The fastest growing source of “green and clean”
Wind and solar energy top the emerging alternative technologies for generating power without emitting greenhouse gas emissions, the primary reason for replacing coal, natural gas and oil.
What makes wind energy particularly desirable – it is the fastest growing sector in the industry – is its endless source, occurring naturally in the atmosphere and completely renewable. Additionally, the turbines, individually, require little space, enabling the land it’s installed on to be used for other purposes, such as farming.
Individual turbines, or multiple units forming a wind farm, can be expensive to install. But obviously, wind is free! Operating and maintenance costs are relatively low. A wind turbine offsets the energy used to make it in less than a year – and can function for over 30 years.
Every wind turbine generates enough clean energy to cover the electrical demand from some 2,000 homes. Commercially available wind turbines range between 5 kW for small residential turbines and 5 MW for large scale utilities. Wind turbines are 20% to 40% efficient at converting wind into energy. The typical life span of a wind turbine is 20 years, with routine maintenance required every six months.
Wind energy currently supplies over 5 % of global electricity consumption and by 2040 the International Energy Agency forecasts that wind energy could meet 9 % of global electricity demand (more than 20 % of demand in Europe). Currently there are more than 100,000 workers in the field with the potential to support more than 600,000 in coming years.
There are disadvantages of wind energy but the typical concerns – effect on habitat, threat to flying wildlife – have been debunked. A realistic drawback if not installed strategically, is dependency on the weather. If wind speeds are too low on any given day, the turbine’s rotor won’t spin, and it is common for turbines to be paired with some sort of energy storage technology. In many cases, dependent on location, transmission lines are an additional piece of infrastructure that must be built
In summary: Wind power is the most efficient technology to produce energy in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner: it is zero emissions, local, inexhaustible, competitive and creates jobs.
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