The following wind energy facts reveal how wind turbines can offer a clean, byproduct-free method to generate electrical power. If you live in a consistently windy area, installing a home wind turbine to generate electricity for your household could reduce your utility bills by up to 80%, or possibly more.
Renewable wind energy is not only clean energy, but it helps to reduce harmful greenhouse gases since every kilowatt of electricity produced through a wind turbine replaces a kilowatt of electricity that's produced through the burning of fossil fuels.
So, let's examine the wind energy facts.
Wind renewable energy is not only a good source of alternative electrical power for homeowners, but it can also supply large scale electricity needs for villages, cities, and entire countries. Wind farms consisting of many elevated turbines spread out over open, non residential areas can be connected to an electric power grid to power numerous homes.
For instance, around 25% of the electricity used in Denmark is produced from large wind turbines, and the goal is to have 50% of the country's electrical needs met from wind farms by 2020, and 100% from renewable energy by 2050. †
The photo below shows an operating wind turbine in Jutland, Denmark. The young girl seated on her bicycle is barely visible at the bottom-right of the photo below, showing the great size and height of the towers.
Wind farms are a common sight in Denmark, and the tall turbine towers set amid the farm crops blend into the Danish countryside and go virtually unnoticed by passersby.
The bases of the tall towers require only a small environmental footprint considering the significant amount of green electrical power generated by the wind turbine, and its positive effect in the reduction of greenhouse gases.
While sightseeing in Scotland in 2010, my wife and I traveled northward into the Scottish Highlands, following the course of the Caledonian Canal to Fort Augustus on Loch Ness and on through to Inverness. From the winding highway, we noticed several wind farms prominently perched on distant highland slopes.
Wind power is Scotland's fastest growing renewable energy source. The Scottish government has set a target of generating 50% of Scotland's electricity from renewable energy by 2020. Other countries should take note of these wind energy facts.
The photo below shows a wind farm operating in the Scottish Highlands with the ever-present sheep grazing around the tall towers.
Wind farms can range in size from those having just 2 or 3 turbines to others that have up to 900 or more. The towers elevating the turbines vary in height, but most are at least 80 feet tall to raise the blades of the turbine above the interference of trees, uneven ground features, and manmade structures so they can catch the prevailing winds.
A wind turbine typically has 3 large blades and it's situated on a tall metal pole or on a hollow access tower, depending on its size. Electrical power is generated by the turbine when its blades are turned by the wind.
The high towers with their slowly turning blades are sometimes quite visible on the horizon, so they're not always popular with environmentalists and those who prefer a pristine view of the countryside.
If you plan to install a small wind turbine for residential use, there are several designs to consider for roof installations and most perform quite well.
Larger models will need to be elevated on a tower above surrounding
structures, so you will need to have enough land area to accommodate a
tower, since it must be situated far enough from neighbors to not be
considered a nuisance.
Larger wind turbines also need to be distanced away from your home for safety concerns. Turbines are highly mechanical in nature and subject to harsh weather conditions. There's always the danger from a loose blade flying off in a severe windstorm to consider.
Before making any installation plans, you will need to check your local zoning regulations and a building permit will likely be required.
As for noise considerations, small wind turbines are moderately quiet and when the blades are turning, they make about as much noise as a household washing machine.
However, the constant drone or subtle hum of the spinning blades can be a bit distracting at times, and some people find the sound unnerving and a potential health issue. Any issues that concern nearby neighbors must also be considered.
Obviously, to take advantage of this source of renewable energy you'll need to live in an area that receives enough wind on a year-round basis. Houses in coastal regions and in areas of high elevation perform best.
However, a study of wind energy facts reveals that modern turbines don't require strong winds to be effective. An average wind speed of around 9 mph is all it takes to drive a turbine and produce electrical power.
"Wind maps" can help you to determine if your home is in a suitable location to receive the necessary winds.
For example, the Environment Canada Wind Energy Atlas site offers free wind maps for downloading that display the average wind velocity and power for anywhere in the country. Similar maps are available in other countries and can be found easily by searching on Google.
The wind doesn't blow continuously, so most home turbine installations
have both the electric power grid and the turbine connected to the house
so the household can use electricity from the utility company when
there's no wind blowing to turn the blades.
When it's really windy and your turbine can produce more power than your household needs, you can simply sell the excess electrical power back to the utility company and offset your electric bill, provided your utility company offers a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program.
The wind energy facts we've discussed reveal that this source of renewable energy is not for everyone since not everyone has the windy location or the ideal space needed, but it does offer a good source of renewable power for those able to meet its demands.
Other Types of Renewable Energy
† Danish Wind Industry Association. "Wind Energy." Denmark.dk. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. n.d. Web. 17 Sep. 2015.