Oil shortages of the 1970s altered the energy landscape in the United States and around the world. Oil constraints sparked interest in finding new ways to generate electricity using other energy sources like wind. The federal government of the United States backed massive wind turbine research and development. Thousands of wind turbines were installed in California in the early 1980s, partly as a result of federal and state regulations encouraging the use of renewable energy sources.
In response to a rising concern for the environment in the 1990s and 2000s, the US federal government introduced incentives to adopt renewable energy sources. The federal government also granted tax and investment incentives for wind generating projects, as well as research and development funds to assist down the cost of wind turbines. Furthermore, state governments adopted additional renewable energy generation regulations, and electric power marketers and utilities began to offer electricity generated from wind and other renewable energy sources (also known as green power) to their customers. As a result of these policies and programs, the number of wind turbines and the amount of electricity generated by wind energy has increased.
Wind power generation in the United States has increased from less than 1% in 1990 to over 9.2% in 2021. Incentives throughout Europe have resulted in a significant increase in the usage of wind energy. China has made significant investments in wind energy and is now the world’s largest producer of wind energy. In 1990, 16 countries produced around 3.6 billion kWh of wind energy. By 2020, 129 countries (including Puerto Rico) will have generated approximately 1,597 billion kWh of wind energy.
The most recent annual statistics available at the time of update was March 30, 2022.
What was the purpose of the first wind turbine?
Prof James Blyth of Anderson’s College, Glasgow, created the first wind turbine for the production of electricity in Scotland in July 1887. (the precursor of Strathclyde University). Blyth’s ten-meter-high cloth-sailed wind turbine was put in the grounds of his holiday cottage in Marykirk, Kincardineshire, and was used to charge accumulators designed by the Frenchman Camille Alphonse Faure to power the cottage’s lighting, making it the world’s first wind-powered home. Blyth offered the inhabitants of Marykirk the surplus energy to illuminate the main street, but they declined because they believed electricity was “the work of the devil.” Although he later built a wind turbine to provide emergency electricity to Montrose’s Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary, and Dispensary, the innovation was never widely adopted since the technique was not considered economically viable.
Across the Atlantic, in Cleveland, Ohio, Charles F. Brush designed and built a larger and more carefully engineered machine between 1887 and 18888, which was built by his engineering firm at his home and ran from 1888 until 1900. The Brush wind turbine featured a rotor that was 17 meters (56 feet) in diameter and was set on a tower that measured 18 meters (60 feet). The machine, despite its size by today’s standards, was only rated at 12 kW and rotated slowly due to its 144 blades. Brush’s laboratory used the attached dynamo to charge a bank of batteries or to power up to 100 incandescent light bulbs, three arc lamps, and other motors. After electricity became accessible from Cleveland’s central stations in 1900, the machine went out of favor and was eventually abandoned in 1908.
Poul la Cour, a Danish physicist, built a wind turbine in 1891 to create electricity, which was used to electrolyze hydrogen and store it for use in experiments and to illuminate the Askov Folk High School. Later, he invented the Kratostate regulator to tackle the difficulty of producing a constant flow of power, and in 1895, he converted his windmill into a prototype electrical power plant that was used to light the village of Askov.
By 1900, Denmark had over 2,500 windmills, which were employed for mechanical loads like pumps and mills and produced a combined peak power of roughly 30 MW.
Between 1850 and 1900, a vast number of small windmills, probably six million, were built on farms in the American Midwest to power irrigation pumps.
In North and South America, companies including Star, Eclipse, Fairbanks-Morse, and Aeromotor were well-known providers.
What are the three main benefits of wind turbines?
- Wind energy is a cost-effective option. After the production tax credit, land-based utility-scale wind is one of the cheapest energy sources accessible today, costing 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. Wind energy mitigates the price unpredictability that fuel prices add to traditional sources of energy because its electricity is supplied at a fixed price over a long period of time (e.g. 20+ years) and its fuel is free.
- Jobs are created by the wind. The wind industry in the United States employs over 100,000 people, and wind turbine technician is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country. Wind has the potential to provide more than 600,000 employment in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and related services by 2050, according to the Wind Vision Report.
- Wind facilitates industrial growth and competitiveness in the United States. Annually, about $10 billion is invested in the US economy by new wind projects. The United States has large domestic resources and a highly skilled workforce, allowing it to participate in the clean energy economy on a global scale.
- It’s an environmentally friendly fuel source. Wind energy does not contaminate the air in the same way as power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, do, emitting particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, which cause human health problems and economic losses. Wind turbines do not emit any pollutants into the atmosphere that create acid rain, smog, or greenhouse gases.
- Wind is a renewable energy source that can be used in the home. The wind supply in the United States is plentiful and unrestricted. Wind power capacity in the United States has expanded at a rate of 15% per year over the last ten years, making it the country’s largest renewable energy source.
- It’s long-term. The wind is a type of solar energy. Winds are created by the sun’s heating of the atmosphere, the Earth’s rotation, and the irregularities on its surface. The energy produced by the sun and the wind may be captured to send power throughout the grid for as long as the sun shines and the wind blows.
- On existing farms or ranches, wind turbines can be installed. This has a significant economic impact in rural areas, where the majority of the best wind locations are located. Farmers and ranchers can continue to use the land because wind turbines only take up a small portion of it. For the usage of the property, wind power plant owners pay a rent to the farmer or rancher, providing additional income to the landowner.
Who and why does wind energy become used?
Wind turbines can be operated independently, or they can be connected to a utility power grid or integrated with a photovoltaic (solar cell) system. A significant number of wind turbines are frequently placed close together to form a wind plant, also known as a wind farm, for utility-scale (megawatt-sized) sources of wind energy. Wind farms are now used by a number of electrical companies to supply power to their consumers.
Wind turbines that operate on their own are mainly employed for water pumping or communications.
Wind turbines can, however, be used by homeowners, farmers, and ranchers in windy places to reduce their utility expenses.
Distributed Wind Energy
Small wind turbines can also be used as a source of distributed energy. Distributed energy resources are a collection of tiny, modular power-generation technologies that can be integrated to increase the efficiency of the electric grid. The Wind Energy Technologies Office of the US Department of Energy has more information about distributed wind.
Offshore Wind Energy
In the United States, offshore wind energy is a relatively new business. The first offshore wind farm in the United States, located off the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island, began operations in December 2016.
Why do birds die as a result of wind turbines?
The Obama administration is allowing the “taking” (killing) of bald and golden eagles over a 30-year period. The massive birds will be killed “accidentally” by lethal wind turbines put in their breeding territory and “dispersion regions,” where their young congregate (e.g. Altamont Pass). A current government research claims that wind farms will kill “just” 1.4 million birds year by 2030, by accident (if you believe in coincidences). This new analysis is one of many, funded by taxpayers, aimed at persuading the public that the increased mortality caused by wind farms is acceptable. It isn’t the case.
Dr. Shawn Smallwood’s four-year study in 2004 found that the Altamont Pass wind “farm” in California killed an average of 116 Golden Eagles per year. Since it was created 25 years ago, 2,900 “goldies” have died. Altamont is the largest, but not the only, sinkhole for the species, and industry-funded study stating that California’s GE population is steady is a sham.
Eagles aren’t the only ones that have suffered. Smallwood estimated that Altamont killed an average of 300 red-tailed hawks, 333 American kestrels, and 380 burrowing owls per year, as well as 2,526 rock doves and 2,557 western meadowlarks. The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife) evaluated real carcass counts from 136 surveillance surveys in 2012, breaking the European omerta on wind farm death.
According to their findings, Spain’s 18,000 wind turbines kill 6-18 million birds and bats each year. Extrapolating from that and similar (under-publicized) German and Swedish research, 39,000 US wind turbines would kill 13-39 million birds and bats every year, not “just” 440,000 birds (USFWS, 2009) or “only” 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats (Smallwood, 2013). Self-serving and/or politically motivated government agencies, wind industry lobbyists, environmental groups, and ornithologists, on the other hand, are covering up the devastation with a slew of bogus studies paid for with more taxpayer money.
Even though modern monster turbines launch 80 percent of bird and bat carcasses much further, wildlife expert Jim Wiegand has demonstrated how regions explored under wind turbines are still constrained to 200-foot radiuses. Windfarm operators, following voluntary (!) USFWS standards, commission studies that explore far too narrow regions, examine just once every 30-90 days, assuring that scavengers destroy most carcasses, and ignore wounded birds located within search perimeters.
These research techniques are designed to ensure exceptionally low mortality rates, concealing the true death tolls and the USFWS is willing to maintain the lie. Furthermore, data on bird fatality is now considered the property of wind farm owners, implying that the public has no right to know. Regardless, reports have surfaced that eagles are being hacked to death across the United States. Raptors are drawn to wind turbines, so this isn’t surprising. They rest or scan for prey when perched atop them. They come because wind turbines are frequently erected in environments with plenty of food (live or carrion) and strong gliding winds.
Save the Eagles International (STEI) has released images of raptors sitting on nacelles or stationary blades, as well as ospreys establishing a nest on a decommissioned turbine. A turkey vulture perched on the hub of a spinning turbine and a griffon vulture being injured in films prove that moving blades do not deter them. Birds mistake areas traveled by spinning blades for wide space, oblivious to the fact that blade tips can travel at speeds of up to 180 mph. Many people are preoccupied with catching prey. Wind turbines are “ecological death traps” because of these reasons, regardless of where they are positioned.
The United States intends to generate 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030. That’s approximately six times as much as today, from three or four times as many turbines, which, due to their larger size, strike more flying species (even the mendacious study predicting 1.4 million bird kills recognizes this). By 2030, our wind turbines would be killing over 3 million birds and 5 million bats annually, according to the higher but still underestimated estimates of death released by Smallwood in 2013.
However, this is a factor of ten off from reality, because 90% of casualties occur beyond the search zone and are not counted. As a result, we’re talking about an unsustainable death toll of 30 million birds and 50 million bats every year and even more if we factor in other STEI-documented hide-the-mortality schemes. Eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, condors, whooping cranes, geese, bats, and other protected species are among those killed by cars and cats. Rodent numbers will skyrocket as a result of the raptor slaughter. Agriculture and forestry will be hurt hard by the slaughter of bats, who are already being destroyed by White Nose Syndrome.
According to the US Geological Survey, the value of pest-control services offered by bats to US agriculture ranges from $3.7 billion to $53 billion per year. These chiroptera also function as pollinators and fight forest pests. Insects that swarm around wind turbines attract them from as far as nine miles away, according to a Swedish research. As a result, the bloodbath. Wind industry lobbyists argue that they require “regulatory clarity.” Eagle “take” permits, on the other hand, will almost certainly result in extinction as well as ecological, agricultural, economic, social, and health crises that we cannot afford.
Note 2: All comments were deleted as well. In the comment section below, we explain why.
Is it true that wind turbines are noisy?
Wind turbines are no exception to the rule that everything with moving parts makes noise. Wind turbines, on the other hand, are normally quiet in operation, especially when compared to the noise produced by road traffic, trains, airplanes, and building activities, to name a few.
Is it true that wind turbines are harmful to the environment?
Wind energy, like all energy sources, has the potential to harm the environment by reducing, fragmenting, or degrading habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Additionally, rotating turbine blades might endanger flying fauna such as birds and bats. Because of the potential for wind power to have a negative impact on wildlife, and because these difficulties could delay or prevent wind development in high-quality wind resource areas, impact reduction, siting, and permitting issues are among the wind industry’s top goals.
WETO supports in projects that strive to describe and understand the impact of wind on wildlife on land and offshore to address these concerns and encourage environmentally sustainable growth of wind power in the United States. Furthermore, through centralized information hubs like Tethys, WETO engages in operations to collect and disseminate scientifically rigorous peer-reviewed studies on environmental consequences. The office also invests in scientific research that allows for the development of cost-effective technology to reduce wildlife impacts at both onshore and offshore wind farms.
WETO strives to foster interagency collaboration on wind energy impacts and siting research in order to ensure that taxpayer monies are used wisely to solve environmental challenges associated with wind deployment in the United States.
- For more than 24 years, the office has supported peer-reviewed research, in part through collaborative relationships with the wind industry and environmental groups including the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.
- The NWCC was established in 1994 by the DOE’s wind office in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to investigate a wide range of issues related to wind energy development, such as transmission, power markets, and wildlife impacts. The NWCC’s focus has evolved over the last decade to addressing and disseminating high-quality information about environmental impacts and remedies.
- In May 2009, the Department of Energy’s wind office announced approximately $2 million in environmental research awards aimed at decreasing the hazards of wind power development to vital species and habitats. Researchers from Kansas State University and the NWCC’s Grassland Community Collaborative published a paper in 2013 that revealed wind development in Kansas had no significant impact on the population and reproduction of larger prairie chickens.
- The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative has been involved in numerous research projects funded by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory since its inception in 2003, including studies evaluating the impact of changing the cut-in-speed of wind turbines (the minimum wind speed at which wind turbines begin producing power) and the use of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents to reduce bat impacts at wind turbines.
- Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts.
- Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts. The Status and Findings of Developing Technologies for Bat Detection and Deterrence at Wind Facilities webinars hosted by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative provide project updates and testing findings as of March 2018.
- WETO chose six teams in 2016 to work on improving solutions that will safeguard eagles that share airspace with wind turbines. For breakthrough, vital eagle-impact minimization technology research and development projects, more nearly $3 million was allocated across the six teams. The research financed by this grant will equip wind farm owners and operators with practical and cost-effective strategies for reducing potential eagle impacts. This important study expands on the Energy Department’s efforts to facilitate wind energy deployment while also ensuring animal coexistence by addressing siting and environmental concerns. If the study is successful, it will safeguard wildlife while also giving new tools for the wind industry to reduce regulatory and financial concerns.
- WETO is a supporter of research on biological interactions with offshore wind turbines. With this funding, researchers are gathering crucial data on marine life, offshore bird and bat behavior, and other factors that influence the deployment of offshore wind turbines in the United States. The Biodiversity Research Institute and a diverse group of collaborators, for example, completed the largest ecological study ever conducted in the Mid-Atlantic to produce a detailed picture of the environment in Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas, which will aid permitting and environmental compliance for offshore wind projects.
WETO also collaborates with other federal agencies to create recommendations to help developers comply with statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements for wildlife protection, national security, and public safety. The Wind Energy Technologies Office, for example, collaborated with the Department of the Interior on the Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance.
What would happen if there was no wind?
This is why air currents in the Northern Hemisphere bend to the right whereas in the Southern Hemisphere they bend to the left.
Wind brings warm weather from the Equator to the North and South Poles due to the Coriolis effect. And this is critical, because without temperature dispersion, we’d be in serious trouble.
The earth would become a country of extremes if there was no gentle wind or tremendous gale to circulate both warm and cold weather around it. The poles would freeze solid while areas surrounding the Equator would become extremely hot. Entire ecosystems would be altered, and some would vanish entirely.
What is the most crucial reason for wind’s emergence?
Wind is caused by pressure variations in the atmosphere. When there is a difference in atmospheric pressure, air travels from the higher to the lower pressure location, resulting in varying speeds of wind.
When there is no wind, how do windmills function?
It works by pointing a device into the wind (typically two or three blades) and allowing the wind’s energy to spin the blades. The rotor to which the blades are linked spins gears that are connected to an electrical generator while the blades spin. From the slow-moving blades to the fast-moving generator engine, the gears increase the spin rate. The electricity is sent down the tower to be used by the generator.
My post, How Do Wind Turbines Work, explains everything and includes an infographic to assist visualize the process.
Because the blades must always face the wind, large-scale wind turbines have wind sensing devices and computers that turn the turbine to face the wind.
Please see my factual post on How Does a Wind Turbine Generate Electricity for more information on how a wind turbine works.