Chris Gorski writes— An op-ed discussing the pull wind energy has in the alternative and green energy market.
By Chris Gorski—
Much has been said about the convenience, quantity and quality of the green energy technologies currently available as resources throughout the US. At this point, few would disagree that research and development for energy sustainability is a negative venture, especially when climate change has become more apparent in the past several years and the cost of this country’s primary form of energy is skyrocketing to unseen amounts.
Most individuals, including the decision-makers controlling the government system, flock toward the painfully obvious choices when it comes to selecting green technology. For instance, electric/hybrid cars have replaced many gas-guzzling SUVs that are used for daily commutes to work, and household alternative energy simply consists of placing solar panels on the roofs of homes. Although these alternatives are legitimate, people do not realize (or intentionally ignore) the other environmental impacts associated with selecting these obvious green technologies.
Electric car batteries and solar panels are both harmful to develop and dispose of, so it’s ultimately a trade-off: one environmental issue becomes resolved while another is created. Instead of focusing on these popular green choices, it is time to focus this country’s R&D in another direction. Wind power has been around for several decades now, with the wind turbines mid-1970s debut when it was created by the late William Heronemus.
Like most of the alternative options, negatives exist with wind turbines. For one, just because an area is windy, does not mean that turbines are efficiently harnessing energy. The design of these turbines limits the intake of energy, as does the amount of turbines in the area. Also, the equipment and setup of these turbines can be pricey; after all, manpower and material capital do cost money. However, research shows that changing the setup of the turbine itself, as well as how each turbine is connected, may increase the efficiency and increase the intake.
The modeling of the original WF-1 design hasn’t changed much since then, however, the technology is still growing with proper investment and incentive options. A successful example of how wind energy has made its mark on this country is demonstrated by MidAmerican Energy, Iowa’s premier energy company. 650 turbines will be added throughout Iowa by 2015, costing around 1.9 billion dollars. Iowa has already laid the groundwork for Wind Energy, displaying that 24.5% of the state’s energy in 2012 was developed by this technology, with South Dakota following right behind with 23.9%. Currently, 3.5% of the country’s energy is developed by wind technology. Of course this is more popular in mid-western and western states with open areas, however, smaller states such as Maine have provided some investment as well.
Despite the positive numbers and consistent investment in wind technology, the instability of our government’s energy policy is causing a negative ripple effect in its advancement, leading to delays in future investment and layoffs from energy companies. If successful advancement of any green energy source is going to take place in the near future, policymakers need to be able to stabilize the market by regulating incoming energy sources and properly investing in energy R&D.
Wind energy has the capability to further provide this country some energy independence, if those in charge will invest their time and interest.