Assignment 2: Wind Energy

Energy is constantly flowing and being “consumed” by citizens in order to power their day to day life. Coal and fossil fuels have documented negative environmental impacts so it is important that we reduce our dependence on them. A potential remedy, or at the very least aide, to the power problem is to use more renewable energies such as into wind power. I was inspired to look into this topic because during my time studying in France I saw wind turbines everywhere and I think they are a great way to benefit from a natural energy flow (wind currents). An interesting debate within the ecological community is whether each state should spend the same amount of money to fund wind energy. I theorize that it is impractical to expect that because wind currents vary greatly between the states. When I say “funding wind energy” I am referring to funding the creation of more wind turbines. I am going to prove that Pennsylvania and Montana should not spend the same, proportional to state size, because of their natural ecological differences. My audience is regular citizens of the United States and alternative energy advocates. I believe that average citizens need to be more well informed about alternative energy because we need to lessen our dependence on coal and information is power. Also, energy advocates can use this information to strengthen their argument for less harmful energy sources.

My first source is http://www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5059. From here, I can gather a lot of the raw numbers that I will need to make computations. There is information about wind capacities, number of utility scale wind turbines in the US, and even data about homes that are currently powered by wind. It is a credible source because it is published by the America Wind Energy Association. It is a large organization with a history of scientific and impartial information. Montana has a wind capacity of 654 Mega Watts. Pennsylvania has a wind power capacity of 1,34o Mega Watts. There are over 48,000 wind turbines in the United States right now and only 39 states have them. They are not distributed equally among the states. Also, the graphic I want to use: 

installed_capacity_current_820w

My second source is http://www.aweo.org/problemwithwind.html. This source is interesting because it provides information that is against wind turbines. It discusses the impact on wildlife, property values, taxes, and noise. In order to be informed about a subject you have to look at both its pros and it’s cons. This is a credible source because it was published by the Alternative World Energy Outlook and the website had several articles with opposing viewpoints so the organization itself is not biased. A portion of the article is skepticism that we are tapping into a reliable resource. I believe that if we properly place the turbines, these concerns should be alleviated. “If the wind resource is well matched to peak loads, wind energy can effectively contribute to system capacity.” That’s a big if — counting on the wind to blow exactly when demand rises — especially if you expect the wind to cover 20% (or even 5%) of that demand.” A possible side effect to installing the turbines is drilling into the bedrock which has the potential to contaminate the water.

My third source is http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/wind_installed_capacity.asp. This source has more detailed information about wind capacity by state. I am looking into where the USA should set up new turbines and seeing the optimal places would be helpful. This site details each state in the USA from 1999 to 2015. This is a credible source because it is the US Department of Energy and they have the most data on this topic. At this point there is a large portion on the south eastern United States that remains undocumented. This source shows that the central US has the highest and more concentrated wind capacity. 

The Math:

Wind Capacity A / State Size A

Wind Capacity B / State Size B

Wind Capacity A/ Number of Turbines Currently in state A

Wind Capacity B / Number of Turbines Currently in state B

Electrical Need of the State / Electricity generated by Wind Power (for both A and B)

Looking at the information in my sources and the estimated calculations that I have run, I still support the implementation of more wind turbines in the US. I believe that the federal government needs to spend more money creating more wind turbines, and more efficient wind turbines. However, it is not a worthwhile endeavor to ensure that the money is allocated equally between all of the states. To state is plainly, some places are windier than others. There is a natural current to the wind and it is frankly a waste to put wind turbines in places where they will not be used efficiently. We, as a nation, need to capitalize on reusable resources.

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