Wind is caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere combined with the earth’s rotation and irregularities in the earth’s surface, and is modified by terrain, bodies of water and vegetation. Wind flow – a type of energy of motion – can be harnessed by wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind turbines spin when wind flows pass over the blades, powering a generator to create electricity. In certain parts of the US, wind is very abundant, making this type of renewable energy very profitable. Additionally, wind is a clean, non-polluting source of energy. Wind plants emit no air pollutants or greenhouse gasses, so although wind requires a higher initial investment than traditional sources of energy, operating expenses are low and there is less of an overall impact on the environment.
Wind power alone has the potential to generate 20 times more energy than what the human population needs (Energy Informative, 2015), and since wind is generated by the sun (via heat energy), it is completely renewable. Given world population growth and development, shifts need to be made towards more sustainable means of generating energy. Although the initial costs of wind energy are more expensive than traditional methods, costs have decreased by more than 80% since 1980, and are expected to continue decreasing as technologies advance1 . Additionally, operational costs of wind power plants are low enough to offset the large initial costs. Growth of wind energy in the last decade has increased by an average of 30% per year2, and is expected to continue growing. Investing in and supporting wind energy can be extremely helpful and under the right conditions can be very efficient and economical. A developing wind energy industry has been creating new jobs, and is estimated to support 500,000 by 20302. Diversifying methods of generating power are necessary for the future, and wind can be a valuable resource moving down the line.
The easiest way to support wind energy is to contact your local legislators and voice your opinions and urge them to support increasing development of and investment in the wind industry. As an individual, homeowners and businesses can install small-scale wind turbines under the right conditions and if you own large amounts of land in certain areas, you may be eligible to lease part of your property to potential wind plantations.
In order to determine if a small wind turbine plant is the right type of renewable energy for your home or business, you first must estimate the amount of wind available at your site, consult local codes and regulations, and analyze the costs to see if it is worth it. Completing these steps can ensure that wind is the most cost effective and efficient means of generating you own electricity. For more specific information on how to evaluate if you qualify for a small-scale wind energy plant, visit: energy.gov/energysaver
Statewide Incentives for Renewable Energy
Incentives for installing and supporting renewable energy – including wind energy – can be found at the state level. To look up incentives in your state, visit: www.dsireusa.org
Tax Credits (through Energy Star)
Energy Star, an EPA voluntary program dedicated to promoting individual and business energy efficiency, offers a federal tax credit of 30% of costs with no upper limit on small, residential wind turbines. In order to qualify, the system must have a nameplate capacity of no more than 100 kilowatts3. For more information and how to apply, visit: www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits
The Wind Program
Run through the DOE, the Wind Program is committed to developing and deploying technologies for new, clean, domestic wind power. This program cooperates closely with the growing wind industry, and reports on the future of wind power through 2050. It also analyzes the economic benefits associated with a potentially large wind industry. The program is dedicated to finding ways to provide clean, wind generate power to all 50 states.
Energy Informative. “Wind Energy Pros and Cons.” The Homeowners Guide to Solar Panels. Accessed February 06 2016. http://energyinformative.org/wind-energy-pros-and-cons/ Into the Wind. “Top 10 Reasons Why Americans Support Wind Farms.” The American Wind Energy Association Blog. Accessed February 06, 2016. http://www.aweablog.org/top-10-reasons-why-americans-support-wind-farms/ EnergyStar. “Federal Income Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency.” Federal Tax Credits. Accessed February, 06 2016. http://www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits