Renewable Energy Sources: Wind Power
What is wind power?
Wind is an abundant, natural, and renewable resource that can be captured and converted into energy using wind turbines. Wind turbines come in several sizes, from 100 feet tall to 400 feet tall, but the concept is typically the same: the wind blows and turns two or three blades around a rotor that is connected to a tower. The rotor spins an electricity-producing generator.
A scale of wind energy capture can range from a single small turbine producing a few kilowatts of electricity to a wind farm producing hundreds of megawatts. If wind power were the only source of power for homes, a storage system like a large battery would be needed, since the wind does not blow all the time. However, storage typically is not needed because wind generators make up only a portion of the power in a utility system, and other fuel sources are used when the wind is not blowing.
The most economical application of wind turbines is when they are grouped into “wind farms.” For example, a 152-turbine, 304-megawatt wind farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties generates enough electricity to power 76,000 homes.
According to the Energy Information Agency, the average US household uses 888 kWh per month, or 10,656 kWh per year. An average 1.5-MW turbine would produce the same amount of electric energy as that used by almost 332 households over the course of a year.
Today, a 50-megawatt wind farm can be completed in 18 to 24 months. Most of that time is needed to measure the wind and obtain construction approval and permits. The wind farm itself can be built in less than six months.
Wind Power in Ohio
According to the American Clean Power Association, Ohio ranks 24th overall for total megawatts of wind energy produced. As of May 2022, Ohio had an installed wind capacity of 1,100 megawatts.
Wind Power Nationally
The United States continues to expand its efforts on wind power generation. By June 2022, the United States’ wind energy capacity totaled 137,6000 megawatts producing approximately 10.2 percent of all generated electricity in the United States.
Most of the wind turbines in use today are on land. However, more offshore wind sites are being built. The first offshore wind farm was built off the coast of Rhode Island in 2016. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Study indicates that wind energy could provide 35% of the nation’s electricity by 2050.
Wind Power Pros and Cons
Wind is a free, renewable resource that does not emit pollutants into the environment. As much as 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission can be prevented each year by a single wind turbine. It would take 500 acres of forest to absorb that much carbon dioxide.
Wind turbines can provide extra income for farmers. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the average annual lease payments are around $3,000 to $6,000 per megawatt of wind energy installed. In addition, the land around turbines can continue to be used for growing crops or grazing livestock.
Even though wind comes and goes, wind power can be an important contributor to the energy grid. However, some people have expressed concerns about having wind turbines near their homes because of the visual impact that they have on the landscape, and other issues. Lastly, there are reports each year of birds and bats killed after flying into a turbine’s rotor blades. The industry is working to reduce the number of bird and bat deaths. For example, in many cases, research is performed on migratory flight patterns before building wind turbines to decrease the possibility of this occurring.
For additional information on wind power, visit these organizations:
U.S. Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
U.S. Energy Information Administration
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