Wind Energy Comparison

In this blog I am going to address the topic of wind energy in the United States. 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 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 funding 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 Texas should not spend the same, proportional to state size, because of their natural ecological differences. Rather they should make their budget based on the wind capacities. 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.

The 2013 map below will demonstrate the natural, and unequal, wind capacities between the states.

installed_capacity_2013

 

In order to back up my assertions, I need to gather 3 pieces of data about wind power capacity. According to the AWEA, Texas has a wind capacity of 17,713 MW and Pennsylvania has a capacity of 1,340 MW. Another piece of information that is need, to make comparisons between the states, is their approximate spending (or investment) in wind energy. The AWEA reports that Texas invests 26.3 billion dollars and Pennsylvania spends 2.7 billion dollars  in wind energy. An interesting fact is that Texas has the highest wind capacity in the country, whereas Pennsylvania has the 16th highest wind capacity.   The third piece of data that I needed to find was the amount of land in each state (these figures exclude any mileage that is covered in water).  According to a state ranking, Texas has 261,914 land miles and Pennsylvania has 44,820 land miles.

For the purposes of my calculations, I am going to be assuming that the wind turbines are distributed equally among the area. To demonstrate the size comparison between Texas and Pennsylvania, I use the data about their respective areas (unit = land miles). Texas has 5.84 times the amount of land miles (compared to Pennsylvania).

\[261,914\text{ LM}\div44,820\text{ LM}\approx{6}\]

For the next calculation, I am taking PA’s budget and multiplying it by the comparative size to extrapolate Texas’s hypothetical budget (if the budget was proportional to area). In actuality, Texas’s investment in wind energy is close to twice that amount.

\[6\text{ times larger}\times2.7\text{ billion dollars}\approx16\text{ billion dollars}\]

The next two calculations are extrapolating what Texas’s budget would look like if it was based on wind capacity. Using the Installed Wind Capacities, I found the comparative difference between TX and PA in regards to their MW produced. Texas has a wind capacity 13 times greater than Pennsylvania

\[17,713\text{ MW}\div1,340\text{ MW}\approx{13}\]

If the federal or state governments based the spending on the wind capacities the the budget for Texas would be 35. 69 billion dollars. That figure is almost 10 billion dollars over their current spending.

\[13\text{ times larger}\times2.7\text{ billion dollars}\approx35\text{ billion dollars}\]

Adding up all of the turbines in the wind farms in Pennsylvania, we have approximately 702 wind turbines in the state. In the same list for Texas, they have approximately 10,403 wind turbines. 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 should allocate more money to Texas (and other windier states) and less to states with low wind capacities. We, as a nation, need to capitalize on reusable resources.

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