A wind turbine is a machine that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. This is often referred to as wind power. A wind turbine produces electricity, not to be confused with a windmill, which is used to drive machinery such as for pumping water.
The windmill was designed during the middle ages, and as our engineering skills developed so, too, did the wind turbine. Wind energy is a much cleaner way of producing electricity than coal or nuclear plants. Today's wind turbines are available in many power levels, ranging from 400W to 7MW. Larger wind turbines are used around the world to produce power for commercial electricity, whereas smaller turbines are used on boats or similarly modest applications.
With the increasing demand and the many developed government incentives in various countries, wind power is gaining in popularity. Despite the many alternatives, wind energy has become much cheaper and safer to produce than other sources, for example nuclear. Wind power also provides economic advantages from many perspectives, such as:
Wind energy is the way of the future, and a cleaner one at that. Still, many people have concerns about how wind turbines affect their health and that of wildlife. Negative reactions to wind have arisen, however it's important to consider the facts as well as comparisons to alternative methods.
Here are a few common concerns:
The fact is that nuclear plants have proved to cause more severe damage than wind turbines. In fact nuclear plants have caused problems outside of the country they are located in - for example if we look at the radiation from the recent Fukushima disaster, which has reports of causing crop and animal sickness on the U.S. west coast. The radiation has caused over 200,000 reported deaths and millions of illnesses to many people living in Ukraine, Belarus, Germany and even the United Kingdom.
Some residents living near wind turbines claim they suffer from lack of sleep, nausea, concentration problems and anxiety. However, people owning or living near a wind turbine report no such problems. In fact, in many cases lack of sleep and the other symptoms described often point to stress. Stress could be attributed to the lack of wind knowledge, wind skepticism and feeling mistreated by the project developer. Since many wind developments in Europe are community owned, you'll find that this is less common in those countries.
(Nina Pierpont, Wind Turbine Syndrome and the Brain and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Independent Expert Science Panel Releases Report on Potential Health Effects of Wind Turbines)
Based on a study examining post-construction impacts on birds at nearly 40 U.S. wind farms, it was concluded that on average less than four birds per MW are killed per year, only a small fraction of bird deaths are caused by wind turbines. The National Academy of Science estimates that three out of every 100,000 bird deaths are caused by human activities, including turbines. Turbines in the U.S. kill an estimated fewer than 150,000 birds per year. Other causes include buildings (550 million), power lines (130 million), cars (80 million), pesticide poisoning (67 million), domestic cats (10 million) and radio and cell towers (4.5 million). (American Wind Energy Association)
For more information on the reality of wind power please visit www.truthaboutwindpower.com
For additional frequently asked questions about wind turbine installation, protocol and more, please click here.