WIND ENERGY FACTS
Although wind power is used worldwide in a variety of settings, it is commonly overlooked as a viable, alternative energy source. This is mainly due to the cost of implementing large scale systems. There are also a lot of wind energy facts that are commonly overlooked when it comes to understanding wind power as a science. These facts, which when more widely understood and accepted, could push it into a more mainstream alternative.
Unfortunately, unlike with solar power, the long term vision of seeing the ongoing generation of power from a system like this rarely outweighs the up front financial commitment that is required to begin a construction project of a large scale wind power system.
WIND ENERGY SIMPLIFIED
One commonly overlooked fact is that wind power is simply a form of solar energy (see How Wind Power Works). Like solar power, there is always a constant supply of wind. As long as the sun rises and sets, there will be the heating and cooling of the earth’s surface which cause variances in air pressures leading to wind. Like solar power, it is merely a potential energy that if left un-harnessed or captured simply comes and goes. But the important thing is that is always comes and always goes regardless of the price of oil, the state of the economy or what country you live in.
A FEW STATISTICS
The Department of Energy conducted a survey in 2005 around wind energy. Their findings showed that out of all the electricity produced in the world, wind energy accounted for only 1% of the total. Germany leads the world in this technology and is the largest producer of wind energy, followed by Denmark then the United States. This statistic clearly shows that we have merely scratched the surface of the capabilities of wind energy. As the renewable energy advocates continue to push for the use of alternative energy sources, wind energy will be standing by waiting to grow to an eventual massive source around the globe.
When we look at the United States in 3rd, it should be known that the U.S. gave birth to wind energy technology. If you add all the wind power systems throughout the US, there is a potential to generate over 20,000 mega watts. In 2008 the projections were to generate 48 billion kilowatt-hours. This enormous amount in number, still only accounts for just over 1 % of the total U.S. electricity supply. When you compare this to the averages consumed by typical households, this amount has the potential to power over 4.5 million homes. On the flip side, the actual potential that could be generated from wind is estimated at more than 2x what is being generated currently. Even though the level of wind power falls just over 1% currently, it has been the fastest growing form of alternative energy nationwide.
FUTURE OF WIND ENERGY
As the acceptance of this technology grows, large wind farms will most likely be more prevalent. Even though these wind farms do tend to require a large up front capital outlay to get started, but they eventually become on of the least expensive ways to generate electricity and one of the least labor intensive systems to maintain. Offshore wind farms have the potential to power an entire country. First however, the acceptance in the minds of people must take root and like all new technologies it must travel through the cycles of innovation, critical mass, exponential growth before it becomes commonplace.
Until there is a wider acceptance and realization of this phenomenal energy source, there is always going to be the underlying worry in the hearts of people centered around rising fuel costs and all the environmental and physical problems that fossil fuel use creates. When wind energy is looked at on a wider scale and the idea of off shore wind farms and residential wind turbine technology (see Homemade Wind Turbines) is accepted, these concerns may be minimized and eventually eliminated. Until then, we as individuals can do our part with residential solar (see Home Solar Power) and wind technology and set the example to our neighbors.