How Wind Power is Being Used
In the last decade, wind energy has become increasingly popular everywhere you look. Countries around the globe have been investing more and more money into wind turbines in an effort to generate clean power that is efficient and safe for the environment. In fact, from the years 2000 to 2006, wind energy worldwide increased by a factor of four. This incredible growth has come as a result of technological advances in turbine design and manufacturing processes. New materials and aerodynamic turbine designs are clearing the way for wind power to make an astounding leap from providing 2% or the worlds energy in 2009, to potentially fulfilling one third of out total energy needs by the year 2020.
What other countries are doing:
Countries such as India, China, France, and Germany have invested a great deal of money into wind energy over the last decade. As a result of this, these countries are far ahead of the United States in terms of solving their renewable energy problems. The main problem with wind energy is that the initial cost of the turbines and installation is very expensive. This high initial investment has made many investors (including the United States government) weary of pursuing wind power in any great extent. Other countries around the globe, including those previously mentioned, are taking steps towards energy self sufficiency by investing in a technology that uses an unlimited natural resource (wind) to supply large amounts of clean power to replace more traditional fossil fuels which have harmful affects on the environment.
How Wind Power Works
In order to harvest wind power, turbines are used to transfer wind energy into usable electrical power. Wind is a renewable natural resource that is created as a result of the sun shinning unevenly on the surface of the earth. This creates a difference of temperatures among areas that receive different levels of sunlight. Different temperatures means a change in pressure which results in air moving from high to low pressures, this movement of air is what we know as wind.
Turbine blades operate under the principle that a difference in air pressure will cause the blades to spin. Once spinning, the turbines begin producing electrical power by using an assortment of gears and a generator. Wind turbines can produce an incredible amount of energy if there is enough wind to turn them very fast.
The largest wind turbine in the world is located in Germany. The Enercon E-126 stands around 450 feet tall and can produce as much as 7 megawatts of power. This is enough power to entirely provide for 5,000 German households which is very impressive for a single turbine. Similar projects are under construction in China, India, and France.
Many European countries have also begun using offshore turbines to collect large amounts of energy from the strong coastal winds. In fact, coastal turbines account for a large portion of Europe's total wind power generation. In the United States such methods should be used for generating wind energy. There have been many recent advancements in turbine and blade technology that make power generation more efficient than ever. This new technology combined with techniques such as offshore harvesting should be implemented in the United States to help solve our current energy problem.
Solving America's Energy Problem with Wind Energy
How America can benefit from wind power:
Throughout the past decade, countries all around the world have begun using energy from wind turbines as an effective way to create large amounts of clean, usable electrical power. The same techniques used by most of the globe should be adopted and expanded upon within the United States.We have made small steps in this direction but has been slow because of a lack of funding for wind power projects. Despite the large upfront cost of investing in this kind of power, private investors as well as the government should encourage the expansion of wind power and choose to invest in it more aggressively. This form of power generation has the capability to solve the long term energy problems that America has yet to figure out. Building on wind energy will also decrease our dependency on foreign oil from the Middle East and have great environmental benefits.
A Local Renewable Energy Source
One great thing about wind energy is that it is a "local" source of energy. That is, when wind turbines are installed in an area, the whole surrounding area reaps the benefits. Wind projects give back to the community in the form of jobs and by moving money to that particular area's local economy. Wind is a resource that will never go away or be confined to only a small area which are both things that you can't say for oil. Also, no other country's conflicts or problems can affect power production of a turbine in the United States. Beginning to rely on wind for our energy needs will solve our dependence on foreign fossil fuels such as oil and gas.
Moving Forward Towards Clean Energy
In order to cut down and eventually eliminate America's dependence on foreign energy sources, we need to begin investing in wind technology more and more. The government, as well as private and commercial industry needs to recognize the incredible potential that this form of power can offer. After all, the rest of the world already has taken notice and is investing heavily in turbines and wind related projects. There is still more technological advances that will also need to be made. But technology has already increased greatly in recent years and with more investing in wind, these advances will happen even quicker than in the past.