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Alternative Energy Sources: Wind Energy

Updated on January 19, 2012
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Alternative Resources

To continue from the hub regarding solar power, wind power will now be discussed. Among the various types of alternative energy resources, wind power is one that really comes to mind. The others that are mostly known are bio-fuel, tidal, geothermic, and ethanol.

But what is wind energy? How does it work? Is it a viable resource? What are the pros and cons of wind energy? With the numerous different types of energy sources out there, is wind energy the most effective?

Well . . .

Let's find out. This hub with explain how wind energy works, some different designs of turbines, and the pros and cons of this energy source.

How Does Wind Energy Work?

If you ever owned a pinwheel, then you have a very good start at understanding how wind energy works. The wind blows and it spins the propellers on a turbine to generate energy. The turbines send the kinetic energy to a generator, which turns it into electrical energy. Then the energy is sent out to be used.

If the wind is too strong, the turbines will turn off for safety. But these turbines can be adjusted in direction to get the optimal amount of wind. And these turbines are usually placed on wind farms, places that have a good amount of wind the majority of the time with multiple other turbines near by. Some wind farms are being placed in the ocean as well as off the shore of lakes.

A personal note/question: My college is located on the shores of a big lake. There was a lot of talk in the town as to the installation of a wind turbine or two. Besides some of the cons that will be discussed later on, there was a weird amount of support and opposition for the turbine. I asked my college professor (who was teaching a course all about alternative energy resources) about the effects of the pack-ice on the turbine's concrete base that would be made. The lake's pack-ice would travel right to the shore and out as far as the eye could see, and it shifted a lot. I asked, "Would the pack-ice damage the efficiency of the turbine, as well as the maintenance (since it would be extremely dangerous to go out to do repairs during the winter)? If anyone knows the answer to this question, please tell me. Research doesn't even help me.

Turbines can also be bought for private homes and installed, but it is still a high amount of money.

Verticle Wind Turbine

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Different Designs for Turbines

There are a lot of different types of turbines. Some are the basic three propeller design, the five propeller design, and designs that have even more propellers. Some can be placed between two close sky scrapers, some have a circle around the propellers, and some have the propellers twisted around the support, like a maypole. Some turbines are small, while others are huge! There are many types, and a lot of research is being done to find out the most efficient design and the best ways to harness this energy.

Either way, there is a lot of room for improvement and innovation when it comes to wind power.

Pros and Cons of Wind Power

Like any other power source, there are drawbacks. No energy source, discovered thus far, is perfect. Wind Power is no exception.

Pros

  • Wind Energy does not pollute (besides the manufacturing).
  • This energy is renewable.
  • Many areas of the world can opt for wind energy, although some places are better than others.
  • The amount of money it can save you in the long run, because you can produce your own. But this is debatable.
  • Easily works with other forms of electricity. You don't need only one type of energy to rely on. You can use several types, and wind power works well with others.


Cons

  • Wind is unpredictable. You could have a day where the wind is blowing strong and the next day, the wind won't blow at all.
  • As said in the pro section, cost. The amount of money to get a turbine is going down, but it is still a pretty penny. Maybe in a few more years, this will be much more affordable.
  • Wind Turbines make noise. It's a little low hum type of noise, but it can be pretty annoying when you are trying to go to sleep near a wind turbine.
  • Some people don't like the way these look.
  • Birds fly into them. And then the birds die. Birds don't stand a chance against wind turbines.
  • Repairs to wind turbines can be expensive.


Is wind energy a viable source for alternative energy? Maybe, maybe not. But it is a possibility. As technology progresses, it might be wonderful and the best idea. As of now, it's debatable. Even cutting back costs to buy your own wind turbine with a government incentive might not be enough to have you put one up. But do some research. There are a lot of people who live near wind farms that can talk to you about it. It is certainly something we can keep an eye on.

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    • DougBerry profile image

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      Ah, but there are places where the wind is pretty easy to predict. The table-top hills of west Texas are now dotted with the blasted things. Even coming out of the mountains near Salt Lake City, UT you'll encounter some. Anywhere there is steady wind, you're going to end up with windmills.

    • Cammiebar profile image
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      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Right. I live close to three different wind farms located on plateaus and they are almost always running. But in many areas, even on the wind farms I mentioned, sometimes the wind is too strong for the turbines to work or the wind is too weak.

      But I would imagine that flat areas such as Texas would be a very good area for for them.

      You said "blasted things", DougBerry. Do you think that wind energy in this respect is a fruitless cause? I would love to hear your opinion.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      How do you go about storing the energy you get from turbines, do you know much about that and how much does it take to supply enough power to supply power to say an 800 square foot house for a week or a month?

      Also do you have any good links or should I just Google it?

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      somethgblue,

      From what I have found out through basic research and a college course of alternative energy, there is no way to effectively store excess wind energy. There is a problem with AC versus DC power. (A roommate argued this is me all the time, but never told me how she could store the energy and I haven't seen anything about it). Excess energy can be sold back to a power company.

      As for powering that type of house, there are a couple of variables. How much electricity is used monthly, how many people, all those factors. Also with the wind, the faster the turbine spins, the higher the watt of power you get. Also, where you are in the world and the type of turbine you decide to get can determine the amount of power you can get in a second.

      National Geographic and several government sites are out there about wind energy. A quick google will bring you lots of good sites.

      Thank you for your questions! I hope this helps.

      All the best!

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