Electricity is critical in daily life as it ensures that public health is maintained, safety as well as economy is kept at par. Nevertheless, this issue has been developing a heated debate over the world especially which type of the energy source has the potential to meet the ever-rising population and meet the provision of reducing environmental impact.
Wind power has been one of the sources that have been surrounded by this debate. Most of the countries in the world believe that it might be the solution of the whole episode. Otherwise, this has been met with a very big debate all over the world especially in countries that has been producing power from it. These countries like United State of America and European countries. However, it currently counts for a very little percentage in such countries. An example of such states that has been very vibrant in the generation of wind power as Vermont, Minnesota and some parts of Europe countries contribute very low percentage. Otherwise, people have been very optimistic of this source and think that it will play a great role in solving power problem in near future.
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The main question that has been in circulation over the wind power is how viable the source is in providing the power. The other one is how much this wind power is capable to provide to the main grid. Up to this far, no clear answer has been offered. However, most of the people claim that by 2025, wind will have cemented itself in the power generation sector where it is believed in a place like Vermont, which is one of the states to start wind power generation wind power, will have account for 15% (Lindenberg, p.32). Otherwise, people have been complaining that this amount is much lower.
Nevertheless, like all the other source of power, there are disadvantages and advantages to wind power. Some of those who refute wind generation fear that the wind turbine will have the effect on the aesthetic value of the land. In the contrary, those who support the idea of wind power generation says that since the wind power is renewable and clean to the environment as it do not emit carbon dioxide, it will be of great help to the people all over the world.
In Vermont according to Gipe p.61, the wind generation has been put in hold indefinitely due to the intense regulation that has been to ensure that wind power is produced. There has been an outcry all over from Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) activist has been due to these fierce hurdles. In most of the parts in world especially in US and Europe, they argue that to meet the growing electricity demand in the world, other sources that include wind power production should be taken seriously. In recent statement that was made by the England ISO, that is a non-profit making organization of the region transmission grid noted with a great concern that as demand of power grows tremendously across the country, there has very little attempt to increase power generation. Therefore, they put a notice that without investing in power generation, New England will be consuming more power than it can produce or buy from their neighbors.
Buying of electricity from other places is expensive than producing in the country and as much as depletion of non-renewable sources knock, other power sources must be put in place. Wind power according to researchers offers certain advantages. Wind generation has an advantage to the economy through job generation as wind facilities must be operated, those who owns land in favored sites, get money through leasehold revenues. Another important advantage of producing power in the country is that it is reliable and offers independence in the energy sector.
Overview of wind power
Some of the attributes that the wind power has in the long are significant. Apart from being renewable, wind power usage has been increasing significantly. From 2000 to 2005, wind energy industry in U.S has increased by 29% according to the American Wind Energy Association (Congress p.46). In 2005, there were over nine thousand megawatts wind power installed capacity. This capacity is equivalent to four Hoover Dam productions if only the wind power generation was operating in full efficiency. According Winkler pg 75, the amount of power that average homes would use, one megawatt is capable of feeding approximately 1000 homes. Nevertheless, wind is only capable of producing 30-35% of power of what it is capable of in full capacity operation. Due to the low production rate of wind power, it has made it not to be the silver bullet in power generation.
Nevertheless, amid increased energy prices currently and a push for a more friendly environmental non-carbon fuel, wind power generation is projected to increase sharply in future. The energy industry service providers' General Electric has uttered this. They say that the number of the wind energy facilities that have been installed in the world get to about 40,000 megawatts with more expected in future. Otherwise, this is does not mean that wind power generation is in a position of eliminating other power sources (Congress p.48). It is rather hard due to the number of challenges that it is faced by in its daily operation.
The cost of wind power has been varying significantly over the countries that have invested in it. This is due to the varying cost of production. Some of the factors that dictate its cost in the market include the following; the speed of wind in the site that the facilities are installed. This will affect the production as the higher the speed, the higher the production and the lower the price and the vice versa.
The size of the wind farm will also be another determining factor. This because, the production of wind power requires a large farm that will enable wind to move without interruption. This makes the production more expensive due to the amount of money used to buy such big land. Configuration of the turbines is another factor that will contribute to the overall cost of the wind-generated power (Gipe, p.26). The configuration of the turbine should enable maximum wind contact, as the direction of the wind is unpredictable but should offer a great probability during such wind direction change. This offers an extra cost as in other times; these turbines will not be producing power.
The proximity to the transmission grid is another factor that increases the cost of the wind-generated power. The cost of transmitting the power to the transmission grid is much expensive when the transmission grid is far from where the wind power is being generated. This impact a problem in the installation of the facilities as the configuration of the ground where wind power is generated is not always favored by the proximity to the transmission grid. This makes the power generated through this method to be very expensive.
Though the generation of the wind power is environmentally friendly, it is environmentally expensive. The reason being, no other activity that can block the wind blowing can happen near the generation. In addition, the planes cannot pass over generation power of wind especially in the flying energy generators. This makes the process expensive, as the resources around the generation stay idle. However, federal tax incentives have boosted the cost of wind power where government of US has placed a 1.8cents per kilowatts hour incentive to support utility scale wind turbines that has been projected for ten years.
The amount of wing that is experienced on the ground does not translate to the amount of power that can harness. This is because, the power of the wind at the top of the building may be five time the power experienced on the ground. Wind power is also affected by very many factors that include the form of the ground. This makes some places to have relative higher wind energy while other places are relatively calm.
Factors to consider when determining possible wind power generation site
One of the most important factors that wind power generation site considers is the strength of the wind in the area. Most of the places, which show potential of producing wind energy, are elevated ground. In places like Vermont, an elevated place of about 2500 feet above sea level is the most favored place (Congress p.201).
Existing road is another factor that determines the site of power generation. If the site of wind power generation is far from existing road, there must be a road construction to get access to the site.
An existing transmission line has to be in place to ensure that the generated power is transported with ease to the intended recipient. In case of failure to be close to one, extra expenses should be incurred to ensure that it is put in place. This makes more land to be cleared to ensure that this facility is put in place this continually affect the environment and increase the cost of the project.
Land uses are another factor that should be looked at. In case the potential site is gotten in a place where the land is protected for endangered species, the site should be ruled out or else such species will be in danger of extinction. Thus, this became extra consequences of the potentiality of the wind power site.
Reasons that wind power can be preferred
There are a number of reasons that a certain country can prefer the wind energy as an option. Most of the reasons as mentioned earlier that brings about economic and environmental benefits. Wind power according to Mute p.25, has a potential to preserve the environment from the toxic materials as it cannot pollute air, streams and land as it do not give off toxic waste. When the wind farms generate electricity, it makes it possible to spare construction of large power plants especially those that are used in burning coal. This makes it possible to reduce the amount of harmful emission that is emitted in the air.
The economic benefit that is encompassed in the wind farm is also significant. According to the Department of Public Service in Vermont 2005 Electric Plan, they said that the landowners who have leased their lands to the wind generation sites acquire enough money. It also helps in paying property and state taxes thus creating job opportunities. The new jobs that are created ranges from the operation f the wind power generation facilities to auxiliary services that are rendered to ensure complete service delivery in the power operation plant.
Wind power not a silver bullet
However, to many people, wind power seems like a great power deficit solution, economic solution, environmental as well as national security issue that is caused by the usage of the fossils fuels, it is not yet a silver bullet.
What makes it to be far from being a silver bullet is the cost of the wind power. The wind energy is expensive to install and an in maintenance than other method of power production. Though the project may favor long-term economics, it spends highly in term of initial cost (Great Britain Parliament p.33). To ensure that a wind power plant is operational, the initial cost will be very high as compared to other method of power generation.
In most cases, the potential areas where these plants can be installed are in rural areas. Threes places are far from the urban areas where the power demand is high. Therefore, utilities have to build transmission line to the urban areas. This makes the production cost to hike very much making the power generated to be sold to the recipient at high price.
Wind power is far from completely eliminating the current power production. This has been proven through a number of tandems that are required in the production of power in most cases in conjunction with wind power generating plant, as it has no capability of producing power all the time. Wind power in most cases requires base load sources like coal, nuclear, coal gas to ensure consistency of power. Therefore, wind in most cases is used to complement these sources making it unreliable.
Wind power is still miles away from becoming a silver bullet due to it source variability. The wind blow is mostly intermittent and at times, it does not blow completely. In some places, wind blows more strongly than in other places making the sites allocation to be selective. In many places, wind is seasonal. This makes it to be stronger in some seasons than in others and at times no wind at all. This causes unpredictability of the power generation. However, despite of all these problems, power generation is supposed to remain consistent all over the year to ensure power stability on the grid. This makes it tricky to add wind power from the farm t the main grid due to its inconsistency.
Nevertheless, scientist has been in the ground trying to come up with a solution to the above problem. This is through providing a more efficient system for energy storage that has been produced by these turbines. These systems are therefore meant to offset the variability of the wind power.
Another problem that has faced those investors who are ready to take advantage of this renewable energy generation is the amount of federal tax incentive that is offered by government being not enough. Most of the stakeholders in this industry say that wind industry incentives are unfair and require to be reviewed to ensure that they are capable of producing wind power.
Despite of the ranging debate about the potential ability of the wind power extent of contributing to energy portfolio in the world, no concrete answer has ever been put in place. Nevertheless, the amount if advantages that have been gotten by the current project are far from the reality of a viable project. This is due to the number of hurdles that the wind power generating plant should pass. The power of nature makes it much unpredictable which require expensive technology to ensure that a large power reservoir is build to ensure that it suffice the power shortage during the calm time.
Nonetheless, wind power can be very helpful in supplementing the existing power generation. This will equivalently reduce the effect that these other power production has to the nature. Therefore, with proper planning and good resources and facilities, it can be of help in the future but still hard to eliminate other power sources.