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MAIN Arrow to Society Society Arrow to Going Green Guides Go Green Guides Arrow to Wind Power Wind Power

windmills in californiaWind power is a relatively under used alternative energy source, currently making up roughly one percent of the world's electricity supply.

Use of wind power - or power generated by large wind turbines - is on the rise, however, as governments and communities worldwide begin to recognize its future potential.

Experts say that placing wind turbines on roughly 13 percent of the available land on Earth would generate five times the present annual power consumption of the entire planet.

Obviously this is not entirely feasible, but it demonstrates that the paltry one percent of the world's power that wind turbines currently generate is nothing compared to what they could generate if the technology was more thoroughly adopted.

Wind power pros and cons

Green advocates contend that wind turbines are an ideal form of power generation because of their tiny footprint. Wind turbines are very popular with farmers because they can place them on land and sell the power they generate, while still planting and harvesting crops.

Another major advantage of wind turbines is that they are almost completely passive to the environment around them, meaning they don't interfere with the surrounding ecosystem like many other alternative energy technologies can.

In fact, besides posing a slight hazard to birds and bats the only read disadvantage of wind turbines is that many people do not find them aesthetically appealing. Many communities complain when wind farms interfere with their views, often making ideal spots for wind farms unusable.

wind farm planned for the US Atlantic coast
Funded in part by search giant Google,
Atlantic Wind Connection will generate
2,000 megawatts of wind energy to
power about 500,000 homes.

Noise pollution from the constant hum of whirring turbine propellers is yet another obstacle that this new technology may have to overcome (planning more offshore wind farms, for example) to gain wider acceptance.

Despite these complaints, many countries, such as Denmark, Spain, and Portugal, generate significant amounts of their electricity from wind turbines.

Meanwhile, in the US big plans are underway to catch up with Europe in terms of generating wind power with some of the world's largest offshore wind farms planned for the Atlantic seaboard as well as another off the coast of Cape Cod.

In the years to come, the future looks bright for wind energy as other countries realize the potential of this technology to supply their own population's energy needs.

More information about wind power around the Web:

World Wind Energy Association - Wind energy 101 with in-depth looks at how it works, its history and development, modern applications and more with photos and animations.

American Wind Energy Association - Information on wind power technology, expert tips & advice including installation of home wind turbines, kids education resources, FAQ.

Wind power - Extensive overview from Wikipedia including the history and development of the modern wind turbine and a discussion on the future of offshore wind farms, related photos, references and resources.

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