posted March 19, 2012 • 0 Comments
With so much talk about global warming, energy has dominated most of the environmental conversations in recent years. Scientists cite figures that plot out levels of emissions; local environmental groups protest new power plants; and every politician’s carbon footprint is broadcasted across news channels. Despite so much discussion, though, people striving to create eco friendly homes still don’t know which energy sources are truly good and green. The unanimous disapproval of coal and debates surrounding nuclear energy and hydroelectricity have made wind power appear to be the best alternative. That may or may not be the case. Since even it receives some criticisms, to help people decide for themselves we’ve outlined some facts, including the benefits and detriments of harnessing wind energy.
After solar, wind is the greatest source of renewable energy on our planet. Always kinetic and always in motion, wind generates enough potential energy to meet the world’s power needs 200 times over. While all fossil fuels are limited in supply, wind is and will be a forever-present source of energy. To harvest it, turbines turn wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy, which generators then turn into electricity.
Renewable sources are inherently green, and are therefore generally preferred for eco friendly homes. Once the energy debate is set aside, conserving natural resources emerges as the next highest priority of green living. Harvesting wind takes nothing from the earth, and because wind energy is clean, it produces neither smog nor decaying radioactive waste. Without a carbon footprint, then, for environmentalists who worry most about global warming wind energy is flawless. Others, however, have noted some flaws.
Any manmade structure puts strain on its surrounding ecosystem. Wind turbines began to receive protests from conservationists who found they devastated flocks of migrating birds. Statistics vary, but it’s undeniable that the sprawling fields of windmills stand as an aerial highway for birds to cross. The rotating blades often hit them, but wind energy publicists argue that house cats are a greater threat to any bird. That’s true, even if it doesn’t solve the problem.
Other concerns revolve around the materials used for turbines. Though the energy itself is renewable, the ore that’s excavated to build metal windmills isn’t. Since wind power is relatively new, it’s unclear how long these structures will function. After breaking, if they’re not fixed they may end up turning sprawling meadows into junkyards. That remains a concern for the future, but it’s similar to most concerns about nuclear energy.
This isn’t a conclusive answer for people who trying to create eco friendly homes, but there isn’t a perfect solution to the energy debate. In all of the talks of carbon footprints, it’s clear we’ve created societies that simply use more energy than is sustainable. Truly eco friendly homes will use as little energy as possible, regardless of the source. That said, more renewable sources of energy certainly have a better effect on the earth. Whether people pick solar, geothermal, or wind energy, they’re making a small but tangible choice to reduce carbon emissions and better the earth.