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Wind and Solar Power

By Aleks-Tucker Oct 29, 2014 2570 Words

Aleksander Tucker
21 April 2013
ECS 310
Wind and Solar Power
Wind and solar power are the future. They are clean, renewable, and infinite sources of energy and allow for energy to be produced domestically. They are also complimentary; Wind and solar energy will also be economically beneficial. Maintenance is easy, and long-term cost is a great advantage. Wind turbines and solar panels can also be very aesthetically attractive, and people can comfortably live around them. Human health risk is also dramatically reduced when using wind and solar power as an alternative to burning fossil fuels. Wind and solar power can be the messiah of the earth. Solar power is the process for converting sunlight into heat and or electricity. In the case of solar panels, photovoltaics are used to convert light directly into electric current. Concentrated solar power can also be used, which is the indirect conversion of sunlight into power, like during the use of methods such as solar water heating. Solar power plants first came into use in the 1980s. Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert light directly into electric current. Solar cells produce direct current power which fluctuates depending on the intensity of the sunlight and needs to be converted to alternating current for practical use, allowing the voltage to be converted to the desired level. Solar cells are connected together inside of modules, which are wired together to form arrays. These arrays are connected to an electricity converter, which will produce power at a specified voltage and the desired frequency. Residential systems, typically those in developed countries with a large market for electricity, connect to the grid wherever it is available in their country. In these systems connected to a grid, energy does not need to be stored. In applications like satellites, lighthouses, or sometimes, in developing countries, batteries are often added as back-up power sources. These batteries allow operation off the electrical grid at night or whenever there is limited sunlight. (Donahue) Wind power is the conversion of energy from wind into useful energy. This can include electric power, mechanical power, or wind pumps. The one to focus on is electrical power. The largest wind farms are made up of hundreds of wind turbines connected to the electric power transmission network. Wind energy is the energy of air in motion in kinetic form, also known as wind. Wind energy has gradually been generated at higher altitude, as people realize how much more beneficial it is. One design is pretty standard for wind turbines—a wind turbine on a horizontal axis with a rotor with three blades facing upwind, attached to the top of a tall tower in the shape of a tapered tube. Turbines are interconnected with medium voltage system that connects power. At the substation, the medium voltage current increases in voltage with a transformer and connects to the electric power transmission system. (Weed) Unlike fossil fuel power, solar and wind power do not lead to any harmful emissions during their operation. The only impact on the environment is the initial production of the solar panels or wind turbines, which lead to a small amount of pollution. Utilizing these energy sources is the first step in eliminating our dependence on foreign energy sources, most namely oil from Canada, Venezuela, Africa, and the Middle East. If we can switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar power for energy production, dependence on fossil fuels will be greatly decreased. Then we will switch from gasoline-burning cars to electric-powered cars. Then we will have a much cleaner world. Wind and solar power are relatively minor in terms of pollution relative to fossil fuel energy. Wind farms might take up a large area of land, but they integrate easily where land is used for agriculture. Solar panels are similar in that they can be placed anywhere. If they are placed on top of building, they are using unutilized space. Unfortunately, there may be a negative ecological impact with wind turbines. Birds and bats can fly into the turbines and get caught. This is one of the few possible known negative impacts of wind turbines. If they are placed in areas with little bird and bat migration, however, there would be very little risk for mortality. We need wind and solar power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must also consider the environmental degradation that would be preventing by switching completely over to renewable energy sources. We would be able to avoid the extreme environmental degradation that accompanies coal mining, oil drilling, fracking, and other methods of extracting fossil fuels from the earth. There is no water required as in the case of fracking or cooling machinery. The cost of installing solar power producing devices follows a learning curve, dramatically decreasing over time. Solar and wind power both become more monetarily feasible with time. Photovoltaic systems use no sort of fuel of course, and they usually last 25 to 40 years (Myers). Very little maintenance is required for solar panels, so the cost of installation is almost the only cost of producing solar power and the possible cost of repairing roof-mounted panels. PV systems can typically pay back their investors in 10 to 15 years. After solar power generation pays back the cost of solar panel installation, a person can still sell the energy they continue to produce to power companies. People can easily make money simply by installing solar panels on their homes. Using PV systems is also economically feasible because it requires little labor, meaning a company that builds a solar panel array will have to pay very few salaries. There is also no work needed of the investor. Solar power is even less expensive than generating nuclear power. The average price of solar cells fell by $3.50/watt to $2.43/watt, more than 40 percent, in 2011 alone (Myers). With more large-scale installations than ever today, prices have fallen well below that number in some places. The price of solar panels dropped 30% in the past two years alone (Myers). As if that wasn’t enough, governments have created numerous financial incentives to encourage people to produce solar power. Sometimes the government refunds part of PV system installation costs. Feed-In Tariffs are also common. This is when the electricity utility buys PV electricity from a producer at a fixed rate over a set number of years. Solar power that isn’t even subsidized has become very competitive with fossil fuels in countries in Asia and Europe (Shepard). Wind turbines have great economic benefit as well. Like solar panels, there is very little maintenance and little labor is required, leaving the initial construction cost to be almost the only expense. Costs for producing wind turbines generally decrease over time as technology improves with time. In time, the cost of producing wind power will be trivial. It can take as little as three to five months (Myers) to pay back the initial cost of wind turbines, making production of wind power very profitable. There are also numerous economic incentives for producers of wind power. In many jurisdictions wind energy producers receive government subsidies to their investments. This often comes in the form of tax credits. This makes investing in wind power even more appealing. Wind and solar power are important for stimulating local economies. They create jobs and income for local communities and stimulate local economies that are in need of new infrastructure, schools, libraries, and hospitals. Having solar panels or wind turbines connected to a house not only reduces energy bills but increase’s the house’s value as well, because more energy efficient houses are worth more. The government spends so much money on subsidies for fossil fuels that if we converted to wind and solar power could be used more many much more useful purposes instead. It could instead be used to fund the development of solar and wind power technologies. The government would have more money available in its budget if it no longer had to provide oil subsidies. Fossil fuels cause more harm than they are worth. They only seem beneficial in the short term. Their long-term negative effects are never worth using them to produce energy. One must also consider resources when deciding what energy source is best to use. Fossil fuels will not be abundant forever. At the present rate of consumption, no more oil will remain on the planet in less than 50 years. It is then that we will be forced to resort to other energy sources. We will never run out of wind or sunlight as long as we exist. They are infinite energy sources that will never run out no matter how many solar panels or wind turbines are built in the world. This is the beauty of these sources of energy. You can generate as much power as you want from renewable sources. Wind and solar energy are more than capably of singlehandedly meeting global energy needs. For example, the United States has enough wind resources to produce ten times its current energy needs. The potential of hydroelectric and geothermal should be taken into account as well. This would make the need for wind power significantly less. If all of these renewable energy sources could supplement each other successfully, we would have no trouble powering our world. In addition to being economically and environmentally advantageous, wind turbines and solar panels tend to be aesthetically pleasing as well. People would much rather look at gentle wind turbines or subtle solar panels than a factory with clouds of smoke looming overhead. They are much easier to live next to. Large wind turbines and solar panels are extremely reliable. They are straightforward and simple technologies and do not become easily complicated. Once set up, little can possibly go wrong with regards to their operation. There is little risk associated with their operation as well. These technologies operate very smoothly. They are also convenient in that they can literally be placed anywhere, and thus electricity can be generated anywhere if these technologies are employed. Wind and sunlight reach everywhere on the planet, so there are tons of options as far as the placement of solar panel arrays or wind farms. Additionally, everyone has the ability to harness these forms of energy. Anyone can get solar panels or a wind turbine in their yard or on their house. This also helps to stimulate the economy, because these households get income from their electricity production. No one can get their own personal power plant. Wind turbines don’t need to work together to be useful. One may stand alone and still produce electricity. Home wind energy farms are very productive. A single large wind turbine can produce enough energy to power hundreds of homes nearby. Home wind turbines also are advantageous because they require very little space Wind and solar power are complimentary. This means they work well together and benefit from each other. Wind power is most productive at nighttime, and solar power is most productive during the day. So during the daytime, solar power is the most efficient and produces the most power. At night there is no solar energy available, but wind becomes stronger at night, increasing the energy harnessed by wind turbines. Many global problems can be avoided by switching to wind and solar power. Human health problems that result from air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels will be avoided. Dangerous mining of resources like coal will be avoided, saving human lives. Environmental degradation will be avoided. It has been proven that if we do not do something to dramatically reduce our output of carbon into the environment, extreme damage will be done to the earth. National security dilemmas could also be avoided by converting to wind and solar power. When the world’s oil resources near depletion, global tensions could erupt and fighting could break out. This would be avoided if we moved away from our current oil dependence. Oil spills, another environmental risk of oil dependence, would not be a risk if we eliminated fossil fuels as a source of energy. Air quality problems would also be eliminated. Public support for wind and solar power tends to be high in many countries across the world, because people tend to recognize the benefits of producing energy in renewable ways. Harnessing wind and solar energy will help sustain life on a planet that is degrading rapidly in its current state. Burning fossil fuels causes numerous human health problems from the resulting air pollution. Mining coal is dangerous and destroys the land from which it is mined. Using fossil fuels as a source of energy causes extreme environmental degradation. Oil energy creates national security dilemmas due to the need to protect reserves overseas. By using wind and solar power to produce meet the world’s energy needs, in time we would say goodbye to climate change, air quality problems, oil spills, and acid rain. Wind and solar power will eliminate our dependency on foreign oil. They also eliminate the environmental impact associated with the transportation of various fossil fuels. Wind and solar energy are directly converted to electricity. They don’t need to be transported somewhere before electricity is produced. This is a much more advanced and efficient way to obtain energy. Trucks don’t have to expend energy to transport an energy source if people get their energy via wind and solar power instead of fossil fuels. Wind and solar power allow people to become personally involved with the power they consume. They can harness wind and solar energy on their own and control what they do with the electricity. In some ways wind and solar power grant people freedom because it gives them an alternative way to obtain their electricity, other than the single power company that provides electricity to a certain residential area. People can separate themselves from the power grid if they wish and produce their own sustainable, renewable energy and save money for their household or business. Wind and solar energy provide the promise we need for creating a more sustainable earth. They could be the solution for us in our time of need. We need to find a way to reduce carbon emissions as soon as possible. Governments need to put more time, energy, and funding into wind and solar power generation systems. They can help support a stronger economy, cleaner environment, better human health, and other significant benefits. Wind and solar power are the future.

Works Cited
"The Benefits Of Solar Power And Wind Power." Renewable Green Energy Solutions. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <http://greenenergy-solution.com/the-benefits-of-solar-power-and-wind-power/>. Donahue, Alan. "How Does a Solar Panel Work?" eHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4586044_solar-panel-work.html>. Myers, J. E. "The Benefits of Solar Energy & Wind Energy Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/157735-the-benefits-of-solar-energy-wind-energy/#ixzz2RGczY8G0." Livestrong. N.p., 30 June 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/157735-the-benefits-of-solar-energy-wind-energy/>. Shepard, Don. "What Are the Benefits of Wind & Solar Energy?" eHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/list_6868753_benefits-wind-solar-energy_.html>. Weed, Geoffrey. "How Do Wind Turbines Work?" eHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4570097_wind-turbines-work.html>.

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