Wind power is one of the ‘big three’ in clean energy production in the United States. Along with solar power and biomass, wind energy contains the potential to end our energy dependence on fossil fuels, and make it possible to be completely energy independent. Here are ten facts about wind energy in the United States.
1. It’s only getting cheaper
Wind energy is currently at the cheapest price it’s ever been for the United States and the U.K. Wind energy has actually been on a graduated slope, getting cheaper and cheaper every year. As cool as it is to have the cheapest wind energy yet, it’s much cooler to see that this isn’t a fad, but an occurrence that can be observed throughout the years. Wind energy hasn’t taken a quick dip in price only to jump in price down the road like fossil fuels. Even when you factor in government subsidies and tax dollars spent, wind energy is ultimately still cheaper. Plus, we aren’t destroying the environment when we use it.
2. Who Makes the Turbines?
Turbines are actually made by a wide variety of sources. It’s no longer companies no one has ever of heard of producing turbines in small sectors of America. These days, the big boys like General Electric are producing some of the biggest and best turbines. Their designs are being used for both onshore and offshore turbines. Their domestic manufacture makes it easier and cheaper to build. Even foreign electronics companies like Siemens and Vesta are getting involved in the wind turbine industry. As the market grows, we are likely to see more and more companies produce wind turbines.
3. Large Regional Differences
One of the few downsides to wind power is how regional the use of wind energy can be. In some locations, it’s just impossible to install wind turbines. This could be done to mountainous terrain, or because the groundwater is too high. The regions that produce massive amounts of energy are seemingly taking advantage of wind power. The American Midwest’s open plains are perfect for harvesting wind energy. Texas, for example, generates a little less than 20 percent of the wind energy in the entire country. Wind power is a regional source of electricity, but it could power some of the most populous states, like California.
4. Wind Turbines are Growing
Well not literally, like trees, but in installed size. As technology and design improves, engineers are capable of making bigger and bigger turbines. This isn’t just height, or blade length, but growth in the potential power a turbine can generate. Turbine capacity is growing every year, and it has even overtaken Nuclear power in overall capacity. Since the 1990s, turbine capacity has increased over a 170 percent, and the physical size of turbine rotors has increased over a hundred percent. This massive growth is spurred by consumer demand, and the need for bigger, better turbines. Where there’s demand, there is a manufacturer and engineer looking to meet it.
5. Turbine farms are everywhere
Every year we are seeing more and more turbine farms sprouting up across the United States. These turbine farms are adding to the overall gigawatts of electrical energy used throughout the United States. We’ve seen growths of as much at 4.85 gigawatts in a single year. Wind energy isn’t growing as fast as say solar, which saw 7 gigawatts, but they are quickly gaining on solar and even biomass power. Right now, we have almost 66 gigawatts of electrical power generated by wind turbines, which places us in second place for total wind energy production in the entire world.
6. Offshore Wind
One of the best places to gather the wind is offshore, and wind turbines are being produced for offshore use. Offshore wind turbines are perfect because they do not affect communities, there is nothing to block the wind, and plenty of wind is generated offshore for the taking. Offshore wind farms have proven more popular with European countries and have proven effective. It is only a matter of time before the United States takes advantage of offshore wind turbines.
7. Windy Economics
Like all green based energy, the wind turbine industry stands to lift America’s economy. The majority of fossil fuels are brought in for overseas and this causes the United States to be reliant on foreign sources. Wind energy can economically free the United States and stand to create thousands of domestic jobs. These jobs are skilled labor positions and pay quite well. Over 135 billion dollars have been invested into wind energy, and there are a variety of tax subsidies that make building turbines cheaper and cheaper.
8. Subsidies are going nowhere
Federal subsidies for wind energy are going nowhere anytime soon. The United States and the world at large have dedicated themselves to clean, green energy sources, and the United States government is perfectly willing to give up a little tax revenue to see these projects succeed. There were a few scary years where the wind subsidy appeared to be going the way of the dinosaurs; luckily this was stopped and current projects will be subsidized regardless of when they are finished.
9. The Future is Bright
There are a massive amount of future wind products currently in the works. Wind turbine installation is serious business and not something easily done overnight. This massive turbine requires a lot of land, and site prep before the ground is even broken. However, the projects currently lined up involve over 96 gigawatts of power installation. This is close to a 150% of the current power being generated. Once these projects are approved and construction begins, we will see one of the most massive surges in wind energy.
10. The EPA Helps!
A new EPA regulation that falls under the President’s Clean Power Plan will make it possible for the individual states to do more. This regulation allows states to invest in wind energy and lower their overall carbon footprint. While it’s far from perfect, this plan does keep Federal and State subsidies flowing for clean wind energy.