One of the worlds fastest growing types of renewable energy sources is wind power. While most of the Earth is still reliant on different types of fossil fuels (such as oil, natural gas and coal) for their energy supply, many countries are trying to come up with alternative methods of obtaining energy. Much of Europe has begun to build and use wind farms, which are groupings of wind turbines that harness the energy of the wind in order to create energy and electricity. Also involved in using wind power, USA has started to build their own wind farms.
Wind turbines are the individual components of wind farms, and they are machinery composed of several main parts. The first part is the rotor, also known as the blades or the propeller, and this is the part of the turbine that actually collects the wind energy and converts it into drive energy, which then turns a shaft. This shaft actually creates the energy that is then stored or converted into electricity. Wind farms are groupings of many of these turbines, usually 10 or more.
The wind energy USA had capacity for in the year 2004 was 6,740 MW, with a prediction that the wind energy capabilities of the United States will be increased by 5,000 MW in the next five years. The US Department of Energy has a goal of obtaining 6 percent of the country’s electricity needs from wind energy by the year 2020, which is a fair goal judging by the current rate of growth seen in the wind energy industry. California is the state in the US that produces the most wind energy, with 2,096 MW of wind generating capacity per year.
As one MW is enough energy to supply energy to 240 to 300 average US homes, the amount of wind energy USA currently produces is enough to energy 500,000 to 620,000 homes per year. The United States is currently ranked as the third highest wind energy producing country in the world, behind Germany and Spain. The business of wind energy in the US is also monetarily significant – it costs about $1,000 per kilowatt (KW) of installed wind energy capacity. When multiplied by the US’s capacity of 6,740 KW, this makes wind energy a $7 billion industry.
Wind power is a growing energy source in the United States for many reasons. Wind energy is cleaner, cheaper and more renewable than many of the current sources of energy used in this country. Additionally, the capacity for expansion of wind farms and ways to harness wind power means that as the US’s energy needs grow, there will continue to be enough energy to provide for all of our energy needs.
Rick Chapo is with SolarCompanies.com – providing information on wind power as an alternative energy platform.