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Todd Jones
WRT 1020
March 1, 2015
Cause and Effect of Wind Powered Energy
Americans are faced with tough challenges as they rise to meet the energy demands of the
21st century. Global warming, economic issues, and the possibility of terrorist attacks on the
countrys infrastructure lead us to consider an alternative energy source. Wind energy can meet
these demands. Wind power used as an alternative energy source is advantageous, because it is
easily accessible, environmentally favorable, and beneficial for the economy.
Wind power is easily accessible, unlimited, and has been used for thousands of years.
Ancient mariners used wind to sail their ships. In A.D. 600s, the Persians used wind to power
windmills, to grind grain, and irrigate crops. During the 1100s wind power use spread to
Europe. In the 1400s the Netherlands used wind power to drain marshes and lakes near the sea.
Today wind energy has the capabilities of powering farms, businesses, and communities.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the wind in the world could supply more than 15
times the planets energy demand.
The idea of wind energy uses the natural wind and converts it to electrical or mechanical
energy. Modern devices called wind turbines are used to harness the wind to create this energy.
The process is as simple as the blowing of the wind. The way it works is that when the wind
blows past the turbine, the blades rotate. The rotation causes the internal shaft to spin. As the
shaft spins it causes the gearbox to increase the speed of rotation, and forwards the energy to a
generator which ultimately produces electricity. Substations collect the electricity, convert it to a

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higher voltage, and send it across the wires. So, as long as the equipment can be manufactured,
and there is wind, then energy can be produced.
Wind is readily available and can be easily generated. It is renewable, and abundant.
Fortunately, the United States has a strong wind resource across the country. Where there is
wind there can be wind powered energy. Siting wind farms is important to the success of the
production of wind energy. There are certain factors to consider in planning the perfect site for a
wind farm. There must be adequate wind. In order to power a turbine, there must be at least a
wind speed of 11 miles per hour. The land rights must be secured along with the correct permits
to develop the land into a wind farm. For transmission of the electricity, it is efficient to be near
existing lines. This would be advantageous for cost reduction. A buyer for the wind power,
namely a utility company, would also be needed. Lastly, and equally important is financing for
the project. Fortunately, the government has made a great push towards replacing traditional
energy with renewable energies and therefore has allotted funds, grants, and credits for those
implementing renewable energy projects. In 2011, the United States set up 3,464 wind turbines
across the country (James, 2013). By the end of 2012, the US had 45,100 wind turbines in
Another advantage of wind power is that it is environmentally favorable. With the
environmental and health concerns burdening the world today, it is no surprise that Americans
are considering alternative energy sources. Wind power is clean and free of pollutants. It
produces no greenhouse gas emissions, including those that are associated with global warming.
There is no acid rain production with wind energy. In addition, the need to dispose of nuclear
waste is not an issue. Therefore, wind power systems do not harm the air, water, or soil.

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Changing from traditional energy to wind energy would mean less risk of depleting the
remaining fossil fuels. The need for invasive drilling of these fossil fuels would be minimized,
thereby decreasing the interruption of the land. The result would be a decreased risk for
environmental contamination. There have been several instances of oil spills that have hurt the
ecosystems and the life contained in them.
Contamination of the air and waterways has created serious health concerns. Wind
energy does not cause health issues. By switching to wind powered energy there would be a
decrease in respiratory and cardiovascular problems caused by pollutants. Death rates as a result
of burning fossil fuels would also decrease. Along with a benefit to health would also be a
decrease in the amount of money spent treating these health risks. The environmental and health
advantages of wind powered energy should be put on the top of the list as an alternative energy
Wind powered energy has significant benefits to the United States economy. Wind
powered energy is inexpensive. The improvement of technology has led to a decrease in the cost
of manufacturing wind energy. The primary factors that determine the cost are capital costs,
capacity factor and operation costs. Capital cost consists of the cost to manufacture and install
the wind turbines. Manufacturing the wind turbines is the costliest component. Fortunately, the
improvement in wind turbine technology has brought these costs down significantly in recent
years. Capacity factor is determined by the strength and quality of the wind at the project site or
wind farm. This will determine the amount of electricity a wind project can produce which
ultimately dictates the cost of electricity. The operating cost is the cost to keep the wind project
going. It includes monitoring and maintaining the wind turbines. With the increasing costs of
traditional electricity, wind powered energy is becoming one of the most affordable forms of

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electricity today. Since Congress established the National Renewable Energy Lab, wind energy
generation costs have fallen 90% (James, 2013). This has led, not only to an increase in the
number of wind farm sites going up around the country, but also to an increase in homeowners
producing their own wind energy. This allows a consumer to plug into the power grid and
receive payment for power they are producing. It comes in the form of a credit against their
electric bill.
During this time when the automotive industry has been struggling, the industry
surrounding wind powered energy has had the ability to produce jobs in various areas, including
jobs in manufacturing of the wind turbines, construction of the wind farms and substations, and
operation and maintenance. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, one wind farm
containing 100 wind turbines creates about 1,073 jobs for the lifetime of the project. Consumers
Energy states that Michigan received an economic boost of about $10 million as a result of the
development of their wind farm, notably called Lake Winds Energy Park. Along with labor costs,
were the millions of dollars used to purchase materials locally (Scott, 2014). This is a huge
innovation towards the future of a wind powered energy source. Having more of the turbines
built will create jobs too.
Wind powered energy contributes to national economic independence. Having means of
obtaining a self-sufficient renewable energy source means the omission of dependency on
foreign countries for resources, such as oil. The United States has to invest a lot of money to
protect countries who supply fossil fuels. This is, unfortunately, politically necessary because of
the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. At a time when the world is in an unstable condition,
the country does not need to be reliant on volatile people for the means of powering utilities.
The fluctuating cost of fossil fuels drives the instability of the American economy. Dependency

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on these foreign countries makes Americas energy supply unstable and creates national security
problems. President Bush spoke in his State of the Union address about the real possibility of
terrorist attacks on American public utilities. The danger of those countries targeting a wind
farm seems unlikely. Those countries rely on our money to carry these acts out. Eliminating the
need for foreign resources for energy means gaining more of our own energy and financial
independence. To put it bluntly, wind power does not need to be imported, shipped, or fought
over. Wind power does not cause an unstable energy supply, therefore eliminating the rising
costs of other energy sources.
Wind powered energy is hard to depend on; the wind is inconsistent, unsteady and
unpredictable. The wind power is not cheap and like many energy sources, rely on government
subsidies to remain competitive. This is a very difficult and expensive process. It takes many
years to build and become useful. Some people complain of noise from the turbines. The noise
can be annoying and will always happen if the wind mills are working. If someone was living
next to one of the mills it would become a problem after a while. At the end of 2011, the US had
46,919MW of installed wind capacity. This number is expected to grow rapidly, whether or not
production tax credits (PTC) are renewed. There have been a number of recent mergers among
wind developers as the industry consolidates (Siegel, 2012). The wind powered energy also has
effect on wildlife. Not only birds, but bats have experienced fatalities.
There are many factors to consider when choosing wind power as an alternative source of
energy. Unfortunately, many fail to realize the lasting benefits it would have on the accessibility
of energy, the favorable conditions it would have on the environment, and the benefits to the
United States economy. Development and implementation of wind powered energy will
continue to make forward progression. The National Resources Defense Council expects to see

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the development of new technology for low wind areas and offshore wind farms. There will also
be a continual drop in cost of land based wind energy. Electrical use will continue to become
more efficient by expanding the system. There will also be an expansion in wind power to meet
the needs of a larger portion of the U.S. With all that said, America needs to continue to move
forward with their initiative to create renewable energy through wind power. Benjamin Franklin
once flew a kite in the wind to harness electricity. Today this same wind will rotate the blades of
a turbine to create wind powered energy.