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Wind
The Dutch Windwheel
The Trinity Turbine System
Compressing The Wind's Energy
Free Electricity In Texas

Wind Energy

Societies have taken advantage of wind power for thousands of years. The first known use was in 5000 BC when people used sails to navigate the Nile River . Persians had already been using windmills for 400 years by 900 AD in order to pump water and grind grain. Windmills may have even been developed in China before 1 AD, but the earliest written documentation comes from 1219. Cretans were using "literally hundreds of sail-rotor windmills [to] pump water for crops and livestock."

The Windmill

The Dutch were responsible for many refinements of the windmill, primarily for pumping excess water off land that was flooded. As early as 1390, they had connected the mill to "a multi-story tower, with separate floors devoted to grinding grain, removing chaff, storing grain, and (on the bottom) living quarters for the windsmith and his family." Its popularity spread to the point that there were 10,000 windmills in England. But perfecting the windmill's efficiency to the point that it "had all the major features recognized by modern designers as being crucial to the performance of modern wind turbine blades" took almost 500 years. By then, applications ranged from saw-milling timber to processing spices, tobacco, cocoa, paints, and dyes.

The windmill was further refined in the late 19th century in the US; some designs from that period are still in use today. Heavy, inefficient wooden blades were replaced by lighter, faster steel blades around 1870. Over the next century, more than six million small windmills were erected in the US in order to aid in watering livestock and supplying homes with water during the development of the West. The first large windmill to produce electricity was the "American multi-blade design," built in 1888. Its 12-kilowatt capabilities were later superceded by modern 70-100 kilowatt wind turbines.

Wind Energy Sources

Today, people are realizing that wind power "is one of the most promising new energy sources" that can serve as an alternative to fossil fuel-generated electricity.

With today's technology, wind energy could provide 20% of America's electricity (or about the amount nuclear power provides) with turbines installed on less than 1% of its land area. And within that area, less than 5% of the land would be occupied by wind equipment-the remaining 95% could continue to be used for farming or ranching. By the year 2020, 10 million average American homes may be supplied by wind power, preventing 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. Lessening our dependence on fossil fuels is critical to the health of all living things, and wind energy can do just that.

The 3 billion kWh of electricity produced by America's wind machines annually displace the energy equivalent of 6.4 million barrels of oil and avoid 1.67 million tons of carbon emissions, as well as sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions that cause smog and acid rain. In other words, "more wind power means less smog, acid rain, and greenhouse gas emissions."

Windmills may have been around for almost 1500 years, but it was not imagined that wind power would become affordable enough to compete with fossil fuels. Indeed it has. In fact, many utility services around the world offer wind-generated electricity at a premium of 2 to 3 cents per kWh. If a household used wind power for 25% of its needs, it would spend only $4 or $5 dollars per month for it and the price is still dropping.

Compare this to 4.8 to 5.5 cents per kWh for coal or 11.1 to 14.5 cents per kWh for nuclear power. Wind energy is therefore "cheaper than any other new electric generation except natural gas.[which] emits one pound of greenhouse gases for every kilowatt-hour of electricity it generates." The success of this energy is in part due to the fact that its costs have gone "down by more than 80% since the early 1980s." Even lower prices are expected, as "industry analysts see the cost dropping by an additional 20 percent to 40 percent by 2005."

Electricity from wind

Germany, the US, Spain, Denmark, India and Australia are among the world's leading nations in the acquisition of wind energy. Wind generated energy is growing in leaps and bounds.

Wind power is now the world's fastest growing energy source and has also become one of the most rapidly expanding industries, with sales of roughly $3 billion in 2008. Major offshore developments are likely in northern European waters in the early part of the next century.

This will be the next major step for this technology and will result in a dramatic increase in decentralized electricity generation. Offshore wind has the potential to deliver substantial quantities of energy at a price that is cheaper than most of the other renewable energies, as wind speeds are generally higher offshore than on land

As of 1999, global wind energy capacity topped 10,000 megawatts, which is approximately 16 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. That's enough to serve over 5 cities the size of Miami , according to the American Wind Energy Association. Five Miamis may not seem significant, but if we make the predicted strides in the near future, wind power could be one of our main sources of electricity. "With today's technology, wind energy could provide 20% of America 's electricity (or about the amount nuclear power provides) with turbines installed on less than 1% of its land area. And within that area, less than 5% of the land would be occupied by wind equipment the remaining 95% could continue to be used for farming or ranching." By the year 2010, 10 million average American homes may be supplied by wind power, preventing 100 million metric tons of CO 2 emissions every year.

Lessening our dependence on fossil fuels is critical to the health of all living things, and wind energy can do just that. "The 3 billion kWh of electricity produced by America's wind machines annually displace the energy equivalent of 6.4 million barrels of oil and avoid 1.67 million tons of carbon emissions, as well as sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions that cause smog and acid rain." In other words, "more wind power means less smog, acid rain, and greenhouse gas emissions."

Windmills may have been around for almost 1500 years, but it was not imagined that wind power would become affordable enough to compete with fossil fuels. Indeed it has. In fact, many utility services around the world offer wind-generated electricity at a premium of 2 to 3 cents per kWh. If a household used wind power for 25% of its needs, it would spend only $4 or $5 dollars per month for it and the price is still dropping. Compare this to 4.8 to 5.5 cents per kWh for coal or 11.1 to 14.5 cents per kWh for nuclear power. Wind energy is therefore "cheaper than any other new electric generation except natural gas[which] emits one pound of greenhouse gases for every kilowatt-hour of electricity it generates." The success of this energy is in part due to the fact that its costs have gone "down by more than 80% since the early 1980s." Even lower prices are expected, as "industry analysts see the cost dropping by an additional 20 percent to 40 percent by 2005."

Germany, the US, Spain, Denmark, and India are among the world's leading nations in the acquisition of wind energy. According to Chris Flavin, a speaker at the World Oil Forum held in Denver , Colorado , on October 30, 1998, " Navarro , Spain , is utilizing wind power to generate 23% of its electricity needs." Denmark now generates 8 percent of its electricity from wind power. Flavin, a vice president and senior energy policy analyst at the Worldwatch Institute, reported that wind generated energy is growing in leaps and bounds. In fact, according to Worldwatch Institute Online , "The world added 2,100 megawatts of new wind energy generating capacity in 1998, a new all-time record, and 35% more than was added in 1997. Wind power is now the world's fastest growing energy source and has also become one of the most rapidly expanding industries, with sales of roughly $2 billion in 1998." Major offshore developments are likely in northern European waters in the early part of the next century. This will be the next major step for this technology and will result in a dramatic increase in decentralized electricity generation. Offshore wind has the potential to deliver substantial quantities of energy at a price that is cheaper than most of the other renewable energies, as wind speeds are generally higher offshore than on land.

According to an April 1999 press release, "Worldwide, wind energy capacity has expanded at an annual rate of 25.7% during the 1990s, with the total doubling every three years and the cost of production declining steadily as each doubling occurs and economies of greater volume are realized." Christophe Bourillon, executive director of the European Wind Energy Association, remarked that Europe has emerged "as a world leader in wind energy development" in the 1990s, which he expects this to continue.

As far as the wind industry in the US is concerned, June of 1999 signaled the end of the best year yet. The executive director of the American Wind Energy Association attributes this "wind rush" to "progressive state policies and growing consumer demand for 'green' (low-environmental-impact) power." Many states now require that part of their energy production come from renewable sources. And utilities are now offering people "the choice of buying green power at a premium over power from conventional, environmentally-damaging sources such as fossil fuels. In most cases, wind, as one of the lowest-cost renewable energy sources, is the primary beneficiary." Utilities as well as policymakers are continuously surprised by the public's positive response to the availability of this green power.

Bird fatalities on wind farms are a concern. A study in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in California found 182 dead birds, 119 of which were raptors. In response to this, the wind industry is committed to modifying the equipment in order to make the area safer for birds. Ideas include reducing the number of perches on turbines, spacing turbines far apart and in the direction of migration, painting patterns on blades that contrast with landscape colors, and even broadcasting a radio frequency to keep birds away altogether. Amidst its efforts to take responsibility in this issue, the industry quietly points out how many millions of species are killed annually during the acquisition and distribution of most conventional sources of energy.

Overall, the advantages of wind power heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Although it can only supplement other sources of energy for now, it provides skilled jobs for people in rural communities, replaces environmentally harmful energy sources, and is inexhaustible." It will never be subject to embargoes or 'price shocks' caused by international conflicts," and "unlike oil fields, wind energy is renewable, year after year, forever."