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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Race To Harness The Wind

Wind power is currently one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources worldwide, even though it only provides less than 1% of global energy consumption.
Wind power is produced by using wind generators to harness the kinetic energy of wind.
It's even catching on here in U.S.!
Wind power has made sweeping changes to the small town of Sweetwater, Texas. The ever increasing number of wind farms have not only provided more job opportunities, but better-paying jobs. Nolan County, Texas is the number one wind market in America, currently producing over 2,500 megawatts of power- enough to provide electricity for up to 750,000 homes. The giant turbines dotting the landscape of the wind-rich plains of Sweetwater are definitely a sight to see, as most are over 200 feet tall. One turbine generates 1 megawatt of power.
As modern wind technology continues to evolve, there are many challenges that must be overcome. Installing the 200+ feet tall turbines is an expensive and enormous undertaking. About sixty times more wind energy is produced than we use today. Also, the wind, like the sun, is intermittent so we need the ability to store it. Another challenge with wind power is, that its transmission to large urban areas is very costly. One way to bypass this problem is the creation of small urban projects where the energy is used locally, so that transmission is not an issue.
In urban areas, turbines may be utilized to capture the flow of wind over the edge of a building, also known as the "chimney effect." Sleek turbines, unlike the towering ones used in more rural or suburban areas, leverage the accelerated wind flow when pointed in the direction of the wind. These turbines can feed the power system of the building when electricity is not being used. When the wind's energy is sent to the grid, it actually turns the meter backwards, providing savings on the power bill!
We currently need consistent, long-term federal commitment, i.e., policies, that will allow for further growth and development for renewable energy. Positive factors such as wind being readily available and that the cost for producing wind energy has been steadily decreasing, lead me to believe that wind energy will continue to grow in popularity here in America.
For state-by-state information, you may visit the American Wind Energy Association's site: http://www.awea.org
For additional information on alternative energy resources: http://push.pickensplan.com

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