1 A. Thesis Statement
Is wind power green?
Wind power, considered a 'green energy', has generally less negative effects on the environment; however, various implementations can have devastating ecological impact and ought to be avoided. Only with a realistic and critical analysis can we compare wind power to other sources.
II. Wind power compared to other sources of power (Independent of environmental impact).
What is the net energy analysis of wind power, independent of environmental impact? In other words, compare the energy delivered to a society to "the total energy required to find, extract, process, deliver, and otherwise upgrade that energy to a socially useful form" (Cleveland, 2007). Knowing that some of the arguments against ethanol as a viable alternative were that it would take more energy to produce than we would receive, is wind actually a viable source of power?
1 A. Supporting Evidence
1) The Energy Payback Ratio (EPR) is "the amount of electrical energy produced for the lifetime of the power plant divided by the total amount of energy required to procure and transport the materials, build, operate, and decommission the power plants" (White, 2006). The higher the EPR, the greater the energy gain a technology creates. Based on studying three wind power sites, the EPR for utility-scale wind systems range from 11 to 28 as compared to 11 for coal and between 7 and 10 for nuclear (White, 2006). 2)
An additional study looks at the energy return on investment (EROI), which is "the ratio of energy delivered to energy costs" (Cleveland, 2007). With regards to wind power, the cost is the primary energy used in the manufacture, transport, construction, operation, decommissioning, and other stages of the facility's life cycle (attach figure)" (Cleveland, 2007). Reviewing 119 wind turbines from 50 different analyses ranging from 1977 to 2006 show an average EROI of operational studies to be 19.8 (n=60, std. dev=13.7). Increasing the power rating of the turbine increases the EROI (attach figure), despite requiring a greater initial energy investment, due to the turbines having greater rotor diameters and also due to technology improving the effectiveness of larger turbines over smaller ones. Also, larger turbines are often taller and take advantage of the higher winds that exist farther above the ground.
3) Why does this not show economically if wind power has the greatest EROI?
1. "Conventional economic perception of the 'value' of primary energy resources is...