Background of Wind Turbines: While there are many types of machines used to harness renewable energy, wind turbines continue to stand as a highly used instrument for energy. Through wind energy, the blades of the wind turbine are propelled around a rotor. Connected to this rotor is the main shaft that spins to create electricity. Wind turbines can range from 100 kilowatts to as large as several megawatts (Wind Energy Technologies Office). Most are generally about 300 feet high with up to three 200-foot long blades (National Geographic). There can also be smaller wind turbines that can be placed in your own backyard to produce a small amount of energy (National Geographic).
Large wind turbines can be blocked and produce a large amount of electricity. There are also offshore wind turbines which allow easier transportation than the land based turbines (Wind Energy Technologies Office). Small turbines can be used for telecommunications dishes and water pumping (Wind Energy Technologies Office). There are many advantages to have wind turbines. Wind turbines, once they are set up, have basically no cost because wind energy is free (National Geographic). Since wind turbines are being mass produced, the cost to own one is becoming lower. Wind energy is a clean, effective, and extremely sustainable way of providing energy.
Also, according to National Geographic, governments can use tax incentives to spur development. There are, however, several disadvantages. There are many people who complain that wind turbines are very ugly and take away from the scenery. Wind turbines also have the possibility of killing birds and other animals, however cars and high rises kill a higher amount of animals (National Geographic).
Another major disadvantage is that without wind, a wind turbine can not use the energy to produce electricity. In the United States, the time period where wind energy was used regularly was during 1870 to 1930. During these years, farmers would use the wind energy in order to pump water. There were quite a few small turbines throughout the countryside during the 1920s and large turbine prototypes were created around the 1940s.
However, with the New Deal, there was a large decrease in wind turbine usage because the New Deal brought “grid-connected electricity to the countryside” (Union of Concerned Scientists). In the 1980s, wind turbines began to be used much more regularly in California. About 15,000 medium size turbines were erected and were able to produce enough electricity for residents of San Francisco (Union of Concerned Scientists). In 2006, the amount of wind energy usage reached record growths.
In the future, it is expected that the usage of wind turbines will continue to grow all around the world. “The Global Wind Energy Council projects global wind capacity will reach 536,000 MW by 2017, almost double its current size, with growth especially concentrated in the Asia and Europe” (Union of Concerned Scientists). By expanding the wind power about 20%, there could be an increase of 500,000 US jobs and a reduction in global warming.