Wind Energy- A Cleaner Alternative
In this day and age, the phrase “Go Green” is everywhere you turn. From school to work to life at home, environmentally safe practices are becoming not only more popular but necessary. From water conservation to recycling to converting to more energy efficient light sources and appliances, we are reminded to find ways to be more earth friendly. It is important that we not only make these changes to our everyday lives, but it is critical that the government makes changes on a larger scale, namely the way in which the power we use is generated in the first place. An alternative to the traditional method of deriving energy from coal and oil is wind powered energy.
The use of wind for power dates back to ancient times; however, research into wind power as an alternate option to coal and oil started around 1970, according to the Alternative Energy Institute. The research has found that wind is considered to be “one of the most promising new energy sources” (http://www.altenergy.org). The benefits of wind powered energy are many. It is a clean form of energy which is renewable and it does not result in dangerous emissions of gases into the environment. The use of oil and coal for power result in emissions of dangerous pollutants such as CO2, which cause global warming and a negative impact on plants, animals, and human beings. Wind power does not pose these same dangers. Did you know that the United States is responsible for the emission of 23% of the world’s CO2 emissions, even though our country holds only 5% of the world’s total population? This statistic is alarming and signals a desperate need for changes in the way we power our homes, businesses, schools, and lives in general. Although some argue that CO2 is still emitted during the construction of wind farms, research has shown that that when you look at the larger picture as compared to oil and coal generated energy, wind produces 98-99% less CO2 emissions when looking at the total operation (http://www.awea.org).
Another benefit of wind powered energy is that it would lessen our dependence on foreign oil. By switching to this alternate energy source, we could not only improve our environmental situation, but we could also spend less of our country’s money importing oil from other countries and be more independent in relying on our own energy source right here at home. This would also generate jobs for American people at plants which manufacture the windmills, businesses that construct and maintain the wind mill farms, and so on. In 2008 alone it was announced by the American Wind Energy Association that increased use of wind power in the United States has resulted in a $17 billion boost to the American economy as well as an additional 85,000 jobs (http://www.nrel.gov). The relative low cost of wind energy is another advantage, ranging from approximately “4 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour” (http://www1.eere.energy.gov).
As with any other subject, there are disadvantages to wind powered energy which we cannot ignore. One concern is the potential erosion that may result in the installation of the wind turbines. Obviously, the various regions of the United States offer a variety of different terrains which would have to be considered in constructing these wind farms. It will take creativity and innovation to come up with ways to build the wind farms where the terrain will pose challenges. Other disadvantages that have to be considered are possible noise from the turbines, the visual