Making a case for wind power!
The Encyclopedia Article on Wind Power
Adapted & Distilled from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power
The total amount of economically extractable power available from the wind is considerably more than present human power use from all sources. This means that we can actually move away from coal and oil towards a clean and renewable energy source that is widely available day or night in thousands of population centers across the world.
Currently Installed Capacity
At the end of 2010, worldwide nameplate capacity of wind-powered generators was 197 gigawatts (GW). Wind power now has the capacity to generate 430 TWh annually, which is about 2.5% of worldwide electricity usage.
Over the past five years the average annual growth in new installations has been 27.6 percent. Wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35 percent by 2013 and 8 percent by 2018.
Wind Power Leaders
Several countries have already achieved relatively high levels of wind power penetration, such as 21% of stationary electricity production in Denmark, 18% in Portugal, 16% in Spain, 14% inIreland and 9% in Germany in 2010. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis.
Humans have been using wind power for at least 5,500 years to propel sailboats and sailing ships. Windmills have been used for irrigation pumping and for milling grain since the 7th century AD in what is now Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan
In the US, Charles F. Brush produced electricity using a wind powered machine, starting in the winter of 1887-1888, which powered his home and laboratory until about 1900. In the 1890s, the Danish scientist and inventor Poul la Cour constructed wind turbines to generate electricity, which was then used to produce hydrogen. These were the first of what was to become the modern form of wind turbine.
Economics of Wind Power
A 2011 report from the American Wind Energy Association stated, "Wind's costs have dropped over the past two years, in the range of 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour recently.... about 2 cents cheaper than coal-fired electricity, and more projects were financed through debt arrangements than tax equity structures last year.... winning more mainstream acceptance from Wall Street's banks.... Equipment makers can also deliver products in the same year that they are ordered instead of waiting up to three years as was the case in previous cycles.... 5,600 MW of new installed capacity is under construction in the United States, more than double the number at this point in 2010. Thirty-five percent of all new power generation built in the United States since 2005 has come from wind, more than new gas and coal plants combined, as power providers are increasingly enticed to wind as a convenient hedge against unpredictable commodity price moves."
Modern wind power is an emerging industry with tremendous potential. Sustainable energy is absolutely critical to future economic growth and globalization. Wind is free, the devices we use to capture and convert the wind into electricity are expensive. The efficiency of these devices and the scale of their production directly affects the price of the power produced.
Advances made in software, power electronics, and computer aided design are giving rise to innovations in the wind sector that have made it more feasible that the cheapest of dirty fossil fuels, coal. With wind power prices lower than coal prices, the economic case for wind power has become attractive to all sorts of institutions, utilities, commercial and residential customers. It was the agricultural sector in the USA that first made use of wind to perform irrigation pumping, a task that is energy intensive because of waters mass.
One of the primary problems facing wind power is our inability to feasibly store power. Wind power is not a consistent resource, it is highly variable, and it changes based on a wide range of weather and climate factors that are completely outside the scope of human control. We critically need to develop technology and innovations to feasibly store industrial grid class amounts of power if renewables like wind and solar are going to displace coal and natural gas to any significant extent.
Fossil fueled power plants can be actively throttled according to grid loads and are able to run continuously. Renewables like Wind Power need to be able to match this kind of functional performance through the integration of feasible fast flux high capacity high energy and power storage technology.
One interesting area of power storage potential is in the secondary life of electric automotive lithium batteries. When the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster and other battery electric vehicles wear their primary energy storage batteries down, these batteries become functionally obsolescent for use in a vehicle, but they can continue function as energy storage devices for many more years. Utilities can make agreements to buy these batteries from Nissan and Tesla and others. At the ends of the batteries life, they can then be recycled and made into new products. I find this interesting that sustainable transportation technology in electric vehicles will actually become part of our sustainable grid energy solutions of the future.
Investing In Our Future
Through investing in renewable energy we gain the capacity to build a brighter and sustainable future where innovation and creativity can thrive. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: we are getting better at doing more with less impact. Innovations bring progress and economic growth. We can and we must continue investing in renewable energy because these investments will pay us back repetitively well into the distant future. With coal, gas and oil we burn it once and its gone, releasing toxic pollution in the process. With wind power we create jobs and sustainable energy that will allow society to continue thriving rather than merely surviving in the future when fossil fuels are a distant memory.