Free Term Paper on Wind Energy

Wind power comes from turbines that generate electricity. Proponents assert that wind power can be harnessed to be a nonpolluting, renewable source of energy to meet electric power needs around the world, but some communities do not want the turbines near homes or schools. The turbines can create noise that studies show causes headaches in some people and death for some animals, including goats and wildlife. In cold climates a turbine’s blades can throw ice and snow. Sometimes the variation in wind turbulence can cause traditional fan blades to come off.

Outline

I. Introduction

II. Wind into Electricity

III. Environmental Effects

IV. New Technology Raises Appeal

V. Conclusion

I. Introduction

Wind power is a form of renewable energy. As portions of the earth are heated by the sun, the heated air rises, and air rushes to fill low-pressure areas, creating wind. The wind is slowed as it brushes the ground so it may not feel windy at ground level. The power in the wind might be five times greater at the height of the blade tip on a large, modern wind turbine. Entire areas of a region might be very windy while other areas are relatively calm. The majority of people do not live in high-wind areas, although climate change could increase that number.

II. Wind into Electricity

Wind PowerWind generates electricity as it moves the blades of a windmill or wind turbine. In a modern, large-scale wind turbine, the wind is converted to rotational motion by a rotor, which is a three-bladed assembly at the top of the wind turbine. The rotor turns a shaft that enters a gearbox that greatly increases the rotational shaft speed. The output shaft is connected to a generator that converts the rotational movement into electricity.

The wind resource in the United States is vast. Proponents claim there is theoretically enough wind fl owing across the United States to supply all of our electricity needs if today’s technology is used to harness it. Assuming access to the national electric grid, windy North Dakota alone could supply over 40 percent of the nation’s electricity. Off – shore sites in the mid-Atlantic region were recently identified by Google and various other corporate partners as forming the basis of a proposed 6,000-MW wind energy system to be developed beginning in 2013. Currently, however, less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity is supplied by wind power.

III. Environmental Effects

One of wind energy’s important benefits is its minimal effect on the environment. In the United States, most electricity is produced from coal and other fossil fuels (70 percent), nuclear energy (20 percent), and hydroelectric sources (dams), which have a greater effect on the environment. There has been some controversy about the noise the wind turbines make.

Recently there has been major technological innovation in the design of multidirectional, conical turbines. Some engineers claim to have designed them small enough to fit on top of rooftops in urban areas. Cities such as Chicago have great interest in these “microturbines,” but there are many skeptics. An emerging issue is the government regulation of microturbines on urban rooftops. Given the density of the unit in urban areas it is unlikely that every building could harness the wind energy. The buildings would have to be able to take both the weight of the units and the stress of wind turbulence. Nonetheless, many engineers and builders think that lighter and stronger materials will address these problems. There is promise of rapid technological advancement increasing the efficiency and safety of wind power.

IV. New Technology Raises Appeal

Technological advancements in wind turbines and in other ways to increase their efficiency may could them more appealing. Some experts say they can make them function on a building. Globally, wind markets are growing. The Global Wind Energy Council analyzed wind energy data from 70 nations. It reports that in 2006 total installed wind energy capacity was 74,223 megawatts (MW). In 2005, it was 59,090 MW. The wind energy market grew by 41 percent in 2006. Europe has the largest market share, with 65 percent of the total. Germany and Spain are especially involved in wind energy, and alternative, renewable energy generally. Asia had 24 percent of new installations in 2006, according to the council report. Canada increased its wind power capacity from 683 MW in 2005 to 1,459 MW in 2006. The United States has the highest new installed wind power capacity, reporting 2,454 MW in 2006. Google’s proposed Atlantic Wind Connection will, when completed, nearly triple that capacity and likely spur interest in other, similar projects.

V. Conclusion

As nonrenewable sources of energy dwindle, alternative sources must be found to replace them. Wind power is an alternative. If developed on a large scale, wind turbines could encounter community resistance because of concerns over noise and documented health effects to humans and animals.

With the development of a national policy on alternative fuels, other issues are emerging. How much money should the government invest in supporting wind power? Can a government use its power to take private property for wind turbines to generate power for community use? Would it matter if it were a private company, a utility, or a city that owned the wind turbines and/or land underneath it?

Concern about energy independence and environmental effects influences the use of wind power. Given the recent advancements in technology of wind turbines and the robust increases in global wind energy markets, it is likely that environmental controversies associated with them will increase. However, technology may be able to overcome concerns about noise and other issues.

 

Robert William Collin and Scott M. Fincher

 

Bibliography:

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