Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Benefits of Using Wind Farms to Produce Electricity

Wind farms continue to sprout up around the globe. Generating electricity using Nature's wind energy is proving to be not only a useful complement to using fossil fuels and nuclear energy, but also more beneficial in a number of ways. Below are a few examples drawn from recent reports.
Wind Power Cheaper than Nuclear
Generating energy from wind turbines at sea would be cheaper than building new atomic power plants, according to Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner. She told the European Wind Energy Association's annual conference in Brussels that the problems facing nuclear power put renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, back in the spotlight. Read more here.

Wind Turbines Stronger than Nuclear
Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive an earthquake or tsunami, the Japanese wind industry is still functioning and helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis.
There has been no wind facility damage from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even a semi-offshore wind farm (see photo) about 300km from the epicenter of the quake survived. Read more here.

Kamisu Wind Farm 300 km from earthquake epicenter, by Wind Power Ibaraki

Wind Turbines Survive Cold Weather as Fossil Fuel Plants Falter
Wind energy played a major role in helping keep the lights on as the Great Plains dealt with a record storm this winter. Wind energy limited the severity of the blackouts, providing enough electricity to keep the power on in about 3 million households. Fifty fossil fuel power plants experienced outages and went offline due to the cold weather. Two large coal-fired power plants went offline due to pipes freezing or breaking. Some gas-fired plants also experienced outages due to the cold, and others were unable to produce as scheduled due to low gas pressure in the pipelines. Read more here.
Wind Power is Big and Friendly in Texas
Texas is the nation’s leader in generating electricity from wind, with 9,700 megawatts of about 41,000 megawatts in the US last year. By 2025, Texas plans to generate 38,000 megawatts, enough for 90% of the state's current residential electricity needs.
Farmers and ranchers are profiting from wind power, receiving from $3,000 to $10,000 a year for each wind turbine permitted on their land. Also, since wind turbines occupy only 1% of the land, the land can still be used to grow crops or graze cattle. Read more here.

Wind power is friendly to people and the environment. Unlike fossil-fuel power, wind power does not pollute the air or water. Also, today's windmill blades spin slowly and quietly. People can even partake in outdoor fun, like tossing a frisbee (see photo),
in the open space around the majestic towers of wind turbines (this would not be fun or healthy to do at a coal-fired power plant).

[Click image to enlarge]

Wind Power is Less Harmful to Birds
Fossil fuels pose higher risks to wildlife than wind power. Coal - which wind directly replaces - is by far the largest contributor to wildlife risks.
Compared to wind turbines, domestic cats kill 100 times more birds, and buildings kill over 5000 times more. Wind turbines are estimated to cause less than three out of every 100,000 human-related bird deaths in the U.S., and will never cause more than a small fraction no matter how extensively wind power is used in the future, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Read more here.

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