Alternative Energy Resources – The Benefits of Using Wind Power

The energy available in the wind has been known for thousands of years. It’s considered a renewable resource that is readily available to most of us. Wind-powered energy is used in agriculture, commercial, residential, and recreational energy applications all over the world. Curriculums for primary and secondary education as well as community clubs like 4-H are readily available and broadly used throughout the US. Wind industry statistics reported that 35% of the new electrical energy generated since 2007 has come from a wind-powered energy resource.

So why then would I write about something that everyone is so familiar with? The answer is that a lot has changed in the last 10 years. We have all become aware of our need to be less dependent on fossil fuels and more dependent on new and evolving sources of renewable energy. Wind technology and innovation continue to expand at a faster rate than anticipated as an industry previously dominated by foreign manufacturing is experiencing strong competition from domestic manufacturers. This has led to increased competition and the rapid development of small-scale wind-powered energy. The applications range from supplementing an existing utility power supply to becoming self-dependent. No matter what the long-term goal is, there are applications potentially available in the right conditions. We need to take steps toward readily available and renewable sources of energy, maybe wind-powered energy is right for you.

Many of us have seen the wind farm that has an army of wind turbine towers reaching 140 feet in the air, with gigantic blades, swirling as they generate electricity for the utility company or industrial plant. On a smaller scale, we think of the farmers windmill being used to power a well pump. But how many of us have ever seen a small-scale wind turbine supplementing or powering a home or small business? Let’s begin researching this question by posing some other questions that might suggest some answers.

  • What is wind energy? According to the EPA, winds are caused by the interaction of the uneven heating up of the atmosphere with the uneven surface of the earth and the Earth’s rotation. It is the energy available in a moving mass of air. As the wind increases the power available increases too. Simply stated, the wind pushes the blades that are attached to the turbines that generate electricity for use in the community or on a small-scale wind-powered system, your home.
  • Why use wind-powered energy? There are a variety of reasons but they include some of the following; it’s good for the environment, long-term cost savings, Independence, reliability, and the resources are renewable and underutilized. In 2001, industry spokespeople felt that wind energy could supply up to 3% that all of the electrical energy requirements of the United States by 2020, today that number looks more like 20-30% by 2030 and increasing.
  • How do I make use of wind power? At the broadest level, there are at least two ways. They are commonly referred to as off-grid and grid-tied. There are a number of variables that can create variations within each of the two classifications but for our purposes let’s keep the breakdown simple. An off-grid system is self-dependent. It is responsible for all of the electrical power of the system. It can be used for small or large applications and most commonly is supported with solar panels as well as battery storage. As the name implies grid-tied is connected to the utility company. It’s commonly used to generate electricity that is sold back to the utility and credited to the account of the owner.
  • How much wind do you need to be efficient? A rule of thumb is an average wind speed of 10-12 miles per hour (DOE Class 2). Now remember surface air is disturbed by trees and structures. The air we’re looking to measure is 30′ above our heads and higher possibly. The American Wind Energy Association website can help you find out what the average wind speeds are in your area.
  • Is a small wind-powered energy system right for me? If you’ve read this far it’s safe to say you probably see the advantages of wind-powered energy. But that doesn’t make one application right for everyone, at least for personal use.

There are three questions that must be asked when you begin looking at wind-powered energy. A negative answer to any of these will have an impact on your selection and should influence your decision, should you want to harness wind energy in some way. For example, local regulations may not allow the placement of a tower above specified footage on personal property. That may rule out a whole home system or require a variance, however, a rooftop system might be acceptable as supplemental energy. The scenario could be played out for property size, but obviously, access to the wind is essential in any application. Let’s look at the three critical questions below.

  • Is the average wind speed in my area At 10-12 mph? Without an average wind speed in this range, you will never have a significant amount of energy generated. Using this specification will help you avoid false expectations. If the manufacturer claims to be able to operate a wind-powered energy system efficiently below those speeds check out all claims carefully. Technology does change and new products are being produced every day. This is, however, a useful starting point when considering meeting an average household’s energy needs.
  • What are the zoning regulations in my area? Communities are beginning to establish ordinances to regulate the construction of windmills on small and large scales. As they grow in popularity so do they start moving in from the farm fields into suburban environments that are denser populated.
  • What is the size of my property? For a home system that is grid-tied coupled with a very productive single-family home system, you should have approximately a half acre of property or larger. Having a lot of trees on your property may pose a problem as well. House size, tree lines, and other man-made structures change the pattern of the wind and generally create turbulence that will compromise the efficiency of the wind-powered energy system.

When you have the answers to these questions you will have better knowledge of what type of wind-powered energy system fits your niche and meets your requirements. You’ll find that you have two choices when it comes to installing the systems. Businesses that sell and install these professionally and guarantee their work Is a good place to begin. They have a background in the field and generally a great deal of experience in your area. If you fit the profile for a home-size system you might want to consider going to the American Wind Energy Association website to start collecting data on manufacturers and installers. On the other hand if your application is for supplemental energy or a small-scale energy project and you’d like to do things yourself, there are guides and kits available at a fraction of the cost of contractor-installed systems.

Lastly, make sure the appliances and energy-consuming devices in your home are as efficient as possible. If you’re thinking about developing a source of energy that will be reliable, sustainable, and sufficient for your needs remember efficiency is not only measured by return on investment but also consumption of energy.

If you’d like the advantages of wind-powered energy and wish to learn more I strongly recommend this site as a guide that will help you learn more about the use of wind-powered energy on a small scale. Visit this link []. Thank you for considering the environment and attempting to live green.

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