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Earth For Energy

Steven Milbrandt

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Until recently, many people, particularly in North America have taken their energy resources for granted. In a generation where a self first attitude prevailed, the needs of the masses were satisfied now, often at the expense of future generations. Even now at the beginning of the twenty-first century, at time when select groups and scientific communities have begun to sound the alarm, people are slow to react. Those who cite cost considerations and a forced change in lifestyle often echo a familiar refrain; so many are reluctant to change. However, something must be considered and wind power is leading the way in new and better ways to do many things including generating electricity in a clean, safe and renewable way.

Wind power is a form of renewable energy gaining popularity in the US, Germany and northern European countries. The basic unit of generating electricity from wind is a windmill with large propellers or a wind turbine. Wind is converted into electricity by magnets moving past stationary coils of wire. These wire coils are also called the “stator". After magnets pass by the stator, AC electricity is the result. This type of power is a safe form of energy that can be regenerated as new wind levels repeat the process.

Wind as a source of energy is economically viable, does not produce any physical pollution and can contribute radically to the reduction in air pollution. Other energy sources are far less environmentally sound. Coal is one example. Coal generates huge amounts of green house gases. In the United States, coal is used most often to produce electricity because not only is it incredibly cheap, America has centuries worth of coal available for its use. However, coal-fired power stations, while they provide reliable constant, cheap power, they cannot easily be turned on and off. Coal-fired power stations are by far the most polluting of all power stations, both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.

Wind turbines work by taking the wind, an energy source and converting it into another type of energy - electricity. Electricity produced this way can also be connected to the national electricity grid. A special inverter and controller change DC electricity to AC at a quality and standard acceptable to the grid.

Harnessing the wind for electricity and to turn gears and make other things work is a very old idea, but it is only now gaining prominence again. Farms in the Netherlands in the 1800s were dotted with windmills, because that's what drove the pumps to keep the water out. Besides Europe, one of the main places where wind power is making huge inroads is Australia. That country has a large amount of space for building power stations with huge areas of solar collectors. Australia is in one of the best positions in the world to be developing alternative, sustainable energy sources such as wind and solar power. With current technologies, wind power costs about the same price to produce as coal, and much cheaper than nuclear power.

Critics of wind and solar power argue that wind power costs more per kilo-watt-hour to produce in the short tern. They also say that wind turbines especially commercial ones can be very noisy. Turbines when operational generate a low frequency humming noise. As the blades speed up, the noise level increases. Size is another consideration. Sizes range from small one hundred watt units for single homes to much larger ones. The larger ones have a blade diameter of more than fifty meters. However, this is only for large commercial applications. Many people believe that power generation with a wind-propelled unit is cost prohibitive. The reality is that you can build a unit and start generating electricity for yourself for about two hundred dollars. Links to build a smaller unit for yourself are available at the end of this article. With respect to solar power, opponents argue that this type of power only works when the sun is shining, and even though the sun is free the panels are costly at the present time. However with government incentives and rebates the costs of solar power are reduced.

Wind power is the cheapest of the alternative energy sources at present. The UK has recently announced a project to build 7,000 offshore wind turbines to provide power for the bulk of domestic households by 2020. So some governments do see the value in wind power despite its detractors.

Another consideration about Australia is their ever-increasing reliance on wind power. . Electricity produced is supplied through grids to different stations. Electric energy is one of the foundations of society and the technological progress we take for granted. In Australia, the economy relies on electricity being fairly cheap. Electricity can even be fed back into the grid if the user does not require it. The environment benefits from a reduction in greenhouse emissions in two ways: the power generation is greenhouse friendly and no power is wasted in getting it from source to user.

Wind power is the fastest-growing energy generation industry in the world. Notwithstanding a lack of government support, across the world the industry has grown at an average rate of twenty-nine over the past 10 years. This growth is concentrated in California in the United States, Spain, Germany, Denmark and several other European countries.

The disadvantages of coal are a fuel source has been noted. Those who believe nuclear power is the answer have to look at this negatives here too. Nuclear energy is dangerous and expensive. The main appeal is to those who hope for business as usual. The other group nuclear energy appeals to are large engineering companies anticipating big contracts at the expense of taxpayers and consumers. Nuclear plants are also subject to human error that may result in nuclear disaster and environmental contamination as it has in the past in Russia. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear disaster in history. On April 26, 1996 reactor number four exploded. For hundred times more fallout was released than had been by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The benefits of wind and other clean sources of energy are evident. Demand for cheaper fuel will rise as gas prices continue to climb. Wind power is one good source to accomplish many tasks such as the production of electricity, and when used in conjunction with cog and wheels to turn rods and mechanical parts a great many other useful tasks happen. Even a small wind driven system such as can be produced for approximately two hundred dollars can yield amazing results and cost savings. It is time to take a new look at an old idea. Wind power is making a difference both now and in the future.

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