The use of wind energy dates back as early as 500B.C. to help the Persians pump water and grind grain. Around 1000 A.D., Europeans started to use a wind technology to help drain lakes and rivers in marshy lands. Moving forward 850 years, Daniel Halladay of the United States starts the first windmill company. It wasn’t till the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair that wind power was showcased to provided energy for homes and businesses. The largest wind turbine, at the time, was located in Vermont during the 1940’s. The wind turbine is known as Grandpa’s Knob and generated 1.25-megawatts of energy. After the second world war, oil prices were very low which destroyed most interest in renewable energy sources for a few decades. It wasn’t till the oil shortages in the 1970’s that changed the outlook on energy for United States and the rest of the world. Because of these shortages, wind energy was able to re-enter into the energy sector. Wind energy continued to grow and by 1980 the first large wind farm was installed in California and in 2008, 25.4 Gigawatts of wind turbines have been installed in the United States. The capacity of wind power jumped significantly, to 60 Gigawatts, in the United States in 2012. Finally, in 2015, the United States has 66 Gigawatts of wind energy installed and has pledged that the United states will use 20% wind energy by 2030.
Wind power has taken huge steps in the energy sector but there are many ways that the industry can improve. The power produce form wind turbines only supplies roughly five percent of the nations energy demand for only 39 states. On the bright side, the cost of wind technology has decreased by 90% since the 1980’s. There is little to no excuse for the increase of funding and support for the wind energy sector. The picture below shows the potential of wind energy across the United states; blue representing most potential/stability to white/grey for least potential. Based on the figure, there are 700,000 square miles, 1/5 of the land area of the United States, that has the potential to provide adequate wind energy.
The potential for total energy produced has just been taped into. Wind power as a whole can reach to powering 35% of the United States by 2050, and can supply 600,000 jobs in the process.
Now why do people dislike wind turbines and are there any drawbacks for wind energy? One of the top reasons that people dislike turbines is that they do not believe that climate change exists. Another reason why is that wind turbines/wind farms scars the landscape. While i do agree that turbines can obstruct the view, humans have been building and living next to objects that obstruct the view/landscape before turbines were built. Such as oil pump-jacks, power lines, cell phone towers, water towers, buildings, etc. People are also saying wind energy is to expensive to produce. While this was true only a few years ago, wind energy is decreasing in price year after year. Within the next 5 years, wind energy is projected to cost less than oil and coal. People also complain that wind turbines kill to many birds. While turbines do kill birds, buildings and cats alone kill exponentially more birds than turbines. The biggest problem that needs to be solved for wind turbines is to determine how to not kill bats. Bats do not run into turbines but die before they reach the blades. The barometric pressure messes with their bodies which causes them to die. Ultimately people are scared of change and do not have the correct facts about wind energy and turbines.
Overall, the wind sector is heading in the right direction. More and more people are seeing wind energy as a positive alternative to fossil fuel and wind energy is becoming cheaper for the United States citizen. As oil and other fossil fuels increase in price, more resources will be pumped into the wind sector, thus increasing efficiency and total gigawatts produced. Wind power has the potential to provided thousands more jobs than oil, and even more jobs that are tied to the wind energy sector. As more people are educated about the wind sector, they will be willing to accept the increase in turbine construction/installation and will be happy about paying less for their electricity bill.