Renewable Wind Energy
For centuries windmills were used for pumping water or grinding corn. However, at the beginning of last century the internal combustion engine replaced the windmill and with it the usage of wind power.
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Renewable wind energy is actually indirectly powered by the sun. Solar energy warms the atmosphere which then in turn cools down again which causes the wind to develop.
By the end of the 19th century (1890) special windmills known as turbines designed to generate electricity were popular in Denmark .
These turbines had two or three rotor blades attached to the shaft of an electricity generator. Through the wind spinning the blades, the generator turned and produced electricity.
Today, renewable wind energy has become more interesting again and it is said that in the next 10 to 20 years a large part of our electricity may come from renewable wind energy.
However, much more research and development needs to be carried out before those claims can become reality.
Compared to the burning of fossil fuels renewable wind energy has a number of advantages. These include:
- Wind is a vast and renewable natural resource.
- The maintenance and operational costs of a wind system are very low.
- The usage of other more harmful sources of energy such as natural gas and coal can be decreased.
- Wind power does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions.
- Wind is a freely available natural resource.
- Power from wind energy is less expensive than power from nuclear plants or gas.
Of course there are many more benefits to the usage of renewable wind energy and the list above is by no means exhaustive.
The potential of renewable wind energy is so great that up to 50% of the electrical power needs in the United States could be satisfied by wind power. However, currently not even 1% of all electricity comes from wind power.
Renewable wind energy could certainly be developed as a major energy source in the future. Globally, the United States shows the fastest growth rate for the usage of renewable wind energy.
Wind energy needs wind to function. Therefore, places with stronger or more frequent winds such as North Dakota and California have attracted more wind farms.
Due to the large areas of land required by wind farms they are occasionally erected on farm land. But before a wind farm can be built there are numerous things that need to be considered.
Wind farms require winds of certain speed and certain consistency, too.
Offshore locations also look very promising for the erection of wind farms as winds blow strongly and frequently out in the ocean.
Financial incentives by the government could encourage further growth of the renewable wind power industry to develop to its full potential.
State incentives have already been successful in the development of small wind systems but currently they are only available in California, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – hopefully more areas will be added soon.