Wind Power

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Wind power is used to convert wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as electricity. As of 2013, 103 countries around the world are using wind power, with 3% of global energy being supplied by wind power. Thousands of wind turbines operate both onshore and offshore, with a total worldwide capacity of 369,553MW as of 2014. A modern 2.5MW turbine at a reasonable site will generate 6.5 million units of electricity each year, enough to meet the annual needs of over 1,400 households, make 230 million cups of tea, or run a computer for 2,250 years. Today, the UK government estimates that offshore wind alone could meet Britain’s current demand for electricity 10 times over.

As an alternative to fossil fuels, wind energy is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, and clean. In addition, no greenhouse gases are emitted during operation. However, since wind speed is not constant, a wind turbine’s capacity factor is usually only 20-40% per year. Thus, electricity generated from wind power can be highly variable at several different timescales (hourly, daily or seasonally). Although, wind is always in constant supply somewhere, making it a dependable source of energy. There have been complaints that wind turbines are noisy and are an eyesore, but these social costs are considered to be relatively minor, and drastically reduced if the wind farm is built offshore.

Compared to the environmental impact of many traditional energy sources, the impact of wind power is relatively minor. Wind power produces the lowest amount of CO2 of any form of energy at just 25gCO2-e/kWh. Unlike fossil fuel power sources, wind power consumes no fuel and emits no air pollution. As of 2015, wind energy costs between $0.08/kWh and $0.20/kWh (compared to coal at between $0.10/kWh and $0.14/kWh)”. However, the energy used to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind farm is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months. And as technology advances, prices will continue to drop.

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