The Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

Wind energy is a renewable, non-polluting resource with a lot of potential. Currently, the U.S. only uses about 4.1% wind energy so there is room for growth. As with anything, there are pros and cons to using wind energy, but the benefits make a compelling case for its use.

The Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

The Pros

  1. Enormous Potential
    According to several independent research teams, the worldwide potential of wind power is more than 400 TW (terawatts). To put that in perspective, in 2008 the global usage of power was about 16.5 TW of power. Wind energy creates more than enough power for the entire world to function.
  2. It’s Green
    Wind energy counts as a green source because it doesn’t pollute the environment in the way that fossil fuels and nuclear power do. Although the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of the turbines generate pollution, this is on a much lower scale than current energy consumption.
  3. Renewable
    Wind is a renewable resource, unlike certain fossil fuels. We can’t reasonably run out of wind because it is naturally occurring, although certain weather patterns can slow the production of energy, which we’ll discuss in the "con" section.
  4. There is Rapid Growth in the Field
    The use of wind power is at a low percentage right now, but it is growing at approximately 25% each year. Not only does this help fight pollution and global warming, but it also helps lower the cost of installing turbines.
  5. Drop in Prices
    As the concept of wind energy has grown, so has the demand for it. Since the 1980’s, prices have dropped over 80%. Although turbines are still considered an investment, especially for homeowners, technological advances have made it more affordable. The good news is that the industry expects prices to continue falling as it becomes a more viable solution. Turbines are a bit like personal computers in that when they first came out, only the top 1% could afford them. But, with demand for more affordable options and technological advancements, the personal computer became a staple in just about every household. Wind power is moving in a similar direction.
  6. Space-Efficient
    Wind turbines are quite large, and you can’t place them too close to one another because of the blades, even on a wind farm. But, the land between each can be used for other things. Farmers could plant crops or ranchers could house cattle. This is a benefit over solar panels because the panels take up ground space that could be used more efficiently.
  7. Low Operational Costs
    Once you install a turbine, it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance in most cases. Keep in mind that low-end turbines bought at cheaper prices may require more upkeep, but in general, operational costs tend to be low. There are mechanical parts involved with a wind turbine, so owners should expect to replace those parts at some point in the future.
  8. Home Wind Power Potential
    Another plus for wind power is that people can generate their own electricity in much the same way as people do with solar panels. In fact, the potential for generation of power on a hybrid wind power and solar panel setup could allow a family to live completely off-grid, not to mention the money it would save on the electric bills. Plus, if you had a wind turbine in your backyard, you wouldn’t have to worry about blackouts and fluctuating energy prices.
The Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

The Cons

  1. Unpredictable
    The biggest disadvantage of wind power is the unpredictable availability of wind energy. Even in the windiest parts of the country, it may not be windy every day. To combat this, wind energy can be stored in batteries; however, it is an extra expense up front, and the batteries have to be properly maintained and stored. You also lose a little energy as it transfers from the turbine generator to the battery, but as a renewable resource, that’s not much of an issue.
  2. Threat to Wildlife
    Another factor to consider is the harm turbines cause to creatures that fly. There is little chance of survival if a bird collides with a rotating turbine blade. Studies estimate that the number of avian fatalities by U.S. wind turbines is up to 440,000 per year. Although that is a large number, the estimate for fatal collisions with buildings is up to 976 million per year. There is a danger to wildlife, yes. But, it is not as extreme as some activists have made it out to be.
  3. Noise
    A large piece of machinery that rotates with the wind is going to make noise, that’s a given. It can be a problem for people who live near turbine farms or neighbors of homeowners with one in their backyard. New designs show an improvement in the noise factor, but building wind turbines in urban areas should be avoided.
  4. Aesthetics
    Turbines have a distinctive look and either you like them or you don’t. Although they have a significantly modern look compared to old-fashioned windmills, they can clash with the aesthetics of a property. Turbines built in urban areas can cause issues with homeowners associations who take the aesthetics of the neighborhood seriously. You should consider whether the addition of a turbine will add value to your home, or if you’re just fighting an uphill battle.
  5. Cost
    Although the cost of turbines is decreasing every year, they are still a hefty investment for many people, both commercially and residentially. It will take several years to break even from the upfront costs, and in some cases, that may not be worth it to homeowners.
The Pros and Cons of Wind Energy

At the end of the day, wind power promises more advantages than disadvantages. There are other possibilities, such as offshore wind farms, that will even help take some of the disadvantages off the table. The industry is moving in a direction that will help Americans sustain their energy needs without polluting the planet, and frankly, that is an advantage that ensures the environment for future generations. Those are the decisions we should make today.

The Economic Benefit of Clean Air Technology

Clean air technology is about more than preserving the Earth for future generations. While pouring time and money into developing more widespread clean air and wind technology does provide jobs for the economy, it goes deeper than that to provide a “trickle down” effect.

The Economic Benefit of Clean Air Technology

For most of America, power is still generated with the use of coal burning plants. Workers who are exposed to this type of an environment have a higher risk of developing a number of health issues, including: heart disease leading to a heart attack, asthma, lung cancer, and a number of other health issues as a direct result of the soot and pollutants that come with the territory.

The Economic Benefit of Clean Air Technology

Making a real effort to clean up the air in America not only reduces the risk of developing these health issues for the workers themselves, but can also help improve the health of Americans in general. With 25% less sulfur dioxide, mercury, and nitrogen oxide in the air, the population will be healthier, which means fewer medical bills. Fewer medical bills translate to less of a burden on local and state government assistance programs, more dollars free to spend in other areas of the economy, and more productive citizens who don’t miss work due to illness.

The Economic Benefit of Clean Air Technology

Additionally, in areas such as Texas where natural disasters are common, fewer greenhouse emissions means the area could experience fewer, and less intense natural disasters, improving the economy by reducing the amount of money needed for recovery.

How You Can Help the Clean Air Initiative at Home

The Clean Air Act originally passed in 1955 to control pollution on a national level, and since then there have been several major revisions to the act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was tasked with developing and enforcing regulations to protect the public and the environment. The main focus in recent years has been reducing the amount of air pollution caused by emissions. There are several ways you can help with this initiative.

How You Can Help the Clean Air Initiative at Home

At Home

When you’re at home, conserve your energy. If you’re not connected to a wind powered grid, consuming electricity creates pollution. Choose green electricity, solar power, or if it’s available in your area, wind power. Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum as this reduces production emissions. Also use low-VOC or water-based paints, stains, finishes, and paint strippers to reduce smog and improve indoor air quality.

How You Can Help the Clean Air Initiative at Home

While Driving

The best way to improve emissions while driving is to plan your trips wisely. Combine errands into one trip, car pool whenever possible, and keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. Also ensure that you properly maintain your vehicle to keep emissions as low as possible. If it’s available, consider using public transportation, walking, or ride a bike.

How You Can Help the Clean Air Initiative at Home

Even the little changes we make in our lives can add up to a big difference over time. The more awareness people have about the issue, the greater impact they can make. Incorporate a few of these changes now to help conserve our environment.

The Basics of Wind Energy

Wind energy is a renewable resource that is an affordable alternative to electricity. Currently, the United States only gets 4.1% of its electricity from wind, although some states use much more than that. Relying on wind energy not only reduces air pollution, but it decreases our dependence on coal and other fossil fuels. It cuts global warming emissions and moves the country toward a healthier future.

The Basics of Wind Energy

What is wind energy?

Wind energy is natural wind caught from our atmosphere and converted into mechanical energy and then electricity. Farmers used this power centuries ago with the help of windmills. The windmill would capture the wind and use it to pump water or ground grain. In today’s landscape, engineers have converted windmills into powerful wind turbines that work in much the same way, only on a bigger scale. Wind turbines range in size and power capabilities, and they harness the kinetic energy of the wind to turn it into electricity. For example, an 80-foot-tall turbine can power a single home while a 250-foot-tall turbine can power hundreds of homes.

How does it work?

A wind turbine has three blades attached to a large column. When the wind blows passed a turbine, the blades rotate and capture the energy. This rotation triggers an internal shaft to spin, which is connected to a gearbox that speeds up the rotation. The gearbox connects to a generator, and as the internal shaft speeds up, the generator produces electricity. Turbines have wind assessment equipment so they automatically rotate into the face of the wind, allowing the blades to optimize energy capture. Once the generator has electricity, it will either pass to a power grid or a private residence.

The Basics of Wind Energy

How does the electricity get to end users?

In places where end users get wind powered electricity, that power still comes from an electric company, unless an individual has their own turbine. Wind turbines are usually clumped together in a windy area that has been through a development process. This interconnected group of wind turbines, called a wind farm, functions like a power plant except that it uses wind instead of coal or other fossil fuels. The turbines connect to the power grid so that as the electricity is harnessed from the wind, it transfers directly to the power grid. Once it is on the main power grid, electric companies deliver the electricity to homes and businesses through a network of transmission and distribution lines. The transmission lines allow the electricity to travel long distances, for example, from the main power grid to a city power grid. The distribution lines deliver the electricity directly to your home.

The Basics of Wind Energy

As you can see, wind power has the potential to help Americans cut costs, reduce pollution, and reduce dependence on a finite resource. Although developers have to find suitable conditions to build a wind farm, the current estimate of wind energy potential is 10 times the amount of electricity consumption for the entire country. It is a resource we should further develop.

Stand-Alone vs. Grid-Connected Wind Turbines

If you are considering investing in a wind turbine to power your home, an important decision is whether to use a standalone application or a grid connected system.

Stand-Alone Systems

Stand-alone systems are an ideal choice for your home, farm, or communities built away from utility lines. To qualify for a standalone system, you must live in an area that has an average annual wind speed of at least 9 mph. This is a good choice if you live in an area where a grid connection is unavailable or can only be made through an expensive extension.

Grid-Connected Systems

Grid connection systems are designed to reduce your consumption of electricity from your utility company. These are ideal in situations where a wind turbine system cannot produce the energy you require to run your home. You will not notice a difference in power availability because the utility company will make up for it.

Stand-Alone vs. Grid-Connected Wind Turbines

On the other side of the coin, if the wind turbine produces more power than you need, you can sell it back to the utility company which earns you money. In either case, you are dramatically reducing your power bill. Grid connected systems require average annual wind speeds of at least 10 mph. This type of system is ideal if your utility company provides power at an expensive rate, and if they you can connect to the grid at an affordable price.

Stand-Alone vs. Grid-Connected Wind Turbines

Before installing a wind turbine system, it is important to review legal and environmental barriers in your area. Height restrictions may violate homeowners association rules, and you may not have the wind resource available at your site.

Low-VOC and Natural Paint Options

The clean air movement spurred many industries into action to improve their technologies. Everything from car equipment to paint improved, and not just for the environment, though that is important, too. The EPA required companies to develop these improvements because emissions and high levels of volatile organic compounds contribute to a range of health problems for humans.

Low-VOC and Natural Paint Options

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

The smell of paint often ranks up there with fresh cut grass and gasoline for things that smell good to people. The problem with paint is that the average household paint contains up to 10,000 chemicals. 300 of those chemicals are known toxins and 150 of them have been linked to cancer.

Some of the most harmful chemicals in the bunch are volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s. They are unstable, and contain carbon compounds that readily vaporize into the air. Once they hit the air, they react with other chemicals to create ozone, which causes air pollution and health problems. People who inhale ozone often complain of headaches, difficulty breathing, burning or watery eyes, and nausea. Studies show that VOC’s have also been linked to kidney and liver damage, and in severe cases, cancer.

Paint is the second largest source of VOC emissions into the atmosphere, which makes it a big offender. Indoor VOC levels tend to run about 10 times higher than outdoor levels, which is saying something since automobiles are the number one source of VOC emissions. VOC levels are about 1,000 times higher directly after painting, and they continue to seep out for several years.

Paint Components

You may wonder why, if VOC’s are so dangerous, did paint manufacturers allow them to remain on the market. The answer is because VOC’s were believed to be an important part of the paint’s ability to perform.

Paint has three main components: pigment, binders, and solvents. Pigment is what gives the paint its color. Binders help the pigment stick to the applied surface. Solvents keep the paint in liquid form so it’s easier to apply; however, it is the biggest contributor to high VOC levels. The solvent evaporates quickly so that it leaves the pigment and solvent behind, which means the walls need fewer applications of paint. This process releases VOC’s in large doses.

Low-VOC and Natural Paint Options

Solvents are either oil-based or water-based. Oil-based solvents release higher levels of VOC, and have a wide range of chemicals mixed in. They’re easier to work with in some cases, but the health risks outweigh the convenience factor. It is also worth noting that switching to a water-based solvent doesn’t necessarily get rid of the VOC’s and toxins as the pigment and binder also contain VOC’s.

To combat this issue, the EPA has put pressure on the industry to come up with safer products. That’s where low-VOC and no-VOC paints have come in. The EPA warns that just because the paint has a low-VOC label doesn’t mean it hasn’t gotten rid of the other toxins as well.

Low-VOC and No-VOC Paints

According to the EPA, in order for a paint company to include a low-VOC paint label on its products, the level of VOC must be less than 250 grams per liter (g/L) for latex and flat-finish paints, and less than 380 g/L for oil-based and other paints. In order for the paint to be classified as no-VOC paint, it must contain less than 5 g/L across the board.

Low-VOC and Natural Paint Options

Most low-VOC paints that come from reputable dealers tend to have less than 50 g/L, but you have to remember that the numbers on the can only represent the g/L in the solvents, and don’t include pigments or other additives. In some cases, the pigment can add up to 10 g/L of VOC’s. Despite the progress some manufacturers have made with low-VOC and no-VOC paints, these lower levels do not mean the paint is free from other toxins such as carcinogens, heavy metals, and formaldehyde-donors.

Green Seal

There are some paints that meet high environmental standards, though, and these paints carry the Green Seal. If you’re not familiar with the company, Green Seal is a non-profit environmental organization that certifies products and services as environmentally friendly. The company’s standards are strict, and the expectations of what is considered "green" go beyond what the EPA allows.

In order for paints to qualify for the Green Seal, the VOC levels must be below 100 g/L for non-flat finish and 50 g/L for a flat finish. The VOC limit for primers and floor paints is also 100 g/L, and reflective wall coatings must remain below 50 m/L. The Green Seal requires that company’s remove many of the harmful toxins and chemical compounds within the paint, too. As an added bonus, paints must also meet performance requirements such as abrasion resistance and washability.

Natural Paint

There are other measures homeowners can take when it comes to painting. Despite Green Seal’s best efforts, the paints with their seals still contain toxins. As clean air technology improves over time, paint will improve as well. But, in the meantime, another alternative is natural paint. Individuals and green companies make them from naturally occurring materials such as clay and linseed oil. Since they do not use synthetic materials, these paints are low in VOC’s. It is important to keep in mind that some natural paints contain VOC’s unregulated by the EPA. Citrus oils abd terpenes are the most prominent in natural paints, and although these are not nearly as harmful as the chemicals in regular paint, they can aggravate people with chemical sensitivities.

Regardless of whether you choose low-VOC, no-VOC, or natural paints, they might all contain toxins or metals that are bad for your health. Always check the ingredients on the label so you know what you’re getting. Another factor to consider is that low-VOC paints and other alternatives may not perform as well as regular paints. Many of them do, but it depends on what the manufacturer used as the solvent. This will make it more difficult to apply, but not impossible. The important thing to understand is that advancement in clean air technologies provide more options to protect the environment and your health.

The Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act, first established in 1970 is the federal law that regulates air emissions from both stationary (power plants, factories, etc.) and mobile sources (cars, trucks, vans, etc.). The law authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) designed to protect public health and welfare while regulating the emissions of hazardous pollutants. The act was established with the main goal of setting and achieving NAAQS in all states by 1975 to address public health risks posed by certain pollutants.

Amendments to the Clean AIr Act

The 1977 amendment was made to establish new date goals for achieving NAAQS standards, as many states did not meet the deadlines set forth in the initial act.

The Clean Air Act

The 1990 amendment was also made as an effort to establish new date goals for achieving NAAQS standards. The 1990 amendment also revised a section of the act to require issuance of technology-based standards for major sources, defined as a stationary source or group of sources that have the potential to emit either 10 tons or more of a hazardous air pollutant annually, or the potential to emit 25 tons or more of a combination of hazardous air pollutants.

Controlling Common Pollutants

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has set air quality standards for six common pollutants:

  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Lead

Lead was removed from gasoline in the mid-1970s. Vehicle manufacturers are required to build cleaner engines. Fuel refineries are required to produce cleaner fuels. Through this multifaceted approach, a vehicle purchased new today is 90% cleaner than a vehicle that was purchased new in the 1970s. Even non-road equipment, such as lawn and garden equipment and recreational vehicles are now under regulation to produce cleaner and more efficient engines. In 2006, refiners were required to supply gasoline with lower sulfur levels, reducing the sulfur content by 90%. These rules also apply to diesel fuel. The goal is to reduce the overall sulfur emissions from vehicles currently on the road.

States must adopt enforceable plans to ensure they meet air quality standards. States are also required to control emissions that may drift across state lines and affect the air quality in neighboring states.

This means states must create plans to deal with vehicle emissions, as well as emissions from power plants and other stationary facilities that release pollutants into the air. Many states have adopted vehicle emissions inspections, which require a vehicle to pass emissions testing before becoming legal to drive. State laws and requirements vary, but North Carolina does not allow for vehicle registration to be renewed without a passed inspection within 90 days of renewal. There are exemptions to the rule, such as: vehicles 35 years or older, vehicles manufactured prior to 1996, vehicles licensed under the farmer rate, and diesel powered vehicles.

The Clean Air Act

Other Provisions of the Act

The act also contains other regulations to address any hazardous or toxic air pollutants that pose risks to the public, such as cancer or environmental threats. They must also address acid rain that may damage the environment as well as chemical emissions that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. These stratospheric ozone layer is what protects us from eye damage and skin cancer. They are also required to address regional haze that affects visibility in national parks and other common recreational areas.

Since pollution problems cannot always be forecasted, Congress created the act with general guidelines and authorities that are used to address problems that emerge over time, including the greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming and climate change.

Is the Clean Air Act Working?

The short answer is yes. As time moves on, the Clean Air Act will continuously reduce overall air pollution, but it does take time for many of the act’s provisions to show their full impact. When the government requires any source of pollution to adopt some sort of control measure, results can be seen right away. However, when it comes to cars and trucks, it can take several years for old vehicles to retire from the road before the full effect of cleaning up the roads can be seen.

The Clean Air Act

To learn more about how well the Clean Air Act is working in your area, monitor air quality reports. You can request reports from the EPA, state, local, or tribal monitoring facilities that will show you how air quality has improved over time. Alternatively, you can rely on the Air Quality Index (AQI) to assess how clean the areas are. The AQI is specific to your local area and ranges from green to purple corresponding with specific pollution levels. Code Orange and Code Red air quality days indicate potentially dangerously high levels of a certain pollutant. As time goes on, we can expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number of code orange or code red air quality days we see.

Clean Energy Sources and Their Impact

As we continue to shift our focus away from coal and nuclear power sources and turn to solar, wind, biofuel, and other forms of alternative energy, we will continue to see it reflected in our overall air quality. While alternative forms of energy are not yet completely mainstream, the more we work to shift to wind power and other alternatives, the less greenhouse gas we are emitting into the atmosphere. With less greenhouse gas, we are fighting against global warming, while also reducing the frequency and severity of natural disasters. We are protecting public health by reducing exposure to pollutants and other irritants that can lead to a number of health issues, and overall giving back to the economy.

Under the Clean Air Act, the development and sale of alternative fuels is encouraged. This includes everything from natural gas and propane to methanol, biodiesel, and electricity. By producing these alternative energies domestically, we add additional benefit for our economy and help offset the cost of imported oil.

While it does take billions of dollars in research, technological development, demonstration, and implementation, the investments we make in clean energy now will have a dramatic impact on air quality in the future.

How Wind Technology Works

The “invisible” force of nature we know as wind is without a doubt one of the cleanest ways to harness energy. Using wind to generate electricity does not produce any sort of toxic byproduct or release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to contribute to global warming. Add the abundance of wind we have available for energy harnessing power, and you have one of the most efficient alternatives to fossil fuels available today. There’s a reason wind power is the fastest growing source of electricity in the world – but let’s take a closer look at how it works.

Wind Speed Assessment and Ideal Conditions

The higher the wind speed, the more energy there is to harness. Wind speeds are classified from one to seven, with one being the lowest, and seven being the highest. Before wind power can be installed, an assessment must be done on the land to determine the average wind speed in the area.

How Wind Technology Works

Wind turbines are designed to operate within a range of wind speeds. When wind is too slow, there isn’t enough power to turn the turbine, but when wind is too strong, the turbines have to shutdown to avoid damage. To harness wind power, you’ll need to be in an area where the average wind speed is at least three – 6.7 – 7.4 meters per second (m/s) – to generate power that is economical.

How Wind Technology Works

Wind Turbine Technology

Wind turbines are manufactured in a number of sizes and configurations, to provide variety to better address the variances in wind availability across multiple geographic areas. Wind turbines essential work opposite of a fan. Rather than using electricity to generate wind, the wind turbine uses wind to generate energy.

Two types of wind turbines are available – vertical and horizontal axis. Wind turns the blades, and then spins into a shaft, connected to a generator to convert the kinetic energy of the wind turbine into mechanical, or electrical energy.

How Wind Technology Works

Turbines are sized by their potential electrical output, with the smallest utility turbines being around 100 kilowatts, while the largest ones are more than a megawatt. The larger scale turbines are commonly grouped together to produce enough energy to power the electrical grid in the surrounding area. There are turbines available that are smaller than 100 kilowatts, but these are typically reserved for powering homes, telecommunications satellites, or water pumps.

Hybrid wind technology systems are also common. These systems are a combination of wind power, used with either a diesel generator or a battery backup. These systems are most often used in remote areas where no connection to the main power grid is available. From an environmental standpoint, this is not as clean as pure wind energy, but it is better than relying solely on diesel to produce energy.

Wind Speed Variability Issues

Because wind speeds can vary dramatically in certain locations, wind farms in locations where wind consistently blows, can offset the deficiencies in other areas. Wind is always blowing somewhere, so it is important for wind turbines to be distributed across broad geographic areas. The more distribution we have in areas where wind is consistent, the less issues there will be with the variability of wind speed and resulting electricity output.

Many utility companies are already showing that wind energy makes a significant contribution to the electric grid without issues of reliability. Xcel energy, a power company that serves close to 3 Ѕ million customers across eight states has a portfolio of more than 4,000 MW. In Colorado alone, the company relied on wind power to provide more than half of the electricity on many nights when winds were strong and the power demand was low. Xcel produced 37% of its electricity from wind power in Minnesota under similar conditions.

In Europe, there are several areas where wind power provides more than a fifth of the electricity without any adverse effects on the system’s reliability. In Germany, three states have wind electricity covering at least 40% of their grid.

Where the United States is on Wind Power

Since 2011, the Department of Energy has budgeted more than $227 million to offshore wind research development and demonstration. The funding is focused on development of technology, accelerating the market, and technology demonstration.

In 2012, the United States installed 31,351 MW of wind power. This amount of power is capable of providing electricity to more than 3 million homes. At the time, wind energy accounted for slightly less than 4% of total United States electricity for the year. However, it generates more than 10% of the electricity across nine states.

Wind capacity grew by 10% between 2012 and 2014. It is expected to increase by 23% between 2014 and 2016. Though wind starts at a higher base than solar, the growth rate is slower. Even with the slower growth rate, the increase in capacity is more than twice that of solar power. It is expected that total renewables for electricity and heat generation will grow by 3.3% in 2015 alone. This figure includes not only wind power, but also: solar, geothermal, liquid biofuels, hydropower, and other biomass options.

The United States Department of Energy Wind Program funds research to develop offshore wind technologies. Current data available suggests more than 4,000,000 MW of capacity could be generated in our state and federal waters along the coasts of the United States and the Great Lakes. The full potential will not be realistically developed, but the magnitude represents a substantial opportunity to generate more clean air technology near coastal populations.

Globally, the United States has a lot of work to do if it wants to catch up with the progress being made in Europe. Overall, the entire world has a significant amount of progress to make in developing wind technology to make it more widely available. We are making strides in the right direction, that it could be several more years before wind power becomes mainstream. As technology continues to develop, we expect wind turbines to become more efficient and cost effective.

Home Powered Wind

If you’ve ever had an expensive electric bill, you’ve probably considered generating your own electricity in the hopes of saving money. One of the first things that may have come to mind was wind power. It is possible to harness wind energy to power your home. Under the right circumstances, wind energy is a renewable, non-polluting option that can save you money.

Home Powered Wind

There is a ‘but’ in that, though. It takes more than just living in a windy area to ensure wind power is right for you. In fact, many properties in the United States aren’t a good fit for individual turbines. For home turbines to be worth the investment, you need at least an acre of land. Living in residential neighborhoods also presents issues with zoning, and possible conflicts with homeowners associations. Rural areas are better than urban areas.

If you want to live off-grid, wind and solar power are the way to go. In fact, renewable-energy experts recommend installing hybrid wind and solar energy systems for off-grid living. The two complement each other well because of their availability at different times. Additionally, this setup reduces your carbon footprint and insulates you from future energy insecurities.

Home Powered Wind

Home turbine costs vary, but you can spend anywhere from $500-$4,000. The average cost of a home solar electric system costs a little over $10,000. You can also find hybrid packages ranging from $5,000-$10,000. You can also expect battery and equipment maintenance costs, but even those may be cheaper than paying a monthly electric bill. Be sure to research all of your options to find one that makes the most financial sense for you.

4 Facts About Wind Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

Wind power is purely amazing. Let’s look at some facts about it you probably didn’t know. The more we learn about the mechanics and efficiency of wind power, the easier it will become to spread the technology further.

4 Facts About Wind Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

Turbines are Hitting Record Sizes

In 2013, average turbine rotor diameter hit 97 meters. This represents a 103% increase since 1998. The larger the turbine, the more energy it can harness from the wind, so increasing sizes will help increase overall energy production. The taller the turbine, the better it can reach high altitudes where higher wind speeds are. Turbines can be even taller than the Statue of Liberty.

4 Facts About Wind Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

WInd Power is Good for the Job Market

The majority of the 8,000 components that go into a single wind turbine are produced right here on American soil. Throughout the United States, there are more than 500 manufacturing plants dedicated to the wind industry. Together, these employ more than 50,000 workers.

4 Facts About Wind Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

The U.S. is Second in Global Wind Energy Generation

We produce more wind energy than any other country, except China. In the last 7 years, the United States produced 33% of all new installations. As of the end of 2013, the United States had more than 61 gigawatts of wind power – capable of providing power for almost 16 million homes for an entire year. Not only is this more than the total homes in California – it’s also a 20x capacity increase since 2000. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, our wind projects account for 5.7% of total electric generation capacity.

WInd Energy is More Affordable Than Ever

Wind power contracts signed in 2013, and the price power companies are willing to pay for energy from customers or wind farms show wind power is becoming increasingly more affordable. Prices in some areas of the country are as low as 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour – the lowest price on record for the U.S Department of Energy’s yearly Wind Technologies Market Report.

4 Facts About Wind Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

To put this in perspective for you, recent data shows electricity prices are at an all-time high, In December 2014, the average price per kilowatt hour was 13.5 cents. Just a year before, in December 2013, the average price was 13.1 cents. Prices typically peak in the summer, and in July and August of 2013, the average price was a whopping 14.3 cents. That means, if you lived in an area with the lowest wind cost of 2.5 cents, you could cut your power bill not in half, but nearly 7 times!

4 Facts About Wind Energy You Probably Didn’t Know

As the United States continues to invest in wind power, we’ll have even more facts to share. The more widespread the technology becomes, the more money we’ll be pumping into the economy in a number of ways. Increased production means increased need for workers to build and install the turbines. Power savings means consumers will have more money in their pockets to give back to the economy in other ways. Decreased emissions means healthier public, which means decreased medical expenses and strain on medical professionals. It’s truly a win-win scenario.