Sustainability is one of the most important and exciting global goals. Renewable energy, of course, is a major part of this. Wind energy is clean, safe, and completely renewable. With new design developments in the transmission of this power, wind energy will offer all of this with a small price tag. This will help economic and environmental concerns and improve our overall social well being.
Locally the problem with transmitting this energy is small. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA - www.awea.org) Minnesota has the 9th greatest wind energy potential of the United States. Our state currently produces 657 billion kilowatts of wind generated energy per year – third overall in the United States behind California and Texas. John Dunlop, the northern Great Plains regional manager of AWEA, claims we are on our way to being first by 2012.
Lake Benton, Minnesota
Windustry is a non-profit wind energy information organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota – www.windustry.org. A section of their website titled Your Wind Project addresses another attractive feature of wind energy in Minnesota and allows people in rural communities to become directly involved and benefit from this movement. By leasing their land to a wind developer a home or farm owner can power their property and can collect revenue by connecting to a transition system nearby.
Concern: There is no government wind energy policy.
Response: The wind energy industry is already well developed in Europe. For example, Denmark receives one third of its electrical energy from wind. These are very effective systems we could use as models to determine how to manage wind energy systems. Also, the Cape Wind Project (in Cape Cod, Massachusetts – planned 130 wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod that will provide ¾ of the Cape and Islands electrical power) already has 17 federal and state agencies involved in oversight. They invoked the Public Interest Doctrine and have undergone a more thorough review than any of New England’s coal, gas, or oil power plants ever went through.
Off the coast of Copenhagen, Denmark
Concern: Could turbines have a negative effect on the surrounding environment or wildlife?
Response: On land across America the only possible victim could be birds. However, modern turbines move at no more than 12 to 15 revolutions per minute and there has been no evidence that they have any effect on birds. The effects of off shore wind farms may be more complicated, but (again with Europe as an example) well established of shore wind farms across the Atlantic have shown no negative environmental impacts.
Concern: Would they be an eyesore?
Response: The question of aesthetics is, of course, subjective. Personally I find them eye-catching and attractive. I used to live in Los Angeles and my parents lived in Phoenix so I made the trip back and forth many times. The wind farm outside of Palm Springs was always the highlight of my drive – especially at sunset. They seem more like active sculptures than power plants.
Outside of Palm Springs, California