Is Wind Energy Not Worth The Investment?

August 26, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, News, Wind

Robert Bryce from the Wall Street Journal thinks that wind energy could actually be causing more carbon emissions than often advertised.  Bryce found research that suggests because wind is not a consistent source of energy, coal plants have to pick up the slack.  The research found that it requires more energy to start coal fire generators than if left running.  Hist entire piece called  Wind Power Won’t Cool Down the Planet can be found on the Wall Street Journal.

Not Thinking Ahead

The major flaw with Bryce’s argument would have to be the fact that he is only thinking about now, without looking ahead into the future.  Wind may be the most popular now, but there are so many other sources of energy that we can invest in that could help us eliminate our need for coal and oil.  I may be a little naive, but I would hope that America would one day rely on only renewable and clean energy sources.

That could be 50, 75 or even more than 100 years down the road.  The fact is that we cannot continue to rely on the current sources of energy that we are without causing further damage to our planet as well as shortage of those sources.  The only way we are going to see long term reduction in carbon emissions is if we keep investing and continue to incorporate wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources available to us.

The cost of investing in renewable energy is high at the moment, but it could help reduce future energy costs.  Research can also be done now to help reduce that cost and help make it more efficient in the future.  The cost will be drastically reduced and electricity can be generated a higher percentage of the time.

Another point that he brings up is that natural gas is a solution we should consider.  There is enough natural gas to meet our needs, but what happens when that runs out?  It’s only a matter of time before we have to go back and start considering renewable energy sources again.

To answer the original question of this post: Yes.  Some of the points that Bryce brings up in his article are valid.  People may be pocketing incentives from the government and wind energy is currently expensive.  The major problem is that all solutions we currently have are only short term.  We need to continue investing in renewable energy and get over these initial speed bumps to one day be using a source that will not leave us in a bind in the future.

What are your thoughts?

Wind Turbines Designed for Your House

March 3, 2009 · Filed Under Wind
Household Wind Turbine
Photo by thingermejig.

Homeowners in the UK have the benefit of having custom micro wind generators built just for houses. Windsave is the company behind making micro wind turbines built specifically for each homeowner to maximize their energy benefit as well as the most cost effective solution. What makes Windsave’s solution so unique is that they use Solidworks CAD software to design wind turbines, thus reducing their carbon foot print while saving money.

WindSave

Windsave was started in 2002 in Glasgow, Scotland to provide micro renewable energy solutions for individuals and businesses. They currently have the WindSave system that was developed to generate energy from small amounts of wind. These solutions can really help reduce a household’s need to tap into the electric grid by providing a portion from wind energy. They would like individuals and small businesses to take their energy needs into their own hands instead of continuing to rely on large energy companies.

Solidworks

If you are not already familiar with Computer aided Design or CAD software, it allows many professions to represent a 3 dimensional object into a 2 dimensional drawing. Architects and a variety of engineers rely heavily on CAD software to allow them to draft up drawings much more quickly than anything in the past. Solidworks is currently one of the more popular types of CAD software available on the market today. Windsave utilizes their software to be able to model their wind turbines in a timely manner to cut out a lot of cost, while saving time if a redesign is necessary. They have also been able to make their micro wind generator much more aerodynamic and efficient because of the CAD software tool at a fraction of the cost of using traditional methods.

It seems like there are more companies sprouting up in other countries to help consumers help lower their reliance from monopolizing energy companies and do so by using a renewable energy source like wind energy. Hopefully a company like Windsave starts up in America as it would allowing individuals to choose another renewable energy sources besides solar. Even though it will not solve all of our energy needs, it could move us in the right direction and maybe put some pressure on our greedy energy companies.

Super-Yachts Go Green With Wind and Solar Energy

December 1, 2008 · Filed Under Solar, Technology, Wind

For all those multi-millionaires out there that want to enjoy the seas comfortably while going green, there is a new boat that could fit the bill. The Solar Sailor company based out of Sydney, Australia is creating a series of super-yachts that will run off of solar and wind energy. The idea is to create a solar sail that can multi-task as a sail and it’s energy source. A huge problem with many of the current yachts sailing on the seas is that they guzzle tons of gas and emits tons of pounds of CO2. The reason they require so much energy is that they not only need to run these huge boats, but they also have fancy equipment like Jacuzzis and movie theaters that require tons of energy to operate. One thing that shocked me was to see that they huge yachts can consume as much 1 liter of fuel per second. That’s right not minute but second.

Solar Yacht
Photo by stangls.

The technology works through a computer system that will control the solar sail. The sail can then be electronically mounted based off of the sun’s position or the direction of the wind. Not only would the vessels be getting 5% of its energy from the solar panels mounted on the sails, but they would also be getting approximately 20-40% of the total energy needs from wind. This could save the owners tons of money to operate their yachts as well as eliminate tons of emissions.

The thing that frustrates me the most about this is: why do you need such a large and elaborate boat? Is it really necessary to have a yacht of such size that requires so much fuel to run? Just because the ultra wealthy that own super-yachts have the money to buy these, why not allocate you money elsewhere. Even after adding these great renewable energy modifications to these boats, they still are going to be burning tons of fuel. They are just burning less that they previously were. This is how our environment has taken such a huge hit. The need to have massive machines and boats that require tons of energy to operate. Even if they were to convert these massive boats to run completely on renewable energy, it still doesn’t make them green or eco-friendly. Tons of materials are needed to build these devices just to make a few people more comfortable when they are sailing. I’m all for supporting renewable energy, but we as a society also need to start conserving more. What are you thoughts.

Texas Walmarts to Begin Using Wind Energy

November 25, 2008 · Filed Under Alternative Energy, News, Wind

Walmart recently purchased a huge amount of wind energy from the Duke energy company to power approximately 360 of their stores in Texas. The energy will come from a wind farm that is currently under construction in Notrees, Texas. It will be completed in April of 2009 and will produce 226 million kWh of energy per year, enough to offset 139,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. This energy purchase will push Walmart into the top 15 of EPA’s list of green power purchasers in America.

The motivation for this plan seems to be economical in both terms of saving money on energy costs as well as better press as Walmart will now be seen as “green” by the media. I’m not really a huge fan of Walmart, but this is the right move in my opinion. With our country is such hard economic times, buying this amount of wind energy can really help boost . Hopefully this will encourage other retailers to buy renewable energy and for Walmart to expand using renewable energy in their stores throughout the country.

British Wind Farm Proposal Brings Controversy

November 24, 2008 · Filed Under Environment, News, Wind

The British Environment Agency is considering building an 80 turbine wind farm development that would be partially built on several major water bodies including the River Thames, the River Medway in the North Downs and parts of the Fens. The wind farm should produce approximately 200 megawatts of energy, enough energy to power 90,000 households. Some of them will be built in lands surrounding the agency’s offices and pumping stations. The remaining will be put riverside of the rivers mentioned above. The plan is to produce enough energy to run all of the agency’s offices along with making an additional $5 million in revenue each year by putting extra electricity back into the grid.

By developing these renewable energy projects we are helping to limit and adapt to the effects of climate change, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and help develop a low-carbon economy. We are identifying the main contributors to our own carbon footprint – such as major pumping stations – and looking at how we can generate renewable energy to power them.

Wind Farm Turbine
Photo by phault.

This does seems like a perfect plan on the surface, but it is not pleasing everybody. Many people living in these areas as well as critics of the plan have said that the construction of this wind farm could do more harm that good. The biggest concern they have is the well being of the landscapes in these area’s, being unattractive sites along with harming the local wildlife. There is also a concern that the amount of renewable energy generated by these turbines will not even come close to removing the country’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Wind turbines can have a serious impact on the appearance of a landscape and certainly should not be located in areas of natural beauty or national parks.

The agency ensured that it will consult with the public and take these factors into consideration before finalizing plans. This is really a tough situation. On the one hand, this agency is trying to make a difference by running all their offices on renewable energy as well as provide more for the entire country. On the other hand, the natural landscape could be affected by them being present. In my opinion, I actually like the look of the wind turbines and don’t feel at all that they detract from the natural landscape. I agree with the agency that this is the correct move and to continue our dependency on fossil fuels based on the principal that it controls too much of the market is not the right way to go.

Oklahoma State University Offering Wind Turbine Technology Degree

November 12, 2008 · Filed Under Green, Wind

Oklahoma State University: Oklahoma City is offering one of the countries first wind turbine technologies degree programs. The Oklahoma State Regents voted unanimously to bring OSU this degree program. The two year associates degree program will allow graduates to work on utility-scale wind turbines. The degree program focuses on a variety of topics surrounding wind turbines including:

  • Power Distribution
  • Operation and Maintenance
  • Motors and Generators
  • Diagnosis and Repair
  • Internship
Wind Turbine Technician
Photo by greenforall.org.

Dr. Jerry Nielsen, OSU-OKC Science and Engineering Division Head, talks about how important this degree program is for the future of the wind energy market in this country:

The wind industry is such an important factor in Oklahoma’s economy right now. OSU-OKC is on pace to graduate students who can be ready to go to work in the wind patch at the exact time the industry is calling for trained professionals.

This is a really telling quote. It shows that the wind industry is really taking off, especially in the Mid-West where wind is an abundant source. In order to prepare workers to be able to properly work on wind turbines, programs like these are a necessity. There are also other degree program popping up in other smaller colleges throughout America including one in Highland Community College in Kansas. Degree programs like these will probably only be started in areas where wind turbines are being rapidly constructed. Hopefully as wind turbines begin to be constructed all throughout America that more colleges begin to offer this degree program to ensure that wind turbines are properly maintained and repaired.

This Week in Environmental News: October 18th

October 18, 2008 · Filed Under Alternative Energy, Environment, Government, News, Wind

World Environmental News

Many of the European Union’s 15 original member nations are on target to meet Kyoto treaty commitments original agreement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 8% by the year 2012. The only countries that our currently behind the others include Denmark, Italy and Spain. Just yesterday a report was released by the European Environment Agency in order to detail each countries progress on meeting the treaty. The report also included that all countries were on target to meeting their long term goal of reducing emissions 20% by 2020. It is good to see that Europe as a whole is pushing all original members to it’s original agreement to reduce emissions that harm our environment. Also in the treaty was that all it’s members be using 20% of their energy needs from renewable energy. Most of the countries are far from meeting that goal, but many countries including Britain are at work to moving their countries to use renewable sources of energy like wind and solar.

Wind Energy News

A business fund owned by Abu Dhabi’s government is buying a 20% share in London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm development. Masdar green investment fund invests in the research and development of clean renewable energy. The fund bought 40% of German’s giant energy company E.on current half share in the project. The project could have as many as 271 wind turbines offshore in the Thames Estuary of Britain. The funds provided give the project a surer footing as their have been many financial worries over the past few months. The wind farm will generate an estimated 1,000 megawatts of power, enough electricity to power around 750,000 homes. That amount of energy will boost Britain’s percentage of energy coming from renewable energy in order to meet the EU’s target of 20% by the year 2020.

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