Is Wind Power Green?

As the U.S. energy industry inches away from reliance on fossil fuels, experts have heralded various greener technologies, none of which match wind power’s clean performance.

Green-Field-with-Wind-TurbineThe future of green energy is written in the wind.

As the U.S. energy industry inches away from reliance on fossil fuels, experts have heralded various greener technologies, such as ethanol, solar and geothermal power, as choice alternatives. And while each of those alternatives holds marked environmental advantages over dirty oil and coal, none match wind power’s squeaky clean performance.

“Based on the review looking at the major energy technologies and environmental impact, wind came out on top,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, an engineer at Stanford University. “But it was pretty close with concentrated solar, geothermal, tidal, wave and hydroelectric sources.”

Last year, Jacobson and a colleague from the University of California, Davis, drafted a global blueprint for converting 100 percent of the world’s energy use to renewable sources. Wind power is leading the charge due to its minimal carbon footprint compared to energy output.

In a nutshell, wind power systems consist of tall, free-standing turbines that convert moving air into usable electricity. As wind pushes the turbine blades around, the spinning motion turns the turbine rotor, which then drives the shaft of an electric generator housed within the turbine. Transmission lines can then deliver the wind-generated electricity from prime wind energy areas, like the Great Plains, to various locations.

In fact, just 15 percent of the land on Earth has enough wind speed capacity to meet global energy needs many times over, Jacobson said.

Consequently, U.S. energy policy calls for 20 percent of the nation’s total energy use to come from wind power by 2030, which is a modest proposal in light of its impressive potential.

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Source: Discovery News
Photo: Thinkstock Images | Getty Images | Discovery News