The wind provides a valuable and renewable source of energy with which to power your home. You've probably seen wind turbines dotting the landscape; they are tall, sleek and white-nothing like the traditional Dutch version. It may seem preposterous to have either version in your yard, but wind energy offers many advantages. Let's take a look at those as well as the downside (because there always is one):
Wind Energy Basics
Wind turbines have three basic parts: the blades, the pole and the generator. Three large, propeller-like blades are mounted on top of of a tall pole, and when the wind blows, it turns the blades. The energy produced powers the generator, which creates electricity that you can use in your home. If the turbine produces more energy than you need, it can be fed back into the power grid.
Europe has been producing energy from wind for years, especially Germany, Spain, Denmark and France. Many other countries such as China and India also produce wind energy. The US has a lot of catching up to do, but as these renewable energy systems become more popular, they also become more affordable.
Wind Energy Pros
- Wind energy is clean, and harnessing it does not produce any harmful by-products.
- Wind is free and 100% renewable.
- Turbines pay for themselves within a few years.
- The power company pays you back if you produce extra electricity.
- Tax incentives may be available from local or the federal government for those who install wind turbines.
Wind Energy Cons
- Upfront costs are high.
- You must have enough land to accommodate a turbine.
- Not all geographical locations are suitable for wind turbines; check your local wind speed averages.
- Building codes may restrict turbine installation.
- Wind turbines make noise and some people (possibly your neighbors) find them to be ugly.
- Turbines typically operate at only 30 percent capacity (but to put that in perspective - solar panels operate at only 15 percent efficiency).
- Blades have been known to kill birds.
- Turbines can be damaged in lightning storms.
Looking back at these two lists, there appear to be more 'cons' than 'pros.' However, capturing wind energy has a much lower impact on the environment than relying on power produced from coal or oil. If you live in an area that receives enough wind and you are able to invest and handle costs upfront, a wind turbine will pay you back for years to come.