Wind energy is the latest in both viable sustainable alternative energy and commercial electricity generation. It is both free of pollutants and truly self-sufficient energy. The turbines can be manufactured in almost any industrialized country, and the wind is obviously anywhere. Although not the least expensive form of electricity generator in standard terms, wind energy for home still provides many benefits.
Wind power works by transforming the kinetic energy present in wind into mechanical energy and then into electrical energy. The process of converting kinetic energy into mechanical energy utilizes a technique as old as the typical windmills. Wind rotates the turbine blades, which are specifically shaped to harness the wind’s power. The rotating motion is then transferred by gears to the rotor of the turbine, which causes the turbine to generate electricity.
According to the United States Department of Energy, clean wind power can cost around $55.60 per MWH (megawatt hour). While coal energy costs about $53.10 per MWH; nuclear power $59.30 per MWH; and natural gas $52.50 per MWH. Currently, wind energy for home is slightly more expensive than fossil fuels, but the current costs are steadily dropping as wind turbines are becoming cheaper because of mass production. Wind power costs have significantly dropped by eighty percent between 1984 and 2004.
Wind power has absolutely no fuel expenses and almost non-existent maintenance costs. However, there is a relatively substantial initial investment cost. Wind farms, for commercial purposes, producing similar amounts of electricity as a mid-sized coal-fired power plant will cost more to construct, but will essentially cost less to operate over a 20-plus year time frame.
The previously mentioned statistics on the cost of wind power do not take into account the environmental expenses. Wind energy for home has no clean-up expenditures, however fossil fuels do. Any serious plan to address man-made climate change will inevitably have to include such system like the carbon tax or carbon cap-and-trade system, making carbon emissions more expensive and therefore will provide the right motivation for people to convert to using cleaner energy sources.
The United States alone imports sixty percent of the oil and fifteen percent of the natural gas the whole country consumes. In 2007, 21.6% of U.S. electricity output came from natural gas and 1.6% came from oil. Natural gas and oil imports are key contributors to the U.S. trade deficit, so dependence on foreign fossil fuels has an indirect and negative effect on the American economy. The Netherlands is presently conducting studies on not just replacing oil-fired thermal power plants with North Sea-based wind farms, but building so many that they could export surplus electricity to neighboring countries.
There is no obvious reason why the United States could not only make wind turbines for the country’s consumption, but become a wind turbine exporter as well. As a matter of fact, the main reason why the growth of wind power in the U.S. is frustratingly slow is not because of lack of demand, but lack of supply. Many of the turbines that are set up in the U.S. are being imported from Europe. Job creation occurs in Europe and not in the U.S.
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