Wind power offers a sustainable option in the pursuit of renewable energy.
Wind is the movement of air from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. In fact, wind exists because the sun unevenly heats the surface of the Earth. As hot air rises, cooler air moves in to fill the void. As long as the sun shines, the wind will blow. And wind has long served as a power source to humans.
Ancient mariners used sails to capture the wind. Farmers once used windmills to grind their grains and pump water. Today, more and more wind turbines wring electricity from the breeze. Over the past decade, wind turbine use has increased more than 25 percent per year. Still, it only provides a small fraction of the world’s energy.
HOW IT WORKS
Most wind energy comes from turbines that can be as tall as a 20-story building and have three 200-foot (60-meter)-long blades. The wind spins the blades, which turn a shaft connected to a generator that produces electricity.
The biggest wind turbines generate enough electricity in a year (about 12 megawatt-hours) to supply about 600 U.S. homes. Wind farms have tens and sometimes hundreds of these turbines lined up together in particularly windy spots. Smaller turbines erected in a backyard can produce enough electricity for a single home or small business.
THE BOOMING WIND ENERGY INDUSTRY
Wind is a clean source of renewable energy that produces no air or water pollution. And since the wind is free, operational costs are nearly zero once a turbine is erected. Mass production and technology advances are making turbines cheaper, and many governments offer tax incentives to spur wind-energy development.
Drawbacks include complaints from locals that wind turbines are ugly and noisy. The slowly rotating blades can also kill birds and bats, but not nearly as many as cars, power lines, and high-rise buildings do. The wind is also variable: If it’s not blowing, there’s no electricity generated.
Nevertheless, the wind energy industry is booming. Thanks to global efforts to combat climate change, such as the Paris Agreement, renewable energy is seeing a boom in growth, with wind energy leading the way. From 2000 to 2015, cumulative wind capacity around the world increased from 17,000 megawatts to more than 430,000 megawatts. In 2015, China also surpassed the EU in the number of installed wind turbines and continues to lead installation efforts.
Industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 one third of the world’s electricity needs will be fulfilled by wind power.
Wind turbines for homes can be the perfect addition for the person intent on saving money on their electricity costs every month. With all the new options out there that are available, there will likely be an option that fits perfectly into your budget and unique conditions at home.
With that being said, wind turbines for homes are not always a perfect fit though. You need to dive in to the details on a project like this and look before you leap or you could end up with a not so attractive roof ornament instead of a power producer.
These are the areas that you need to cover before you start to look seriously at wind turbines for homes…
Wind attributes at your home – The first thing that you must always come to grips with is how much energy can you actually produce with a wind turbine at your home. Many people would like to avoid this step because it is a lot of trouble and takes quite a lot of time. As a matter of fact though, taking the proper data collection will slow your project down by 6 to 12 months – that is, if you do it right. If you choose not to take this step you are simply guessing. You may get it right and then again you may not get it right. But, in any case it will be pure happenstance if you are successful. Therefore, you need to quell your exuberance for the moment and take some data to understand where you have wind energy and where you do not have it around your house.
Available space to put one – While the roof can be an excellent place to install a turbine in these usually the first choice for most people due to Roof Effect, there are other places as well that need to be seriously considered if you’re trying to extract the most wind energy that you can from a given property. Mounting a wind turbine on top of a tower will always give you the best results, but it basically doubles the cost of the project because the tower is quite expensive. However, if you are up high on the tower you are going to be above all of the disturbance the trees and buildings can cause to the airflow.
Rules and regulations – You need to take these into account because the permitting process can shut down a wind turbine at your house very quickly. The rules limiting local installation of wind turbines in some places can be very strict. However, in some places like Oklahoma, there are no restrictions at all and everyone is very glad to see home wind turbines put up almost anywhere.
By Roger Brown
With government and environmental groups pushing the “green” agenda, more and more alternative energy sources are being implemented throughout the world. Three widely used alternative energy methods are solar panels, wave energy and wind turbines. However, there are ongoing research studies and field trials trying to find the next great energy source to power our civilization.
Wind power has proven to be incredibly popular, but as of late, it has come under scrutiny. Although wind turbines are great renewable energy producers, they are having a negative environmental impact. Many dead bats have been found in and around wind farms. Their alarming discovery has sparked new studies by veterinarians, wildlife and ecology specialists, and energy companies aimed at determining cause of death and the possibility of further harm caused by wind turbines.
Wind turbines across the nation are closed down from time to time when they endanger the lives of bats. One such closure recently happened when the US Fish and Wildlife Service found a dead bat underneath a turbine. The Indiana Bat is a nearly extinct species and when they are found dead due to non-natural causes, the federal commission gets involved and puts an end to the problem.
Bats are nocturnal creatures, coming out at night to feed. They fly and hunt by echo-location, which has a range of around sixty feet. When they encounter the fast moving blades of a wind turbine, they are unable to safely maneuver and are often times hit and killed.
Even when bats aren’t directly hit by wind turbine blades, they can still be killed. As wind turbine blades spin, they create a pressure differential. Bats are not able to survive this rapid pressure change, and if they fly through this, it causes their internal organs to explode. This phenomenon is known as Barotrauma and it has been a proven cause of death through autopsies of bats found near wind turbines.
Although bat deaths have raised concerns over the safety of wind energy farms, there may be a way to prevent such occurrences. There are studies being conducted to determine if noise can be used to deter bats from entering wind farms. Thus far, most studies have shown that acoustic sounds can reduce bat fatalities by upwards of 70%. Hopefully wind farms will take action to prevent harm to wildlife that share the skies. If the general public is to get behind the alternative energy sources that are being investigated, there needs to be proof that the benefits outweigh any costs. If this is the case, bat deaths and any other ill effects to wildlife, must be stopped.
As with any new development, alternative energy production is under public scrutiny. It is unfortunate that wind energy has had ill affects on wildlife. On the other hand, traditional energy sources have time and again proven to be far more harmful. Most recently a big oil spill in the Gulf Coast of the United States & Mexico caused much alarm as gallons of crude oil was spilled into the ocean. Despite this catastrophe, millions of people still rely heavily on oil to power daily lives, commutes, and more. It’s interesting to see stoppages of this type when it comes to alternative energies, but not the same reaction when oil spills threaten larger areas.
Bat deaths are continually looked at in regards to investigating energy that is being harnessed by wind turbines across the world. If the deaths can be ceased, look for wind to be the biggest alternative energy in years.