Sunday, April 1, 2012

Research Paper on Wind Power

Research Paper on Wind Power

Wind power as renewable energy source
In this paper we are going to consider the issues of wind power as one of possible energy sources, namely the short history of its usage by people, possible spheres of its application, likely positive and negative if any outcomes of this energy source.

Natural resources, such as wind, sunlight, rain, geothermal heat and so on can be used as sources of renewable energy. 

Thousands of years ago people learnt, that wind can produce energy, which they can use for their goals. Already in ancient Egypt people used wind for sailing their ships on the Nile River (Bernard, 1990). Time passed and windmills appeared in Persia, later they were developed by Dutch people, adding blades with sails. In America windmills were used for grinding wheat and pumping water. In 1920s such windmills became also the source of electricity in some regions. In 1980s California became the leading state using wind energy, spreading this experience to other states as well. Nowadays, wind is mostly applied for electricity production. Wind is a renewable energy, as it blows as long as shines the sun. The only problem for wind machines is the time, when the wind is not blowing; however this problem can be sold through temporary substitution of wind power with other sources of energy.

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“In 2005, wind machines in the United States generated a total of 17.8 billion kWh per year of electricity, enough to serve more than 1.6 million households” (Bezdek, 2007). This was the result of rapid growth of wind power application since 1998. Researches showed, that America is the third country in world in wind power capacities, this is first of all due to support from the government of the wind power development programs and also due to taxation systems.

Speaking about any type of energy source, this is always important to consider the possible impact of this source upon environment. By 1990s, when the researchers proved, that changes of global climate are possible, concerns for environment caused the renewal of search for alternative sources of energy. Wind, if compared to fossil fuels, has considerable advantages, it is absolutely clean and can not cause any pollution of air or water. “Growing concern about emissions from fossil fuel generation, increased government support, and higher costs for fossil fuels (especially natural gas and coal) have helped wind power capacity in the United States grow substantially over the last 10 years” (Motavalli, 2005). The most serious problems, which can be caused by the wind energy are related to wild bird populations.

Till nowadays two major types of wind machines were in use, they are also called turbines; the difference between them lies in the position of axis – horizontal and vertical. In general wind machines are of different sizes and thus can be applied both for small houses and also for commercial purposes with the capacity of 5 million watts. Often these turbines are grouped and make wind farms. Wind farms are used as sources for electricity production; one wind farm may consist of tens of machines, placed within a huge area. “The world’s largest wind farm, the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas, has 421 wind turbines that generate enough electricity to power 230,000 homes per year” (Chapman, 2003).

There are various wind power projects worked out, some aim at reducing the electricity costs, others are done in order to correspond to the “green pricing” programs. If to take an area with good wind resources, than a big wind power project might sufficiently reduce the cost of electricity in comparison to a new power plant. The output of wind power is however not always consistent, thus special utilities are used for integrating wind power with other electricity generators. In the United States the wind resource is quite sufficient, this means, that it should be theoretically enough for all electricity needs, for example one third of all needed electricity could come from North Dakota. In total 46 states have the corresponding winds for producing power. At the moment, however, only around 1% of electricity comes from wind power. The further wide development of wind power usage is quite feasible and needs only energy policy support from the government. The minimal figure, which is potentially defined for wind power is 20%; this confirms, that wind power is ready to be used as an energy source in the United States.

“The main incentive for wind, the production tax credit (PTC) is an effective policy to facilitate wind power development, as evidenced by today’s growth in the use of wind power” (Bezdek, 2007). In this case the owners of wind projects would have the chance to pay taxes only for the produced energy and can apply better technologies for each wind turbine.

It is of vital importance to create long-term policies for wind energy, as for example for oil and gas there are permanent tax codes, used since the 1920s, whereas PTC expired and was renewed five times already and is expected to expire at the end of 2008 again. As a result of this, subsidiaries for clean energy technologies are temporary and most subsidiaries for older energy are permanent (Bezdek, 2007). The benefits of wind energy introduction are evident, including domestic energy sources, considerable savings for waste clean up and reduced health.

Recently America managed to increase the capacity of wind power by 45%, which made 16.8 gigawatts in 2007. Texas and California were said to be the largest producers of wind energy. One megawatt of wind energy is equal to electricity consumption of around 250 households of the country (Bezdek, 2007). The Wind Energy Association states, that in 2008 the wind power could be enough for 4.5 million households. U.S. Department of Energy in its turn proves, that three states in America are able to provide wind power for the whole country, including offshore wind farms.

Overall, it can be concluded, that wind power is an alternative energy source for the United States under the conditions of corresponding support from government. The major advantages of the wind power are: no consumption of any natural sources and avoiding of pollution of atmosphere and worsening the so-called greenhouse effect.
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