Wind and Solar Energy

Wind and solar energy are renewable energy sources capable of providing a great percentage (if not all) of our energy needs, if they're supplemented with storage batteries to use the power during those times when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining.

picture of wind generator with solar panel in rural area

Benefits of Using Wind and Solar Energy Together

  • Environmentally friendly energy sources

  • Environmentally sustainable

  • Socially sustainable

  • Together, these energy sources can provide much need power for extremely rural or outlying areas

  • Renewable without the need for fossil fuels

  • Combined together, wind and solar energy can provide modern countries and developing countries with a continuing source of electricity

How Are Wind and Solar Energy Connected?

Wind energy is essentially a result of converted solar energy. In the simplest terms, it occurs something like this: the sun's rays radiate down to the earths' surface.

As it does, the land and water heat up at varying rates during the day and in turn will reflect or absorb the sun's heat at varying rates. We know that hot air rises, right? When the hot air rises, the earth's atmospheric pressure is reduced and cooler air replaces it on the earth"s surface.

What happens next? Wind!

How Is Wind Energy Gathered?

There are two types of wind turbines: an eggbeater style (vertical-axis) and a propeller style (horizontal-axis). When the wind hits the blades of the turbine, they rotate.

As the blades are rotated (turn), the shaft turns the nacelle, (which is what the box located at the top of the turbine is called). The rotation speed of the rotor increases to the point that the generator is then able to convert the wind energy into electrical energy using magnetic fields.

This electrical energy goes into a transformer, which then transmits the converted wind energy to the grid, providing energy for any number of purposes throughout the country.

Benefits and Drawbacks

What are the benefits and drawbacks of wind energy? Wind energy and solar energy both have their advantages and disadvantages, but overall, these renewable energy resources are what could be the answer to powering our world efficiently and for an unlimited amount of time.

Benefits of Wind Energy

  • Clean energy

  • Least expensive of renewable energy sources (low operating costs)

  • Renewable and free

  • Reliable and efficient

  • Benefits local landowners

  • Cannot be affected by political situations

  • Occupy less space than a power station in some cases

  • Excellent energy resource for remote locations

Drawbacks of Wind Energy

  • Noisy - can become a problem for those living close to fields of wind turbines

  • Birds are killed or injured often when flying close to or through the wind turbines

  • No wind, no power generated

  • Wind turbines are visually "polluting" in some people's opinions

  • Multiple wind turbines are needed to provide the amount of energy required

  • The turbines themselves can be cost-prohibitive

  • Turbines often require at least one-acre of land due to size

  • Not permitted in most urban or suburban locations due to zoning regulations

Future of Wind Energy

Currently, the countries leading the trend when it comes to using energy derived from the wind are Germany, Morocco, Argentina, India, Iran, Spain, South Korea, Egypt, Mexico, The Philippines, and the People's Republic of China. The United States has made great strides in the area of wind energy, but is still only utilizing a fraction of what it could be!

It has been surmised that wind energy could very well be the most cost-effective energy source (over fossil fuels) in the near future. It's already one of the fastest growing energy technologies in the world, and if the technology continues to advance, this momentum will only continue forward. Wind energy has great potential for becoming one of the most competitive energy sources when it comes to cost, but policy initiatives and the economy still have the greatest impact on whether or not wind power will truly make it to the forefront over using fossil fuels for energy.

Comparing the cost of wind and solar energy to the cost of energy derived from fossil fuels is difficult because the comparison is more like comparing apples to bananas rather than apples to apples.

However, continued research into how the energy of the wind and the sun can provide power to the masses is being conducted and will hopefully deliver an environmentally friendly solution for energy needs in the very near future.

Renewable energy jobs are one of the fastest growing and highest-paying opportunities in the world today. They are definitely the up and coming wave of opportunity!

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