world. 

This often means that wind power is in places far away from population hubs. This can make it difficult to get power to where it is actually needed, like urban areas and cities.

Moving electricity a long way is expensive and causes a loss of power that may not make the transfer worth it. Turbines also make some noise, and are not very visually appealing.

So, even if a turbine can be placed near a hub, many people might not want the loss of landscape or the continuous noise, no matter how quiet it is. Turbines also affect wildlife. While they are still less harmful to wildlife than many other resources we are using, they are still able to cause damage.

Minimizing the wind-wildlife interactions by putting turbines in the right place and working closely with environmental research is important for future wind power growth. 

How To Harness Wind Power

Wind power is harnessed via large wind turbines. Usually, for mass energy harnessing, large turbines with propellers are used. As the wind spins the propellers, it generates energy. 

However, that is only the most commonly used way. Theoretically, anything that can spin or move due to wind has the power to generate electricity.

Higher up has the better chances of collecting wind, so many new designs are looking at floating or buoyant forms of wind turbines to get higher in the air and take up less land. 

How To Store Wind Power

Right now, there aren’t a lot of ways to store wind power. Though some are in development, most of the time, wind power goes directly into the grid to be used. This is unfortunate, as most of the wind power is generated at night, when electricity demands are at their lowest. 

Many people are starting to invest in the design of storage for green energy, however. It isn’t just wind energy that is hard to store, but most renewable and clean energy. 

In the last decade or so, though, storage has come a long way. Lead batteries are the current method of storage, as they are the most environmentally sustainable of batteries.

Additionally, the use of these batteries is helping to bridge the gap in areas near wind turbines and moving power to those outside of the normal range of delivering power. 

How To Use Wind Power

Wind power can be used mostly in the same way that traditional power can be used. It is a good source of supplemental power as well, especially if you are using a residential wind turbine.

Even before we found a way to harness wind into electricity, wind power has been used throughout history. We have used wind to mill grain, extract oil, to pump water, to fly, and even for recreational sports. 

We’ve now expanded it to include powering our homes, businesses, and daily life.  

How To Make Wind Power More Efficient

Increasing the size of the turbines so that they can catch more wind increases the efficiency of wind turbines. So does putting turbines in areas where the most wind occurs, and making sure the turbines are facing the right way. 

Many wind turbines need a pretty strong gust of wind to start moving. By making the force needed to spin the turbines lower, the potential for higher efficiency also increases. 

For both of these, increasing the rotor diameter can help. They can catch more wind in a higher atmosphere, and work at lower wind speeds. However, this can have bigger impacts on the environment and certain species and surface costs, as any group focused on animal rights can tell you. 

How To Make Wind Power More Affordable

Wind energy is already pretty affordable, and considered one of the cheapest ways to generate electricity. Traditional coal energy costs about two to four cents per kilowatt hour. Wind energy usually comes in at the same price or a little lower, averaging about two cents per hour. 

However, that is only after a tax subsidy. Thankfully, with the rising demand for wind energy, there is constant research and growth into making wind energy more efficient and cost effective. 

Making cables and power lines more efficient can also have an indirect effect on making power more affordable.

Since the power source and energy can be lost due to the effects of ineffective wires and output, creating a team that is focused on the science of efficiency and related parts can be a good business plan for all involved, as well as project a good image for those still a little nervous about wind energy. 

How To Make Wind Power More Accessible

Making even more efficient turbines is one way to make wind power more accessible. However, so is making more powerful residential wind turbines. Like solar panels, having the opportunity to produce power both on the grid and in homes is beneficial. 

How To Make Wind Power More Sustainable

To make wind power more sustainable, the materials used to make the turbines have to be better. Metal is, overall, a finite resource, so making hundreds of wind turbines from metal that has to be repaired and replaced isn’t sustainable.

Even though most of the metal can be recycled, currently there is no way to reuse the wind turbines. 

Additionally, to make wind power more sustainable, we have to have a better way of storing the power. While batteries are a good start, finding better and more sustainable ways to store all the energy would go a long way in improving sustainability.

Wind Farms

Wind farms are simply areas where a lot of large wind turbines are put into one place. These are often done in areas where it is windy for most of the year. 

Offshore Wind Power

Offshore wind power is considered to be one of the best places to collect wind. This is because the turbines are out of view, making them less of a problem as far as sound and ruining the landscape.

They also affect fewer birds and bats, as there aren’t as many animals flying through the sky in the ocean. There is often a lot of wind on the sea as well, making it a great area to harvest wind.

However, the problem lies in repairs, location, and moving the energy. Having wind turbines so far away from shore and where the power will be used causes a large loss of power during transfer. 

Additionally, a lot of located areas where wind turbines can be placed are protected areas like coral habitats and we don’t yet know the effect of wind turbines on marine life to its full extent. 

Collection And Transmission Network

Currently, there are Distributed Wind Research Program Goals focused on maximizing turbine power distribution and spreading awareness about wind turbines. This program currently focuses on using large wind farms as a basis to provide the majority of power to an area. 

However, more localized wind turbines in areas that use a lot of power, such as schools, can help to reduce the load on the grid, and the power can go back to the grid when there is extra, such as on weekends or holidays when the school doesn’t need quite so much energy. 

Residents can also get small wind turbines to help offset their own costs and produce a bit of their own power. 

Generator Characteristics And Stability

For the most part, the generators for wind are mostly stable. However, depending on the type of generator used, there can be some issues. For example, in magnet generators (synchronous generators), the magnet has the potential to demagnetize, especially under extreme heat. 

Then there are asynchronous generators. These use coils to create a magnetic field. They are considered a little more stable and can absorb speed fluctuations better, but it does need its own power supply for the magnets inside. 

Wind Power Capacity And Production

Growth Trends

Wind power is growing, and growing fast. Not only is more power being generated by wind power, but the field of research surrounding wind power is expanding, as are jobs, and the market cost of wind power as a whole. 

Energy storage

Most energy storage is currently through lead batteries. However, the possibilities are growing every day thanks to focused research and tests.

Some places are testing out compressing air to create energy later, while a Dutch company is looking into underwater systems for energy storage from wind farms. 

Predictability

Though not perfect, a general idea of wind and wind variability throughout the world has drastically improved the power that wind turbines can produce. By looking at past years and throughout various seasons, researchers can get an idea of how beneficial wind turbines will be in certain areas as well as how to turn them, and what to expect. 

Variability

While wind does vary throughout days, months, and even years, it actually varies less than you would expect of other green energy sources such as hydro power. This is because while daily wind may fluctuate, annual windflow doesn’t change as much as you might expect. 

Additionally, looking back a few years gives you an idea of how wind will change, and what factors influence it, such as storms and climate. 

Penetration

Wind energy penetration is considered to be the total amount of energy produced by wind divided by the annual demand. Essentially, that is how much of our total energy we can get from wind power, based on how much power we use and how much wind is produced per year. 

Penetration levels can change daily, seasonally, and annually. In the US, the goal is to hit a wind energy penetration of 20% by 2030, though in 2011, we were only at 2.9%

Capacity Factor

Currently, our capacity factor for wind is fairly low. This is because wind capacity is determined to be how much power we can produce with the current turbines we have.

Capacity changes based on the effectiveness of the turbines. To increase capacity, we would need to increase the height of the turbines and create bigger turbines. 

However, based on the power annually consumed in the US on average, the US has the potential to power itself completely on wind power, even if only minimally effective turbines are used. That is because the potential of wind in the US is about 68,000TWh, compared to how much energy the US consumes, which is about 3,802TWh. 

Fuel Savings And Energy Payback

Energy payback is considered the time it takes for a wind turbine to pay for itself, or make itself worth being built. For example, an offshore wind turbine costs about 20,900 megawatt hours to be made and installed. However, they will also produce roughly 34,000 megawatt hours of power a year. 

This means that a wind turbine can pay for itself in about seven and a half months. On shore, turbines can take about six months. 

Economics

Incentives And Community Benefits

Wind energy has the potential to create thousands of jobs based on controlling and harnessing the wind. Engineers, maintenance of the shaft, transmission lines and other challenges, general operations, and scientists gathering information and answering questions are all potential jobs that can be found thanks to wind power generation. 

It can also increase tourism, and provide a stable form of revenue for farmers, ranchers, or anyone who owns the property where turbines will be built. 

They also increase the money put into the economy indirectly, since jobs and income are going into the community at a higher rate. Additionally, residential wind programs can also reduce the cost of power for the homeowner, and reduce the load on the power grid. 

Small-scale Wind Power

In addition to large wind farms that are made to power a whole community or a part of a community, there are also small wind turbines made for residential purposes. Like residential solar panels, these can be used to decrease power demands for a home and reduce costs for residents. 

Electric Power Cost And Trends

The cost of wind turbines has dropped pretty steadily in the last decade, and it is looking to be the same for the future. Due to better research, programs, and incentives, the prices are still looking to go down. 

However, now, due to high demand and lack of supply because of COVID-19 shutdowns, the price has increased in the last year or two and some say that trend could continue for a few years longer. 

Impact On Environment And Landscape

Unfortunately, wind turbines do still pose a negative impact on the environment. Wind turbines have the potential to reduce, degrade, and fragment habitats for local and migrating wildlife, including plants and marine life. 

Also, while it is getting better, wind turbines also have the potential to harm flying animals, especially birds and bats. 

Wind Power Facts And Statistics

While Denmark isn’t on that list of biggest producers of wind power, they are a country to take a page from. About 47% of their total electricity consumption is from wind. By 2050, Denmark wants to rely mostly on sun and wind for their energy to reach 100% renewable energy goals. 

Countries in the United Kingdom are looking to produce more and more electricity from wind turbines, and as much as 24% of their electricity already comes from wind turbines. 

Electricity also grew quickly. Between 2007 and 2018, wind power grew more than tenfold, especially when focusing on capacity. 

In the United States, the first wind farm was built in California, in 1981. In 2018, wind power generated 6.5% of electricity in the United States (around 54,000 wind turbines), with Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Illinois producing the most wind power. 

FAQ

What are the 3 main types of wind energy?

The three main types of wind energy are utility scale turbines, offshore turbines, and small turbines. As the name suggests, the utility turbines are made for large wind production for cities and towns, offshore turbines are simply turbines built offshore, and small turbines are for residential and supportive power. 

How is wind energy made?

Wind energy is made when a rotator spins due to wind, which then in turn spins a generator, which creates electricity. 

What are wind energy’s advantages and disadvantages?

Wind energy has a lot of potential, it is renewable and clean, and has been found to be one of our cheapest forms of electricity, especially compared to other clean energies. 

However, it does have an impact on the wildlife, and can reduce the beauty of the landscape, as well as create an unpleasant noise if put close to a residential area. 

What is wind power in agriculture?

Many governments are looking to lease land from those in agriculture. Since they don’t take up too much space, it provides revenue for ranchers and farmers without taking up a lot of the space they need for produce, crops, and livestock. 

How many homes can be powered by a modern wind turbine?

At the current efficiency, which is about 42% per turbine, one turbine can produce enough power in a month to power 940 average US homes. However, the data changes a little based on the process such as wind speed, pressure, motion, and the city it is powering. 

How viable is wind power?

Wind can be a viable wind power. In fact, the US is working to make it a very viable source of renewable energy by 2050 for all 50 states. 

Who developed wind power?

A man named Charles F. Brush was the first person to create a wind turbine that was automatic and generated electricity in 1887. 

Who are the key figures in the wind power industry?

The key figures in the wind power industry are wind turbine manufacturers, wind developers, and utility companies. Some examples include Siemens, General Electric, NextEra Energy, American Electric Power Company, Nacelle, and Ameren Corporation, to name a few. 

Who are the biggest producers of wind power?

China is currently the largest producer of wind power in the world, with the United States next, and then India, France, and Brazil following closely behind.