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Wind is available everywhere, and is plentiful.1
Wind produces no thermal discharge and therefore places no thermal burden on the earth's atmosphere.2
The technology for harnessing the wind's energy is well-developed. Wind turbines are ready to be mass produced.3
Given the amount of energy wind machines capture, both the material and energy requirements for their manufacture are impressively low. If well-designed wind machines are placed at good wind sites, electricity can be generated for as little as 10 cents per kilowatt hour.4
Most wind power locations produce relatively small power outputs.5
Variations in power plant output due to the flux in duration and intensity of wind necessitates power storage facilities.6
Wind must move at speeds greater than seven m.p.h. to be usable in most cases.7
The rotation of windmill blades can interfere with home TV reception and other electromagnetic signals.8
Capital costs for wind power production are high.9
Mechanical failures of wind turbines could be dangerous.10
Possible damage to the environment from wind power includes tree removal, hill alteration to promote winds, and hazards to birds.11
Among the solar-related electricity generating options, wind power technology is the closest to being ready for widespread commercial use.12 However, wind turbines are an intermittent energy source; the application of wind technology is extremely site sensitive and is restricted to areas where there are good wind resources.13
Like most other renewables, wind energy delivers high-grade mechanical power which can be efficiently converted directly into electricity, and can be employed on a small-scale in areas where energy demand is low.14
Wind generators can be built in one to three years, a significant advantage relative to the time it takes to start up conventional power stations.15 At high-wind-potential sites, production costs have fallen from $.30 kWh in 1980 to $.10-$.15 kWh. Current systems have annual capacity factors of 20 to 40 percent peak wind-to-electricity efficiency.16
A wind generator's computer-designed metal rotors can cause magnetic wave interference up to two miles from the turbine's location, and the turbines emit a thumping sensation that can be heard for several miles. However, because these problems are associated with large-scale wind power projects, which are not suitable for densely populated areas, they should not prevent wind power's future development.17
By the end of 1986, installed wind-driven generators produced 1,400 MW of electricity in the U.S., and that figure could increase tenfold by 1995.18 In 1982 over 100 U.S. utilities were involved in wind-power research projects.19 Current wind-power research is aimed at design and efficiency improvements, and predicting wind resources with greater accuracy.20
1 Gabel, op. cit., p. 128.
2 Ibid., p. 130.
4 Deudney and Flavin, p. 207.
12 Peirce, op. cit., p. 263.
13 Edison Electric Institute, "Alternative Energy Sources and Technologies," op. cit., p. 25.
14 John W. Twidell and Anthony D. Weir, Renewable Energy Resources, (New York: E. & F.N. Spon Ltd., 1986), pp. 242-244.
15 Peirce, op. cit., p. 263.
16 Energy Security, op. cit., p. 205.
17 Peirce, op. cit., p. 263.
18 Energy Security, op. cit., p. 205.
19 Edison Electric Institute, "Alternative Energy Sources and Technologies," op. cit., p. 25.
20 Energy Security, op. cit., p. 205.