Harnessing the wind is not a new idea. It has been around for centuries. The most common applications were windmills that utilized wind power to pump water or grind grain. Today, wind energy is growing faster than any other renewable energy source in the US, increasing by about 40% a year. The wind machines you find are much more sophisticated and are primarily utilized to generate electricity. Wind is a renewable energy source and in many ways is similar to solar. It’s a naturally occurring resource but requires an investment to harness its potential.
These wind machines come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. One of the latest ideas is a vertical wind turbine, similar to the shape of an oil drum but a bit slimmer. It’s mounted on a building next to the edge of the roof. It catches the wind but also benefits from the naturally occurring thermals released by the roof. A good way to visualize these thermals is by looking down the highway on a hot day and seeing the road waver in the distance. This additional energy can keep that turbine spinning even on a calm day.
Why Wind Farms?
Wind is truly an eco-friendly source of energy. It does require resources to manufacture, transport and install but is indisputably a viable renewable energy source. Many power plants use coal, oil, or gas to generate electricity. Wind farms do not produce any hazardous waste in the process of producing electricity. They don’t utilize any type of fossil fuel either. Hence, resources are preserved. In fact, utilizing wind power to generate electricity is widely accepted as a pollution free power source.
Other power plants in the United States contribute to the deterioration of the environment but wind power does not. In fact, traditional U.S. power plants emit 70% sulfur dioxide, 34% carbon dioxide, 33% nitrogen oxides, 28% particulate matter and 23% toxic heavy metals. As the population grows and energy demand increases, these figures reveal the exponential threat to the environment.
Impact on Society
Today, there are many production plants that recognize the importance of supporting wind energy. Their support of wind energy offsets the production of their products via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
An organization called Community Energy, which was established in 1999, aims to bring consumer awareness of the advantages of using products made from renewable resources. Products that were certified as having been produce utilizing wind energy can use the logo “Printed Using 100% Wind Energy” or “Carton Made With 100% Wind Energy.”
You can help by supporting products that support wind energy. In this way, manufacturers who still utilize non-renewable energy may feel the market pressures and change their production process to increase sales volumes. Ultimately, it is the consumer that drives the production of all products. Power to the people!
Here is a helpful video from the Department of Energy. It provides a great visual and explains how wind is harnessed.
(2010) What Is Wind? Retrieved August 17, 2010. http://lsa.colorado.edu/essence/texts/wind.htm
(2010) WIND ENERGY and the ENVIRONMENT. Retrieved August 17, 2010. http://www.awea.org/faq/wwt_environment.html#What%20are%20the%20environmental%20benefits%20of%20wind%20power
(2010) Wind Logo Information. Retrieved August 17, 2010. http://www.communityenergyinc.com/windlogo/
(2010) Wind Power. Retrieved August 17, 2010. http://www.wind.appstate.edu/windpower/windpower.php
(2010) Image by Dan