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Unformatted text preview: e long run, electricity from large wind farms in remote areas might be used to make hydrogen gas from water during periods when there is less than peak demand for electricity. The hydrogen gas could then be fed into a storage system and used to generate electricity when additional or backup power is needed.
Wind power is most economical in areas with steady winds. In areas where the wind dies down, backup electricity from a utility company or from an energy storage system becomes necessary. Backup power could also be provided by linking wind farms with a solar cell, with conventional or pumpedstorage hydropower, or with efficient naturalgasburning turbines. Some drawbacks to wind farms include visual pollution and noise, although these can be overcome by improving their design and locating them in isolated areas.
Large wind farms might also interfere with the flight patterns of migratory birds in certain areas, and they have killed large birds of prey (especially hawks, falcons, and eagles) that prefer to hunt along the same ridge lines that are ideal for wind turbines. The killing of birds of prey by wind turbines has pitted environmentalists who champion wildlife protection against environmentalists who promote renewable wind energy. Researchers are evaluating how serious this problem is and hope to find ways to eliminate or sharply reduce this problem. Some analysts also contend that the number of birds killed by wind turbines is dwarfed by birds killed by other humanrelated sources and by the potential loss of entire bird species from possible global warming. Recorded deaths of birds of prey and other birds in wind farms in the United States currently amount to no more than 300 per year. By contrast, in the United States an estimated 97 million birds are killed each year when they collide with buildings made of plate glass, 57 million are killed on highways each year; at least 3.8 million die annually from pollution and poisoning; and millions of birds are electrocuted each year by transmission and distribution lines carrying power produced by nuclear and coal power plants.
The technology is in place for a major expansion of wind power worldwide. Wind power is a virtually unlimited source of energy at favorable sites, and even excluding environmentally sensitive areas, the global potential of wind power is much higher than the current world electricity use. In theory, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom could use wind to meet all of their energy needs. Wind power experts project that by the middle of the twentyfirst century wind power could supply more than 10 percent of the world’s electricity and 1025 percent of the electricity used in the United States. Paragraph 1 在 Since 1980, the use of wind to produce electricity has been growing rapidly. In 1994 there were nearly 20,000 wind turbines worldwide, most grouped in clusters called wind farms that collectively produced 3,000 megawatts of electricity. Most were in Denmark (which got 3 percent of its electricity from wind turbines) and California (where 17,000 machines produced 1 percent of the s...
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- Fall '13