Wind Turbine Power Counterpoint

 

I have become interested in the use of wind turbine farms that are springing up for producing electrical power. This article will look at some of the present facts.

See Panoramic Photos of an Illinois Wind Turbine Farm located near Paw Paw, Illinois.

 

At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 94.1 gigawatts or approximately1% of world-wide electricity use. The largest producers account for approximately 19% of electricity production in Denmark, 9% in Spain and Portugal, and 6% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland (2007 data). Globally, wind power generation increased more than fivefold between 2000 and 2007. Wind power available in the atmosphere is much greater than current world energy consumption. The most comprehensive study to date found the potential of wind power on land and near-shore to be equivalent to 54,000 MToE (million tons of oil equivalent) per year, or over five times the world’s current energy use in all forms.

 

Cost per unit of energy produced was estimated in 2006 to be comparable to the cost of new generating capacity in the United States for coal and natural gas: wind cost was estimated at $55.80 per MWh, coal at $53.10/MWh and natural gas at $52.50. In the United States, wind power receives a tax credit for each kilowatt-hour produced; at 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2006. Without this tax credit there would be little new wind power generation in the US.

 

Advantages

 

  1. Wind power is nearly pollution free.
  2. Wind power is intermittent and unpredictable.
  3. Wind power allows for greater electrical power diversity.
  4. Reduced environmental impact for electrical power.

Disadvantages

 

  1. Electricity from wind remains costlier than that generated from fossil fuels.
  2. Aesthetic and wildlife issues have led to opposition emerging around the country.
  3. Wind farms require wind speed (min 6 m/s) and large tracts of space.
  4. Lack of electrical-grid capacity to carry the power from the isolated places.
  5. Much of the boom in the United States is being driven by foreign power companies with experience developing wind projects.
  6. Wind energy will not reduce US oil dependence.
  7. There are pitfalls in wind energy cost analysis.

 

From the facts, it appears that wind turbine power will be a viable source as long as there is a tax advantage or financial support. Wind energy costs can be cut substantially if a wind project is owned by a utility, and could also be sharply reduced if wind developers could obtain the same financing terms as gas power plant developers.

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.

Some more interesting articles: 

  1. Largest wind turbine.
  2. Wind power info.
  3. Delaware offshore wind farm.
  4. Great Lakes Wind over water.
  5. Wind Power poised for significant growth.
  6. Machine Design Editorial: The Economics of Renewable Energy
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