Facts About Wind Power

turbine

Wind Power is Clean

Electricity generated by wind turbines won't dirty the air we breathe or emit pollutants like other energy sources - that means less smog, less acid rain and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Power plants are the largest stationary source of air pollution in the United States, emitting millions of tons of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and carbon dioxide each year. These pollutants are believed to be the cause of global warming. Running a single 1-MW wind turbine can displace 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide in one year (equivalent to planting one square mile of forest).

Wind Energy is Reliable and Efficient

There is a lot of confusion about the reliability of wind power.  Reliability and intermittency are NOT the same thing.  No power facilities are able to operate all of the time without stopping.  Many so-called reliable sources such as fossil fuel-fired and nuclear plants suffer from unexpected "outages" and are often shut down on a moment’s notice.  Unreliability of this kind is harder on electric system operations than the intermittency of wind power. They are also shut down for long periods for routine maintenance.  Unlike other power plants, wind energy systems require minimal maintenance and have low operating expenses. Modern wind turbines are very reliable and are available to generate electricity approximately over 95% of the time.  Wind turbines generate electricity from a fuel that is free and will never run out, but which isn’t available all the time.

So, what happens when the wind stops blowing?  Not a lot really, as electricity continues to be provided by other forms of generation.  Our electricity system is mostly made up of large power stations, and the system has to be able to cope when one of these large plants goes down.  Wind is a "must-run" resource so when the wind is blowing the clean power that is generated is guaranteed to flow into the system replacing the need for other (polluting) generation to run at the same time.  Power supply flows onto the grid in balance with demand and the system is used to dealing with fluctuations in demand, such as when millions of people come home from work and turn on the lights.

Wind is Growing Fast

Worldwide, more than 27,000-MW of new wind capacity was commissioned in 2008 with global wind capacity reaching close to 121, 1000-MW.  The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008, installing 8,358-MW of new generating capacity (enough to serve over 2 million homes). Wind energy generating capacity in the U.S. now stands at 25,170-MW, producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of close to 7 million households.

Wind Energy is Renewable

Wind is available and plentiful, and it won't deplete our world's natural resources.

Wind Energy is Local

Wind projects keep more energy dollars in the state's and communities where projects are located and provide a steady income through lease payments to the landowners. Wind projects also pay significant property taxes and state taxes each year and create local jobs. Unlike oil, the wind is not affected by international conflicts or embargoes, making it immune to supply problems or price shocks associated with fossil fuels.

 

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