In August of this year, The Energy Department released two reports showcasing the new – and growing – importance of wind energy to the American energy matrix. According to these reports, in 2012, wind energy represented more than 40 percent of all new electric power generation in the country.
The United States wouldn’t be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets if American investors didn’t recognize the significant advantages of wind energy.
There are many advantages of wind energy, especially when it is compared with conventional energy sources. It is a “green” energy source, meaning that it emits a negligible amount of greenhouse gases. In the United States, the most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions is the power sector. Coal, which produces less than 40 percent of the country’s power, releases a staggering 70 percent of the overall power sector’s emissions.
Wind turbines emit greenhouse gases during their manufacture and installation, but thee emissions are erased by the clean energy these turbines produce, typically “greenhouse gas neutral” after just nine months of operation.
Aside from clean power, there are other significant advantages of wind energy. Wind energy promotes cost-effective energy production. In the early 1980s, it cost almost 40 cents to produce a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity using wind turbines. Today, it costs between 2.5 and 5 cents to produce the same amount of power. That number will continue to decline. Another one of the major advantages of wind energy is that it can revive the economies of rural or island communities. Turbines can function as new sources of property taxes for cash-starved rural governments. In Minnesota, for instance, every 100-megawatt (MW) of wind power development has generated around $1 million per year in property tax revenue and nearly $250,000 per year in direct lease payments to the property owners of the land where the turbines were placed.
Wind energy is also a source of jobs. Wind energy sources create, on average, 30 percent more jobs than coal plants and 60 percent more jobs than nuclear power plants per unit of energy they generate.
Wind energy may be one of the greenest, most environmentally friendly sources of energy at our disposal, but its benefits don’t stop there. There are numerous advantages of wind energy, which explains why it may eventually supply us with more than 20 percent of our total electrical supply.