The Benefits of Wind Power Generation and Green Energy
Electricity use is an integral need of today’s human society. And the dependence on electricity deepens with each waking day. Therefore, a growing concern is whether the current range of energy sources can sustain our electricity requirements into the future.
In many countries, the bulk of electric energy comes from burning fossil resources like oil, coal, or natural gas. Fossil fuels are finite, non-renewable natural resources. In the future, they’ll be extracted to completion.
An alternative to non-renewable fossil fuels is renewable energy sources (RES), like wind power generation.
Most people believe that expanding the use of renewable energy sources will ensure continued economic growth into the future. Moreover, we appreciate their positive impact on the environment and climate.
How then can we use RES to deliver clean energy reliably and economically in our communities and homes?
Renewable Energy: What Is It?
Renewable energy sources are sources that don’t get depleted over time. So, there’s zero possibility of these sources running out of energy. As such, RES are often referred to as sustainable energy sources.
The most widely used renewable energy sources are wind and hydropower. Other sources include:
- Solar power, including photovoltaic and solar thermal
- Wave and tidal power
Why We Need Renewable Energy Today
The world’s energy demand is expected to double by 2050 to meet the needs of a growing global population. Responding to this rising energy demand calls for the development and installation of new energy production systems.
Currently, electricity production is responsible for 25% of GHG (anthropogenic greenhouse gas) emissions. This is because most of the world’s electricity is produced from hydrocarbon sources, particularly fossil fuels.
Besides global warming, emissions from these sources have been demonstrated to cause problems to human health and welfare.
Over reliance on fossil fuels is also postulated to precipitate critical energy issues because they are finite, non-renewables that will, one day, be depleted completely.
This challenge nonetheless creates the perfect opportunity to design wind power generation systems that never run out. These systems minimize adverse impacts on human health, the environment, and climate, in addition to reducing pressure on natural resources.
Such are the systems that we generally refer to as green energy sources.
The international community today agrees that green energy is a cornerstone for human prosperity without sacrificing the earth’s climate/environment.
Meeting Our Energy Needs Without Compromising Future Generations’ Ability to Meet Theirs
Green energy is produced from innovative environment-friendly sources which have little or no adverse effects on the planet.
The goals of green energy are:
- To meet our energy demands without depleting or damaging natural resources
- To diminish waste emissions and pollution during energy production
- To develop the lives of ordinary citizens and spur economic growth
Green energy is usually produced from renewable sources. It offers sustainability with no or minimal negative societal, environmental, and economic impacts. Hence, it is often referred to as clean energy.
How Green Energy Transformed Life on the Isle of Gigha
In addition to energy security, green energy can be a catalyst for sustainable development. It’s also a terrific driver of social and technological innovations.
The wind power project on the charming Isle of Gigha is clear proof of the positive impacts of green energy on social growth and economic development.
The Isle of Gigha is a 7-mile-long island tucked away in the far southwest corner of Scotland. Over a decade ago, this island was owned by a series of wealthy landowners. However, things were not looking good for the residents who actually lived on the island.
By 2002, Isle of Gigha was a small village whose outlook was quite bleak. The last shop on the island was set to close, the local school dwindled to just one teacher, and everything else had fallen into a serious decline.
Local residents decided they’d turn things around. First, they bought off the island and handed it over it the IGHT (Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust) in March 2002.
Next, the community began looking for a reliable, lasting source of income. Thus, the wind farm di Gigha Green Power was born. This community-owned company bought 3 secondhand Vesta V7 wind turbines, “The Dancing Ladies.”
The energy generated from the 3 turbines gave the local residents the electricity to run their homes. In addition, excess power was produced and transmitted by cable to be sold to the mainland’s electricity grid.
In 2011, the community bought a new Enercon E33 turbine. Later, they added an innovative storage battery to their wind power generation system.
In addition to giving the community control over their electricity sources, the wind farm has been a remarkable financial success for the Isle of Gigha. In 2019, for instance, the project doled out $227,000 of its profits to the community through an established community fund.
The community of Isle of Gigha is now fiscally secure thanks to wind energy income. They are able to pay for everything from affordable housing to university fees and music lessons.
During the 2020’s Covid-19 outbreak, the company continually provided an array of resources, including hand sanitizers, masks, and paying private therapy to help locals cope with the pandemic.
Clean energy from wind power has created an income stream for the islanders. The income is used for other varied projects on the island.
Furthermore, it has brought together the community. For example, they have a blade-washing weekend where they come together to clean down the turbine blades using water and sponges.
Wind energy has made a remarkable difference for the small community of Gigha. And it has done so while protecting one of Gigha’s greatest assets - the environment.
Advantages of Green Energy
Like the Gigha wind power generation project, people worldwide have witnessed the real benefits that green energy provides. In a nutshell, using green energy:
- Gives users full access to affordable, cost-effective electricity
- Generally, it causes minimal damage to the environment. There are no or limited carbon/greenhouse emissions. Thus, green energy effectively prevents climate change, global warming, acid rains, and the degradation of air quality.
- Provides a never-ending source of energy that cannot be depleted if used carefully and appropriately
- Gives people control over their energy supply, even when installed on a small scale
- Installing and maintaining green energy leads to job creation
- By causing little or no environmental pollution, green energy boosts human health.
Green energy is a long-term money-saving option. Since the operational and maintenance costs are small and you don’t need to refuel renewable energy sources, transitioning to green energy allows a household to save hundreds to thousands of dollars every month.
Small Scale Green Energy Generation
Another island in the UK is a brilliant success story about small-scale green energy production. The Uig on the Island of Lewis is one of the UK's most remote communities.
In 2003, Uig Development Trust was formed to help the community acquire a local shop that had been put up for sale. After buying the shop, the trust made a number of improvements. By 2009, profits from the shop had doubled. The shop was also one of the largest employers in its region.
By 2011, the shop premises had expanded to include more shop space, a café, launderette, and storage. Consequently, energy consumption was high. Since the trust wished to be as energy-efficient as possible, they began looking into green energy options.
The two Evance 5KW turbines were purchased, installed, and commissioned in 2011. Each year they produce about 28,000kWh and earn the shop around £8,000 ($10,850) from the Feed-in Tariff. On top of that, they save around 12 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Benefits Of Using Wind Power at Home
So far, we’ve seen how two communities took advantage of wind energy to generate sustainable income while improving their lives and environment. Conversely, all of the tangible and intangible benefits that these communities receive from wind energy can be achieved on a household level.
Small wind turbines, for instance, allow you to produce clean energy right there in your home. Most of these turbines have an average life of 20-25 years.
Thus, they are an efficient piece of equipment that:
- Saves you money,
- Reduces carbon emissions, and
- Keep the environment clean for over 2 decades
Wind As a Domestic Source of Energy
Wind can be harnessed at home to generate electricity.
Wind turbines in residential applications are usually small ranging from 400 watts to 20 kilowatts. A typical household uses approximately 877 kWh every month.
Therefore, depending on the wind resource in your area, a turbine rated 5-15 kilowatts can sufficiently meet the energy demands of most homes. Nevertheless, a 1.5-kilowatt turbine can still supply a home that needs 300 kWh every month if located in an area where the annual average wind speed is 14 mph (6.26 meters per second)
A professional wind turbine installer needs to help determine the best wind turbine for your home’s electricity needs. The professional may also help make your home more energy-efficient. Energy efficiency will reduce your monthly electricity requirements.
Types Of Wind Power for Home Systems
Your home’s wind energy system can be connected to your area’s electricity distribution systems. Grid-connected wind systems are designed to reduce your home’s consumption of utility-supplied electricity.
When the wind turbine can’t fulfill your home’s electricity demands, the grid makes up the difference.
When more electricity is produced than your home needs, the excess is diverted to the grid, credited, and used to offset your bill for using utility-supplied power.
Most grid-connected turbines only operate when grid power is available. However, some can be configured to operate during outages by working in tandem with an energy storage module in a way that creates a microgrid.
Isolated, Off-Grid Systems
Also known as microgrid systems, these systems are not connected to the electricity distribution grid in your area.
Off-grid systems are sometimes used in combination with other green energy systems such as solar electric systems. The hybrid power system provides reliable power for homes, communities, and farms far from electric utility lines.
Essential Considerations When Installing a Home Wind Turbine
Installing a wind turbine at home is indeed a good idea. However, an energy plan designed by a professional will guide you to install your wind turbine safely and efficiently. The energy plan will consider:
- Your wind resources
- Viability of the project
- System configurations
- Property and location
The terrain in which you live will be significant when installing a wind turbine.
The best locations are on top of, on the windy side of hills or tall structures.
It’s best to have your wind turbine stand over 30 feet above anything within a 300-feet radius.
Before installing, measure and find out annual wind speeds, prevailing directions of wind, as well as essential geological info including existing and future obstacles.
Viability Of the Project
Wind power generation systems aren’t always economically viable.
It’s wise to evaluate the overall cost of installations, the anticipated output, your savings, and the return on your wind energy investment.
Be sure to use wind turbines that certify national safety and performance standards.
Decide whether you want to install a grid-connected or off-grid system.
The wiring should be configured so as to minimize resistance and installation costs.
Property and Location
You'll need the correct information about local rules and regulations governing the installation of wind energy systems in your area.
Get all the relevant permits.
Your neighbors might also have concerns about the aesthetics and resultant noise levels produced by your wind power system.
What is the cost of wind turbine installation?
The cost depends on many things, chief among them the size, site, and output of your wind turbine.
Generally, a small turbine may cost as low as $2,000. Large setups, however, cost more. A 5kW pole-mounted system may require anywhere between $31,200 and $46,100.
Is wind power cost-effective?
In a sense, wind is a free source of energy. The only costs you incur are for installation and periodic maintenance.
After the turbines have been set up, you won’t have to pay for the wind-generated electricity. So, in the long run, wind energy is indeed very cost-effective.
Essentially a well situated 5kW turbine could theoretically save you $460 annually on your electricity bills.
Can a wind turbine produce electricity without wind?
If there’s no wind or the wind speeds are low, the turbine blades stop spinning, and no electricity will be produced.
Most homes overcome this challenge by combining their wind power setups with a storage system.
You now have a good understanding of how wind power generation systems can work, and why green energy holds such great potential. Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts!
I’m Martin Hurley - the friendliest and most helpful person in the wind generator field! (That’s me on an ‘early’ electric bike, way back in 2010). I write posts and reviews about wind power, green energy, wind turbine kits, wind energy tools, tech and more. Depending where you live, one day I’m sure there’ll be wind generators built into our homes, our vehicles and on every street corner - and they’ll be fantastically efficient!