Wind Power: Nature’s Gift
Wind power is a clean and renewable energy that, while at times unreliable, has very low upkeep cost and is growing at a rapid rate. While there is currently enough wind power to provide many times our current energy need, it is unfeasible in reality. Wind power utilizes the kinetic energy of air and uses it to power a generator to produce electricity. Even though dependence on wind power is impossible, it still can provide a strong, clean, quantity of power to supplement current energy production.
Wind energy is essentially the conversion of the kinetic energy from air molecules in motion to mechanical energy which is generally then converted into electrical energy. People have used wind power since 700 AD in the form of windmills that grind grain or draw water. Currently, wind energy is generally used to produce electricity and provides approximately one percent of the world’s electrical needs, but the theoretical power possible from wind energy would top 70 Terawatts of power; over five times the world’s total energy consumption. However, this upper limit is most likely unfeasible as it involves utilizing all land suited for wind turbine placement; approximately 13% of the world.
Only areas class 3 or higher are suited to wind turbine construction
Another problem with total reliance on wind energy would be the unreliable nature of the wind; a still day could render anyone depending on the turbines powerless. However, a good option is to keep undesirable but more reliable power generation at the ready for when the wind tapers down. A nation such as Denmark who is already producing about 20% of their electric use through wind power could keep coal or gas plants at standby; because the majority of the cost in running these plants is in the cost of the fuel, a country relying on wind the majority of the time would be feasible as long as it had a high number of high wind speed areas available and could supplement its slow production times with other sources.
Wind power and solar power also tend to compliment each other; a study by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy has shown that generally, while wind speeds are high solar power generation tends to be low and vice versa, so the two could be used in conjunct to make up for each other’s weaknesses.
The main cost of wind energy is in the initial investment in the construction of a wind turbine; the upkeep cost is generally marginal and lower than one cent per kWhr. In general, wind power works by having air molecules move across the turbine blades transferring kinetic energy from the molecules to the turbine, causing it to turn. As it turns, the mechanical energy can be used to perform tasks such as grinding grain. More commonly, the turbine turns and utilizes a power generator to convert the mechanical energy to electrical energy.
While wind power is currently more expensive per unit of energy (the initial cost of construction is spread across a turbine’s...