Wind energy is just one part of the clean energy solution. Not all parts of the world have enough wind to reliably create electricity, and wind turbines can be a threat to birds. But, wind coupled with other clean energies may eventually replace conventional electricity.
Wind energy, along with solar, is one of the most promising renewable energy sources under development. But, a lot has to be worked out before it’s viable on a large scale. For one, wind turbines are extremely dangerous to birds and other flying animals, so extra care must be taken not to build them on the migration routes of endangered species. Another is noise pollution: wind turbines produce a significant level of noise that affects the daily life of both humans and anmals in the vicinity.
Wind turbines require a significant quantity of neodymium for the magnets in the motors. At present, almost all the world’s neodymium is mined in China, and the US is 100% dependent on imports, mostly from China, for neodymium.
As mentioned, wind energy is a small part of the entire energy network of sources which bundled together is conventional electricity. It is coupled with of course other renewable energy, solar, biomass, hydroelectric and so forth but wind energy alone will never satisfy our energy needs by itself.
A small point to consider is how all renewable sources of energy are going to only be supplemental to other large energy sources like nuclear and coal. Until efficiency spikes a great deal, if it ever does, I doubt we will ever see an energy infrastructure completely run by wind.
Wind certainly isn’t the entire answer on its own, but where it works, it works well, and it is well-complemented by the qualities of other renewable energy sources and by improved grid technologies to connect them. With wind, going bigger is better: larger, taller turbines are able to capture a larger share of the flow of wind energy through the atmosphere with a smaller total footprint; also note that the area both inside and outside the turbine tower is theoretically usable. The largest wind farms in planning today are in the range of a gigawatt or even more (see story below on an 845-MW wind farm being built in Oregon). Wind power is also the cheapest form of new electricity generation in many locales today, and beats out nuclear in up-front costs according to the E.U. climate chief (cite #2), with the side benefit of no meltdowns and potentially fewer explosions.
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