Wind Energy: The Use of Wind Turbines

With the impending energy crisis, mankind sought the perfect solution that will solve the problem of overdependence on fossil fuel. There is no need to elaborate the fact that petroleum products derived from fossil fuel is very expensive and at the same time create noxious fumes that pollute the environment. But the most pressing concern is the realization that someday fossil fuel will be depleted. As a result numerous alternative energy solutions were created and utilized by different countries all over the world.

One of the most promising is wind energy, specifically the use of wind turbines to produce clean and renewable energy. One can just imagine the potential of wind energy. It is virtually inexhaustible because it seems to be available on a regular basis. As a result wind turbines are being installed from California to Sweden and even in Asia. But do not be deceived because wind energy is not as practical solution to the energy problem of this country.

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Background

In the scientific revolution that swept modern history, mankind discovered the use of fossil fuel. He was able to harness the fuel from the ground and utilized it with cost-efficient methods of extraction, delivery, and application. As a consequence of successful application of scientific knowledge, mankind was able to experience progress never before known since the history of the world.

Cities were created virtually overnight as factories were built around locomotive stations that carry people and raw materials needed by manufacturing facilities. Towns and suburbs were established to accommodate the number of workers that migrated from the rural areas to the cities. They are attracted to the idea of stable salaries as opposed to unpredictable nature of farm work.

As cities expand the solution to the problem of mobility was the automobile that enable workers to live outside the city and commute back and forth to work. Transportation costs include not only the value of the automobile but the fuel needed to transport people and goods. Houses require more than a kitchen, bedroom and dining room.

The modern home requires electricity to power the numerous gadgets it contains. It did not take long before industrialized countries like the United States needed to import petroleum products from petroleum producing countries like those that can be found in the Middle East.

One day, everyone realized that they can no longer afford the cost of gasoline. But the most problematic issue is the idea that someday there will be no fossil fuel to power cars, homes and electronic gadgets that 21st century people cannot live without (Satterlee 1).

Wind Energy

Aside from being expensive and the unreliability of supply, there is another problematic aspect of burning fossil fuel and it is the environmental impact that degrades the environment and human life. Thus, it is not enough to discover a new source of energy. The next important issue is to find one that is cheap and renewable. In this regard, wind power fits all the requirements mentioned earlier.

Another alternative source of energy that is clean and inexhaustible is wind power. Much better than solar power, wind power requires very little scientific know how to build and use. The scientific basis of wind turbines is that it uses turbines just liked those that can be found in airplanes. As the wind blows it turns the wind turbine.

The wind turbine is connected to a shaft. The continuous movement of the mechanism within the shaft enables a nearby electric generator to produce electricity. At first glance, wind energy seems to be the perfect solution because it doe not require any form of fossil fuel to operate (Walsh 1). But there are problems that must not be ignored.

The first problem is that wind is unpredictable. A non-scientific observation of wind and breeze may lead a person to conclude that a breeze or a gust of strong wind seems to be a regular occurrence in a relatively windy area. But in reality there are times when there is no wind to drive the turbines (Burton & Jenkins 15).

Those who installed wind turbines to generate the energy requirement of a single home may not feel the pressure to constantly deliver energy from the source to the user. But those who installed wind turbines in order to support an industrial area may feel frustrated because of their inability to produce power for their clients.

Another problematic aspect of wind energy is the size of the wind turbines. The gigantic size of some commercial wind turbines created problems for those who wanted to preserve the natural beauty of their environment. Once a wind turbine has been established in a given area it is imperative to build others because its energy capacity is not enough to meet the demands of hundreds of households (European Wind Energy Association 24).

Another serious flaw of wind energy is in its capacity to produce energy. It was discovered that “the installed wind turbine generating capacity was so low that its output was viewed as by electricity transmission operators as negative load that supplied energy but played no part in supporting the operation of the power system and maintaining its stability.

Those who support the use of wind energy may be surprised to find out that a single gigantic sized windmill can only produce a 1 MW of electricity (Gallman 10). On the other hand the average-sized power plant that runs on fossil fuel can produce at least 200 MW of energy (Gallman 15). If one will combine this information together with the realization that there is a need to build more wind turbines because of the limited output capacity of each unit, then, there is a need to build wind farms.

It can therefore be argued that in some cases it is no longer practical to construct wind farms. Consider for instance the plan to produce 22% of the nation’s energy needs through wind farms. The initial calculation revealed that at one MW of energy per acre per year, it will require 14, 000 square miles of wind farm in order to hit that target (Gallman 14).

Another major problem of wind turbines is the way their size and structure are perceived by the members of the local community. One has to keep in mind that the windy areas are also places that are on hills and near the shore. In any town or city, the most beautiful areas are those near beachfront property and rolling hills. Thus, one can imagine the irritation by those who do no want to destroy the beauty of the natural landscape.

? A possible solution to this problem is to develop larger turbines that are more efficient in the generation of power. It is only through the design of bigger turbines that one can practically benefit from wind energy source. The only problem is that it

is more expensive to build large wind turbines. Consider for instance a typical, industrial type of turbine can reach the height of 258 feet above the water and rotor diameter can reach more than 365 feet (Gallman 12). Based on these figures one can have a general idea of how expensive a wind turbine can be from the fabrication of the turbine, to shipment and then installation.

In most cases wind turbines are installed in the water in the same way that oil rigs are constructed above water. This type of operation is not only complicated but very expensive. Another problem is the materials needed to build a wind turbine. If most of the locations are near the shore, then it will require turbines that are not only resistant to the elements but also to the corrosive power of saltwater.

Conclusion

At first glance it seems that wind energy is the best solution for the impending energy crisis that will soon affect the whole world. The dwindling supply of fossil fuel compels nations and governments to find alternative sources of energy.

Wind energy offers an inexhaustible supply of energy that does not also pollute the environment. But upon closer examination it was discovered that it is impractical to build wind farms. The problem is the lack of space; the need for expensive materials; costly installation; and costly maintenance of the same.

Works Cited

Burton, Tony and Nick Jenkins. Wind Energy Handbook. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.

European Wind Energy Association. Wind Energy. VA: Earthscan Publishers, 2009. Print.

Gallman, Philip. Green Alternative and National Energy Strategy. NC: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. Print.

Satterlee, Robert. Wind Energy an Impractical Solution. 26 Dec. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2012.
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Walsh, Bryan. “Carbon Capture Isn’t Dangerous.” Time Magazine 13 Sept. 2011:12. Print. .