Wind energy propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5000 B.C., and it's still a relevant energy source today. In fact, wind energy is the fastest-growing source of electricity in the world. Why? Because wind energy has many advantages.
First, there are many different sizes of wind turbines to accommodate many different needs, from small distributed systems that can help power homes, businesses, or ranches to giant multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines.
Wind energy is also affordable. Wind is now one of the most cost-effective sources of new electricity generation. That’s one reason wind accounts for 35% of all new electricity-generating capacity since 2007. Plus, utilities can lock in wind energy prices for 20 to 30 years because the fuel is free.
Wind energy is one of the most affordable renewable resources. Incentives for clean energy production drop the price even further, ranging from great feed-in-tariffs in Europe to a 30% tax credit in the US. Your local ENERSAC Partner will help you understand all of the available tax credits and incentives in your area, wherever in the world you may be. ENERSAC wind turbines are an excellent choice for both urban and rural customers, commercial developers and residential homeowners.
Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
Wind turbines are designed to produce energy across a wide range of wind speeds and wind conditions. Vertical axis wind turbines go one step further, harnessing winds from all directions simultaneously. UGE wind turbines are also very quiet, and it certainly helps that our turbines are pleasing to the eye. UGE has grown to be the world’s leading manufacturer of vertical axis wind turbines through its dedication to design, energy output, and superlative customer service via our worldwide network of local partners.
Wind Energy and Wind Power
Wind is a form of solar energy. Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth's surface, and rotation of the earth. Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth's terrain, bodies of water, and vegetative cover. This wind flow, or motion energy, when "harvested" by modern wind turbines, can be used to generate electricity.
How Wind Power Is Generated
The terms "wind energy" or "wind power" describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water) or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity to power homes, businesses, schools, and the like.
Wind Turbine Size and Power Ratings
Wind turbines are available in a variety of sizes, and therefore power ratings. The largest machine has blades that span more than the length of a football field, stands 20 building stories high, and produces enough electricity to power 1,400 homes. A small home-sized wind machine has rotors between 8 and 25 feet in diameter and stands upwards of 30 feet and can supply the power needs of an all-electric home or small business. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 50 to 750 kilowatts. Single small turbines, below 50 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind-Generated Electricity
A Renewable Non-Polluting Resource
Wind energy is a free, renewable resource, so no matter how much is used today, there will still be the same supply in the future. Wind energy is also a source of clean, non-polluting, electricity. Unlike conventional power plants, wind plants emit no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 1990, California's wind power plants offset the emission of more than 2.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, and 15 million pounds of other pollutants that would have otherwise been produced. It would take a forest of 90 million to 175 million trees to provide the same air quality.
Even though the cost of wind power has decreased dramatically in the past 10 years, the technology requires a higher initial investment than fossil-fueled generators. Roughly 80% of the cost is the machinery, with the balance being site preparation and installation. If wind generating systems are compared with fossil-fueled systems on a "life-cycle" cost basis (counting fuel and operating expenses for the life of the generator), however, wind costs are much more competitive with other gnerating technologies because there is no fuel to purchase and minimal operating expenses.
Although wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to fossil fuel power plants, there is some concern over the noise produced by the rotor blades, aesthetic (visual) impacts, and birds and bats having been killed (avian/bat mortality) by flying into the rotors. Most of these problems have been resolved or greatly reduced through technological development or by properly sitting wind plants.
Supply and Transport Issues
The major challenge to using wind as a source of power is that it is intermittent and does not always blow when electricity is needed. Wind cannot be stored (although wind-generated electricity can be stored, if batteries are used), and not all winds can be harnessed to meet the timing of electricity demands.
Further, good wind sites are often located in remote locations far from areas of electric power demand (such as cities). Finally, wind resource development may compete with other uses for the land, and those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. However, wind turbines can be located on land that is also used for grazing or even farming.
Minimize Your Impact
Reduce your impact on the environment - contributing to the health of our planet.
Producing your own energy allows you to choose a clean, renewable energy source, allowing you to go green on your own terms.
With ever-rising electricity prices, it will be a relief to take charge and lower your utility bills.
Interesting Wind Energy Facts
- At the current growth rate, U.S. wind energy developers install two new wind farms per week.
- Wind mills have been in use since 2000 B.C. and were first developed in China and Persia.
- Wind power is currently the fastest-growing source of electricity production in the world.
- Google has invested $5 billion in a new underwater transmission line to connect offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean with 1.9 million households on the East Coast.
- A single wind turbine can power 500 homes.
- Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas is the world’s largest wind farm with 627 turbines generating 781.5 MW of electricity.
- More than one-third of all new generating capacity installed in America since 2007 is from wind power.
- There’s enough on-shore wind in America to power the country 10 times over.
- U.S. wind power produces as much electricity as nearly 10 nuclear power plants.
- Most wind turbines (95%) are installed on private land.
- Modern wind turbines produce 15 times more electricity than the typical turbine did in 1990.
- At times, wind energy produces as much as 25% of the electricity on the Texas power grid.
- American wind power is a $10 billion a year industry.
- Unlike nearly every other form of energy, wind power uses virtually no water.
- By 2030, U.S. wind power will save nearly 30 trillion bottles of water.
- At times, wind power produces as much as 45% of the electricity in Spain.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wind Energy
- What size turbine is needed to power an entire home?
- How tall are they?
- What is the average payback period?
- How much do they cost?
- What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?
- Do I need to take wind measurements?
- How much land and wind are required?
- How does the rated capacity of a small wind system compare to its actual performance?
- How are small wind systems maintained?
- Are batteries or other storage needed?
- What is a typical rate of return on my investment in a turbine?
- Are wind turbines noisy?