Wind power refers to the energy produced by converting wind energy into a more helpful type of energy such as electricity. It is among the renewable energy sourcesthat have been identified across many countries as important alternative source of energy. Fossil fuels, comprising of oil, natural gas, and coal, have been the major source of energy used worldwide to run our industries, vehicles, and operate electric appliances at home and in the office.Â They are formed due to anaerobic decomposition of dead organic matter. They are non-renewable energy sources since it takes a very long time to make these fuels and their natural reserves are being exhausted quickly due to high-energy demands. They contain huge amounts of carbon, with the combustion of these fuels to produce energy producing large amounts of greenhouse gases that adversely affects the environment. For instance, the amount of carbon dioxide gas produce through the combustion of fossil fuels is approximately 21.3 billion tonnes annually.
Greenhouse gases have largely contributed to global warming, resulting in negative climatic changes that cause ill health and destroy natural habitats. The huge dependence on these fuels as the major energy source has necessitated the shift to renewable energy sources due to these negative effects. Wind power is among the clean energy sources that are known not to negatively affect the environment. It is natural, renewable, abundant, and does not produce greenhouse gases. It accounts for 0.3% of the total renewable energy used in the United States (Gagliano, et. al., 2005). It is generated mainly through onshore wind farms that comprise of many wind turbines erected over a large are of land. These turbines are then linked to a power collection system, which then transmits electric power to a substation. There are also a few being wind farms built offshore to use the strong winds available at sea (Snyder & Kaiser, 2009). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
The economic costs of wind power. Huge costs are involved in the setting up of wind farms, making the capital costs of wind power to get high. The major elements of energy costs are the construction and generation costs. Energy production plants are usually expensive to build and are mainly carried out by governments and large organizations. The normal unit cost used to determine the cost of a developing wind power includes construction costs involved in building the turbines, substations, and transmission facilities, and the estimated annual production. It also includes the cost of the borrowed funds and expected returns to investors. All these costs are then averaged over the expected lifetime of these facilities. The cost per kilowatt-hour for producing wind power was 5 – 6 cents in the United States in 2011, with most of the new wind power projects were financed mainly via debt arrangements (Shahan, 2011). Improved technology has resulted in better turbine technology and performance that has greatly reduced the cost of producing wind power. Â Â
Benefits of wind power. Wind power is natural, renewable, abundant, and does not produce greenhouse gases, making it a clean energy source that does not affect the environment negatively. The construction of these wind farms has resulted in the creation of numerous jobs in areas that these farms are located. It has helped to grow rural economies, which were not covered by the normal electricity grid as they now have their own sources of power. Wind power receives fewer subsidies as compared to other energy sources, saving taxpayers money (Snyder & Kaiser, 2009). Large tracks of unused land are now being used for power generation, with landowners gaining income from lease agreements. In addition, other activities such as farming can also be carried out on land where wind farms have been constructed.