Wind Energy - Clean Renewable Energy
Most of us have enjoyed the panoramic view of windmills set against the beauty of vast open land, but may forget the valuable part they can play in renewable energy. These groups of windmills, known as “wind farms,” often cover several hundred square miles, and are compatible with other land uses such as agriculture.
Wind farms can be located both on and off-shore, where one can take advantage of the strong winds blowing across the ocean or vast lakes. According to the Department of Energy, offshore wind farms could provide enough energy to power the entire country. Ideal locations offer an almost constant flow of wind throughout the year, with little chance of sudden strong air-bursts. Other important factors to consider include access to local demand and transmission capacity.
Obviously they collect the energy generated through the windmills by the wind, but what is needed for a setup and how is it collected? The very simplistic approach is that each windmill requires a power collection system and communications network interconnected to a substation in order to transmit the electricity it generates to the electric grid. Access roads are also sometimes built between the wind towers to facilitate installation, repair and maintenance.
This set-up is clearly very expensive and requires a great deal of capital, but once in place, the wind energy system is one of the least expensive energy systems to maintain, with little negative environmental impact. Although the negative sides include bird mortality and noise, according to Garrett Gross, a scientist from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, states, "The impact made on the environment is very little when compared to what is gained."
Since wind energies big impacts are visual and bat/bird strikes, one interesting development is radar-informed software that shuts the blades down when flocks of birds are headed for them. This can play havoc with grid reliability, but it is one solution currently on the table.
A viable form of alternative energy, wind farming is expected to generated 20 percent of the United States electricity by 2030. Beautiful against the horizon, wind energy is a clean alternative to our energy problems.