I had a friend ask me if it was worth it to go with wind for my electricity and I honestly didn’t have a good answer. As I hate to be tongue-tied and felt like if I was going to effectively evangelize the benefits of eco-living it might be a good idea to have some answers other than "I just saw the Al Gore movie and had to do something."
So, I checked out a couple of different sites – one local and the other more national.
AWEA is a national trade association that represents wind power plant developers, wind turbine manufacturers, utilities, consultants, insurers, financiers, researchers, and others involved in the wind industry — one of the world’s fastest growing energy industries.
This was a great site. Full of basic information, faqs, and small wind in Colorado, including details on what is Wind energy, how it works and the health of the industry. Check out the Wind Energy Basics!
This site is for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. NWTC researchers work with members of the wind energy industry to advance wind power technologies that lower the cost of wind energy through research and development of state-of-the-art wind turbine designs.
I liked this site in part because I found out I can visit the research facility. But I did get a little confused following one of the links from the NWTC site that I clicked on to find out more information about tours. The link led me to the National Renewable Energy Lab. But the tour is still local and you can go on a self-guided tour at their facility in Golden, which I am definitely going to do.
Getting back to my friend’s question. I pulled this list directly from the NWTC site to use as a response next time I am asked if it is worth the extra cost.
- Wind energy is a free, inexhaustible renewable resource.
- Wind energy is a source of clean, non-polluting electricity. A single utility-scale (750 kW) wind turbine can prevent the emission of 5000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere each year. It would take 500 acres of forest to absorb that much CO2.
- California wind plants effectively save the energy equivalent of 4.8 million barrels of oil per year.
- Wind power plants can help increase our nation’s energy security. They are modular and can be constructed more quickly than conventional energy plants to meet emergency energy needs. Also, the energy they produce displaces imported fuels.
- Wind energy provides more jobs per dollar invested than any other energy technology.
- Wind energy can provide additional income for ranchers and farmers.
- Wind power plants increase property tax revenues for local communities.
Of course, some people have argued that the turbines are a blight on the landscape and contribute to visual pollution. They are also noisy. I don’t live near any and I must admit that while driving through Wyoming and seeing 40 or more of them on the horizon that they gave me a creepy feeling. But to put this debate in context…I grew up in San Antonio and would go down to Corpus Christi for vacations at the beach with my family. I don’t think we have a single picture of us near the shoreline without an oil derrick in the background. Now, I am not suggesting we substitute one blight for another but it does make you wonder about the whole definition of visual pollution. I, for one, think the wind turbine contributes less but that’s me.