November 1


Wind Energy FAQs


November 1, 2020

If you are looking to learn more about wind energy in the US, read below for the most common wind energy FAQs.

How Big Is the Wind Industry?

The GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council) collects data globally each year to create a Global Wind Report. In 2019, it was found that 60.4 Gigawatts of new wind-powered energy was fitted globally, a huge 19% growth from the previous year. The total capacity for wind energy across the globe is now over 651 Gigawatts, with the US remaining one of the largest onshore wind markets. For more information, and to view the 2019 report, click here.

Is Wind Energy Worth it?

Not only is wind energy worth it, it’s also one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity. As wind is infinite, unlike most fossil fuels and other natural resources, wind energy is being used by more and more countries as an alternative. Wind energy doesn’t produce any nasty gases or emissions and once installed uses nothing but the power of wind to create sustainable, green energy for all. Whilst installation may be costly, companies and homes are likely to get a return on their investment anywhere between 6-30 years. As climate change continues to be a problem, wind energy will need to be utilized more.

How Much Electricity Can Be Provided Through Wind Power?

A small wind turbine in an area with winds over 12mph can often power a whole home each year. It is estimated by the Department of Energy that around 20% of all electricity currently used in the US could be provided solely through wind power, according to the 20% Wind Energy Scheme hoping to be implemented by 2030.

What Percentage of Energy is Created Via Wind Power?

In the US in 2019, about 7.3% of all electricity was created via wind power, almost doubling from 4% back in 2013. 

How Does Wind Create Electricity Through a Turbine?

Wind power is a relatively easy concept to grasp. As the wind blows, the wind turbine blades begin to turn. The rotor then captures this moving (kinetic) energy and can convert this into a rotating motion that will drive a generator. In short, wind provides kinetic energy which can be converted with the help of a generator into renewable, green energy that can power homes and businesses.

When Was Wind Power First Used?

When you think back to the days before electricity, you can begin to see how humans were already harnessing the power of wind to help them. Wind propelled boats into the sea and farmers across the US and beyond used wind to pump water. The first wind turbines were created and used in the US in the 1920’s, before larger and more powerful machines were created around 1940.

When Were Wind Turbines First Connected to The Grid?

When the grid as we know it became active in many areas, windmills were long forgotten as coal-fired energy was a much cheaper alternative. Throughout the 1970’s the energy crisis arose, forcing governments to re-harness the power of wind. The Department of Energy played a key part in this, researching effective turbine methods and designs, creating some of the wind turbines that you see out there today.

Did Climate Change Impact Decisions?

In 1992, the Energy Policy Act was created which includes using wind power as an alternative source of energy. Concerns about global warming were rising and US Congress decided to take action. Nowadays, we know more than ever about our effect on the environment and how we can shape the future with renewable energy.

When Did the New Age of Wind Energy Start?

Wind energy as we know it today is a lot different to how it used to be. The modern day wind energy era began in the US in the 1980’s. As fossil fuel costs and environmental concerns continued to rise, the state of California provided plenty of tax incentives in order to encourage businesses to install wind powered turbines. Around 15,000 turbines were produced, with enough electrical power to power San Francisco. Unfortunately, these tax credits came to an end and wind power continued to grow, but at a much slower rate. This was also due to the fact fossil fuel prices dipped again during the mid-1980’s.

What’s A Wind Farm?

Wind farms are big collections of large-scale wind turbines that are compiled together, usually in an open space such as a field or in the sea. To meet the ever increasing needs of energy suppliers, wind farms are created to supply more power.

How Are Commercial Wind Farms Built?

Commercial wind farms are often built by private companies. Before installation begins, several things need to be done to test an area in its practicality for a wind farm. There needs to be enough wind, enough space for turbines, generators and power lines, and they also must consider any community or environmental impacts that building a wind farm in an area could cause. Necessary permits must be obtained via the government. This power is then sold to power companies and some utility companies may own their own wind farm.

What Are the Wind Resources Like in My State?

You can find wind resource maps on the Department of Energy’s website, which will provide an up-to-date wind energy average. Be aware this is for a 50-meter tall tower across every state. While these maps can help to see the wind resource in your area, it may vary due to environmental factors such as buildings, trees or hills. If you are thinking of getting a wind turbine installed in your home or local business, you should seek a professional evaluation of your area before purchasing a system.

Do Wind Power Projects Create New Jobs in the US?

Of course! As wind energy development increases on a large-scale across the US, thousands of jobs are created. Wind power workers are needed for many jobs including construction, installation, manufacturing, legal, marketing, and many more. As of 2018, the US wind industry employed over 100,000 workers.

How Do I Find a Job in Wind Power?

As the Department of Energy creates most job opportunities and continues to push for more wind energy, their website is a good place to look for jobs in the wind power industry, as well as jobs in other renewable energies. Careers in Wind is another website for those in the US looking to get work in this industry.

How is Wind Power Being Used Across the Globe?

Whilst the US has their own wind power schemes in place, other countries are doing all they can to harness the power of the wind. In terms of percentage, wind power continues to be an ever-growing source of renewable energy. Europe is one of the top wind power energy supporters and is attempting to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the air through the use of wind power. Countries such as India are looking to reduce their import rates of fuel and are also looking at using wind power as an alternative. The GWEC website has more information on what each country is doing to support wind energy.

How Loud Are Wind Turbines?

While wind turbines used to be noisy, more efficient turbine designs have been created which reduces the sound of the mechanics. Soundproofing is now used in most designs, meaning the mechanical sound is almost nonexistent. Other ways wind turbines can create noise is through internal equipment and movement. The loudness of the turbine can depend on many external factors, such as the distance from the turbines, wind and other noises in the area. For more information on sound visit the Wind Energy Association website. 

Are Wind Turbines Dangerous to Animals?

Unfortunately, as wind turbines are in the air, there is always the chance of a flying animal such as a bat or bird colliding with these turbines, yet the same can be said for airplanes. Wind farm projects have been known to impact wildlife which is why more extensive planning and permits are required. Over the last 20 years, the impact on wildlife has significantly reduced, through wind turbine design, placement and noise. Wind industry experts don’t take harming wildlife lightly and work with many leading environmental agencies to reduce any impacts they can on animals. For more information visit the American Wind Wildlife Institute.

Will a Wind Turbine Create Shadow Flicker in My Building?

A wind turbine creates a shadow due to the movement of the blades while the sun is behind the turbine, known as a shadow flicker. When developing wind turbines and looking at shadow flicker, computer programs are used to determine the times and days over the year that any homes or buildings may be affected by shadow flicker. Measures can then be put into place to prevent this from happening, such as moving location or building a vegetative buffer around the affected area. The US is not often affected with shadow flicker due to higher angles of the sun and lower latitudes. Europe is more commonly affected with this issue.

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