A Renewable Energy Source: Wind Power

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A Renewable Energy Source: Wind Power

By | June 2005
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For many years, people have been harnessing the power of wind. Wind propelled boats down water and simple windmills were used to pump water and grind grain. But credit goes to the Dutch who refined windmills so that they could drain swamps and lakes, and in the 19th century, settlers took this concept with them to the New World. There, windmills were used to pump water for farms and ranches, and later to generate electricity for homes and industry purposes. Industrialization caused a decrease in the use of wind power, but also began the development of larger windmills to produce electricity. The result, commonly called wind turbines, could have been found in Denmark as early as the 1890s.

Today, wind energy is very popular in the U.S., Spain, Denmark, and India but is mostly used in Germany. Thanks to technological advances, wind energy is the fastest growing energy source in the world. Wind power is safe for the environment and does not produce any atmospheric emission or greenhouse gases. Since wind depends on the sun, it is a form of solar energy. As long as the sun shines, there can be wind power, making it unlimited.

Wind energy is one of the lowest priced energy sources, costing 4 to 6 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour. Since the 80s, prices have dropped drastically because of technology advancement.
However, despite these fair prices, wind plants require a higher initial investment than leading energy sources because of the technology required for them. Which brings us to the drawbacks of wind power as an alternative energy source. Wind is intermittent, and does not always blow when electricity is needed. It can only be stored if you use a battery, but that is more expensive and reduces the environmental benefits of wind power. Another flaw is the location of wind plants. Most good wind sites are in rural areas, a long way from cities where electricity is most needed. Some minor, yet controversial problems include the noise that turbines create,...

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