Wind Turbine - Research Paper


In his article “Move Over, Oil, There's Money In Texas Wind,” Clifford Krauss writes about the growing popularity of wind turbines in Texas. It is an alternative source of energy, and many Texans are turning oil fields into wind farms. If the rate of wind turbines as a use of electrical generation keeps growing, wind power can become the main source of electricity in Texas and eventually the United States. Some drawbacks to wind power and turbines are that they are more expensive than fossil fuels, and on the hottest days, when it is need it the most, it is rarely windy. These turbines are increasing in size, and they are getting deadlier to bats and birds as the size of their blades increase. Despite the drawbacks to wind turbines, they are more environmentally friendly, and wind is also a renewable resource. Wind power is not only confined to Texas. Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado and Oregon have also started using wind turbines as a source of power. Long Island is also on the same track. Other countries have also caught on to wind power, such as Germany and Spain.

Most Texans are content to have wind turbines installed on their property. In fact, it raises their property's value. Instead of worrying about the cost of oil, they have a source of energy they can rely on right in their backyards. “'Even the worst days for wind don't compare to the busts in the oil business' said Bobby Clark, a General Electric wind technician”(Krauss 3). Few Texans have any real issues with the growth of wind power in their state. Texans find the turbines appealing to look at, breath of fresh air in the bleak desert landscape.

Colorado is also building wind turbines. Construction is already under way on the Cedar Creek project in Colorado. This wind power project will have 274 wind turbines. The Cedar Creek Wind Farm is the largest wind power project by Mortenson Construction and it is one of the largest single installations of wind turbines in the United States. “Babcock & Brown and partner awarded the design-build project to Mortenson in December 2006, representing the sixth wind project built by Mortenson for Babcock & Brown.” (“Cedar Creek Wind Farms”). Once Cedar Creek is finished in December 2007, the 300.5 megawatts of wind power will provide enough power for about 120,000 households and employment for approximately 30 maintenance workers. For such a small town of 150 people, the wind project has many business opportunities for employment and provides goods and services.

Not everyone is pleased about the production of wind turbines. Senator Lamar Alexander was criticized from a small Colorado town for his bill that denied tax credits to some wind turbines because he complained that the tax breaks were going to an energy source that was expensive and unreliable. He stated the large wind turbines could ruin the scenery. “The senator has said the large, industrial wind turbines could be a scenic blight” ( “Winds of Change Stirring in Colorado”). During the approval process for Cedar Creek, many interested parties - including the Audubon Society – had a lot to say about the project. Troy Florian, district manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said his agency was worried about how the wind turbines might affect the wildlife.
Wind power energy is produced not only in the U.S. It has spread worldwide. Spain is one of the three world’s largest users of wind power. Wind power has helped Spain to become more eco-friendly and gives it a head start for future, with the government leading this movement. Galacia currently leads wind power development in Spain.”Topographical and climatic conditions in Galicia make the area a favorable one for electricity production by means of wind farms”(Lindkvist). The Spanish government has been very supportive of wind turbines, including producing some Muros, which is in Galacia. Skofteland and Oyjordsbakken (2004) found that it was beneficial for the town of Muros because it created new jobs for engineers and construction workers. The people who decided to take an active role in the development of the wind turbines were people who lived around them.

The Muros community saw the many changes, but the people really didn't really get involved. In general, locals had very little interest in, or knowledge of wind farms. The cost to buy the land for the wind farms was very expensive. This was done by the Santiago de Compostela windmill company, which included 10 employees living in Muros out of a total staff of 40. In Spain’s Atlantic coast, bird lovers, fishermen, and tourism officials have came together to oppose the creation of offshore wind farms, stating that they can harm birds’ migratory patterns, and make the coastline unpleasant to look at. ”A biologist studied the effect that 368 turbines had on birds and bats in the Navarre region in Spain. The result was that nearly 7,000 wild birds were slaughtered in a year”( “Wind Turbine Blow to Birds and Bats”).

Wind turbine projects in Long Island began in 2003, when the building an offshore wind farm was proposed. The “wind park” consisted of forty 3.6 megawatt turbines near Robert Moses State Park. The Long Island Power Authority has plans to become more dependent on wind power for the long-term. The wind park in Long Island was to be the first operating park in the United States. Although the wind turbines in Long Island could be beneficial, whether wind turbines can be constructed more than 3 miles offshore is being reviewed by the Army Corps Of Engineers. The entire project must go through much review and planning before it gets underway. Many Long Islanders are concerned that the building of wind turbines and wind farms is merely a whim of major corporations, rather than a response to the environment and people’s needs. “This ground-breaking project will prove to the country that we can generate electricity that is free of pollution and fuel surcharges, and does not compromise our nation’s energy security”(http://lioffshorewindenergy.org).

I would like to see the construction of the wind parks in Long Island because regardless of the whims of corporations, the wind turbines offer an alternative source of clean energy. The construction of the wind parks will be a good start for the United States to begin to invest more in alternative, and clean sources of energy, instead of continuing to rely on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. Long Island is also a good place to start the placement of wind turbines because of its extensive coastline. The wind turbines should be installed further because the price of oil is skyrocketing, and unlike oil, wind power is a renewable resource. It will also decrease Long Island's dependency on foreign oil.

A useful source of alternative energy is solar power. Although it is 150 million kilometers away, the sun gives off an incredible amount of power and heat that we have been able to turn into energy for our daily lives. The three main ways to harness solar power are solar cells, solar water heating, and solar water furnaces. More and more houses, schools, and buildings are using photo voltaic tiles for power as solar power technology becomes more mainstream. These photo voltaic tiles consist of silicon, and the neutrons have a reaction to the sun and are caught by small wires on the tiles. Solar power is predictable. The sun rises every day and gets hot at the same time of day and the same time of year. Solar energy is also reliable and renewable. “The technology and the systems are becoming smaller, more compact and better looking than when they were first created and used. Early examples of solar power systems can be seen in California where, in the 1980s, enough solar power panels were installed to power over 10 million homes”(Lenfki, Peter).

Solar energy is worthwhile to invest in because, as well as wind power, it is a clean and efficient energy source. In some buildings in New York City, solar power is already being used, which is a good indicator of the bright future of the use of solar energy. Just the tiny fraction of the Sun's energy that hits the Earth (around a hundredth of a millionth of a percent) is enough to meet all our power needs many times over. I favor solar power because it is eco-friendly, it is inexpensive, and takes steps in the direction of making the United States less dependable on un-renewable, expensive, and increasingly harmful energy sources.

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