If you’ve driven across the American landscape lately, you’ve probably noticed the increasing population of a new and fascinating structure. Wind-generated power is an increasingly popular source of renewable energy. Unlike oil, coal, or natural gas, it’s clean, safe, and reliable.
The average wind turbine stands at 328 feet – 116-foot blades on a 212-foot tower. The windmill (as I fondly call them) sweeps a vertical airspace nearly equaling an acre. These massive tools are even more noticeable because they are generally painted a gleaming white – making a field of them look like angelic versions of the whirligigs we played with as children.
Wind as an energy source is available to anyone with a bit of land for a large or small turbine. These smaller turbines are combating original concerns people held about wind energy, often referred to as “not in my backyard” or NIMBY. Today, wind energy is gaining popularity in private and residential locations. Farmers, for example, can generate revenue by allowing large companies to place wind turbines in their fields. Individual households can also participate by partnering with companies (see Windspire below) who have created smaller versions for individuals’ backyards.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) provides interesting statistics about the growing interest in wind energy as a renewable resource in the United States. According to AWEA, wind energy projects are present in 39 of the 50 states, totaling in more than 48,000 operating utility-scale wind turbines. The industry employs 73,000 people and currently generates enough energy to power 18 million homes in a year. To see the geographic spread of wind energy in the United States and the increase of Wind turbines in the past 15 years, see the two tables by AWEA below.
Windspire Energy – Wind Energy for Everybody
In its earlier days, wind energy was confined to large farms in rural areas. Today, the landscape is changing. New forms of wind turbines are being developed that are less invasive and encourage people to install wind turbines in their own back yard.
Windspire Energy’s mission was to make wind power available to businesses and home owners. They invented a smaller, more attractive wind turbine that is low cost and has a “plug-n-produce” ability that allows it to fit into smaller businesses and residential environments. Unlike the traditional wind turbine, Windspire’s appliance is only 30 feet tall and 4 feet wide. There are no propellers and the machine generates very little noise. Consumers with smaller yards can meet their energy needs by placing one or more of these Windspires on their property. Each unit is $9,000-$12,000. A tax credit generally drops the price to approximately $3,800.
Windspire has focused heavily on the aesthetic appeal of their wind turbines, painting them in a non-corrosive substance that can be repainted in any color to match your home or backyard décor. It’s also been built with birds in mind – with a vertical and slow speed ratio that is not only quiet but easier for birds to see and avoid.
For businesses, owning a series of Windspire turbines can do more than produce energy – it’s a visual display of your company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility – protecting our planet and choosing renewable energy.
An Interview from a worker in the field
My sister in law works in a wind energy consulting firm. Below are her answers to a few questions about wind as a renewable source of energy.
Describe what you do – what is a week/day in your career like?
I work for a consulting firm, so in a typical week/day I perform quite a variety of tasks. They may include technical studies such as sound modeling, writing reports for wind farm permits, reviewing projects as part of due diligence work, and working closely with my team members and others within the organization to manage and deliver work to Clients.
What would you most want people who know nothing about wind energy to understand?
Wind energy is a clean, safe, reliable form of energy. There are wind resources available across the country that can be effectively used to produce power and reduce carbon emissions.
What are the greatest benefits of wind energy?
The fuel is free and plentiful, the energy is cost-effective, and the power produced uses zero carbon. There are wind resources available across the country, so the wind can be harnessed in many states and offshore. In rural states, wind energy can provide important, stable economic benefits, and landowners can receive long-term financial payments by leasing their land to wind farm developers.
What are the greatest challenges of wind energy?
Federal policies in support of wind have been inconsistent, leading to uncertainty for wind farm developers. Additionally, some states and local jurisdictions have passed NIMBY-esque laws creating citing challenges for wind projects. Finally, even the greenest forms of energy are not zero-impact on the local environment. Wind farm developers are constantly working to minimize any potential impacts of their projects on communities, protected species, birds, protected lands, and other natural resources. Typically, the benefits of wind energy far outweigh any negative implications, but their consideration is important.
What is your position?
I am an avid supporter of wind energy as an increasingly important part of our nation, and the world’s renewable energy mix.
Wind Energy – the Power of the Future
The days of dirty energy are coming to an end. As awareness increases people are tired of oil spills, coal sludge, and dirty air. We want future generations to enjoy a planet that has fresh air, clean water, and biodiversity. If you want to learn more about wind energy follow the links below. Also consider sharing this post so more people can learn about this valuable, clean, and reliable source of renewable energy.