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Wind power is becoming an increasingly popular energy source as it produces no greenhouse emissions.
What is Wind Power?
As the sun helps generate the wind, wind power is classed as an offshoot of solar power. It is produced by windmill-like structures that use wind to drive the rotors, which generate energy that is converted to electricity.
The United States largely pioneered the use of wind farms, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Between 2000 and 2006, the global use of wind power quadrupled. Europe now leads the charge, accounting for 48% of the world’s wind power in 2009. Australia currently has around 52 wind farms nationwide, which can produce enough electricity to power more than 700,000 homes.
Wind Power & Windmill Technology
Wind power is based on windmill technology that has been used to pump water since 200BC. Wind power turbines comprise of three-blade rotors attached to a tower, around 20 metres high. The towers need to be tall as wind is more powerful at greater heights. The kinetic energy generated by the rotation of the turbine blades is harnessed and converted to clean and economical electricity that can power homes and businesses.
Just like conventional power stations, wind farms produce electricity in bulk, which is then channeled into the utility grid for consumers to use.
While larger wind farms across the globe supply power for national electricity grids, in recent times smaller – and quieter – turbines have been developed to supply power to individual homes. However, due to their immense size turbines are not as widely used in urban areas as in more remote locations.
Advantages of wind power
Wind power is less expensive than solar power to install and can be relied on more consistently to produce electricity. Although there is an initial outlay for the machinery and installation, over time, the costs of using wind power are far less than using fossil fuel systems.
Wind power’s biggest advantage is that is has zero carbon impact as it uses no chemicals, fossil fuels or nuclear technology. It is also 100% renewable; so as long as there is wind, there will be wind power to harness. In agricultural settings, farming and grazing are not interrupted even if wind turbines are built on the land, and wind turbines can also help in the production of bio-fuels. In 1990, California’s wind power plants offset more than 2.5 billion pounds of carbon emissions – it would take between 90 and 175 million trees to achieve the same result.
Government rebates in the form of Small-scale Technology Certificates are available to help offset the installation cost of wind power turbines and can save you thousands of dollars. Visit the government website Living Greener for more information.
iSelect could help save you money on your electricity rates. Visit iselect.com.au to compare electricity rates and energy sources.