ADVANTAGES OF WIND POWER
As long as the sun continues to shine there will be wind. Think about it… A solar energy system (see Home Solar Power) is a great way to cut down or potentially eliminate your grid-tied electric bill, but what about cloudy days? Winter months? Night time? This is where the advantages of wind power come into play.
CAUSES OF WIND
Depending on where you live, a small breeze usually follows a setting sun. This is very typical if you live near a large body of water (lake, ocean, etc.) Here’s a simple weather lesson: Land masses heat up and cool down quicker than water masses.
The rising and falling temperature over a land or water mass equates to a rise or fall in air pressure. If you have two neighboring areas which have differences in air pressures, air will always flow from the higher pressure to lower which of course is what we call wind.
THE SMART ADDITION TO SOLAR POWER
It’s pretty obvious why most homeowners who dabble into the alternative home energy systems have both solar (see Home Solar Power) and wind energy systems (see Homemade Wind Turbines). One backs up the other, or both can work hand in hand. Ok, now that one of the main advantages of wind power have been discussed, let’s move onto some others.
Unlike with a solar energy system which is positioned to face a certain direction, most home windmills are designed to either move into position by with wind itself or can be manually moved to fit a specific wind direction. Again this is nice because the wind doesn’t always blow in the same exact direction.
ECONOMICS OF WIND POWER
As far as economics, similar to a solar energy system, an advantage of wind power is that once a system is built you can essentially “set it and forget it”. Just like my mom used to say about her Crock Pot..ok bad example, but you get the jist. There is some basic maintenance that you’ll need to do, but for the most part it’s just a fan with some bearings to grease up every now and again. With an average cost between 4-6 cents per kilowatt-hour, this makes wind energy one of the lowest costing alternative energy systems in existence today.
WHY IT MAKES SENSE
Similar to a solar energy system (see Solar Photovoltaic System), homemade wind turbines can be used in the most remote areas of the world. Even in the middle of winter, these units can be utilized in the far northern or southern latitudes. For example in parts of Sweden where in the winter months the sun may only shine for a small portion of the day, a wind energy system could be used as a home’s primary, alternative energy source.
Another thing to consider is that wind turbines take up a very small footprint on your property. Opposed to a solar panel system which may take up a fair amount of square footage, a wind turbine may have a relatively small footprint at its base and if used on a farm, the land beneath the unit could still be cultivated for use. A lot of home wind energy systems are built on the rooftops of homes, which is even more of a space saver.
WIND ENERGY = GREEN ENERGY
Ok let’s talk about pollution or in the case of a wind turbine its lack thereof! Think about it. Wind is about the cleanest energy source we have, unless you live the San Bernardino County, Ca..ok another bad example, but seriously, it’s AIR for goodness sakes; air that blows over some blades of a turbine and causes some rotation of the rotor of a generator. Very clean and very simple. Unlike power plants that use natural gas or coal, wind energy systems don’t do anything to the air they use. No emissions, no greenhouse gases, no acid rain, nothing.. Convinced?
As you can hopefully see, the advantages of wind power make the idea almost a no-brainer when looking to the future of our planet and its sustainability. Luckily, it IS the fastest growing alternative energy technology right now (see Alternative Energy Sources), and continued research is being done to expand the uses and availability all the way down to the average homeowner.