Wind Power Now and Tomorrow
Anyone driving from Los Angeles to Palm Springs can’t help but notice the gritty landscape both rural and urban along the way. Each of these has a unique charm to those who see it that way. One thing everyone can see, however, when nearing Palm Springs are the thousands of wind turbines marching across the desert like colossal aliens. Do these wind power turbines have a future in a sustainable energy program? Let’s take a look.
Wind power is defined as the conversion of energy from wind into a form of energy through the use of turbines. The amount of economically feasible extractable power from wind available is much more than from other sources of energy in use today. Wind power is also a non-polluting, sustainable form of energy, making it well worth the expense of further research and development of extracting wind power perhaps by other means than the giant turbines most in use today.
Currently, wind power has the capacity to generate 430 TWh (terrawatt hour) annually or about 2.5% of worldwide energy usage. A large wind farm generally contains several hundred individual wind turbines all connected to an electric power transmission network. Offshore wind energy harnesses the best wind speeds so we will undoubtedly encounter more and more of these offshore farms in the future.
At this point, the offshore facilities provide energy only to isolated locations. The utility companies, though, are increasingly tapping into and buying the electricity generated by these small offshore farms.
The construction of new wind farms is often hampered by the NIMBY philosophy (Not In My Back Yard) due to the ungainly visual impact they provide. The fact remains that they are a viable source of green, non-fossil energy and they here to stay. NIMBYs may learn to view these giants as art forms when they come to understand the positive impact they have on the environment.