Clean Technologies - Wind Power

From sailing ships to using windmills for pumping water and grinding grain, humans have been harnessing the power of wind for thousands of years. Today, the windmill's modern equivalent - a wind turbine - can use the wind's energy to generate electricity.

Wind turbines work by utilizing the energy of wind to turn two or three propeller-like blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to a main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity. To capture the most energy and take advantage of faster and less turbulent wind, wind turbines are mounted on a tower, usually 100 feet (30 meters) or more above ground. Wind turbines can be used to produce electricity for a single home or building, or they can be connected to an electricity grid for widespread, utility-scale distribution.

Technically speaking, wind is a form of solar energy since winds are caused by the heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the rotation of the earth, and the earth's surface irregularities. Since it doesn't pollute the air or produce the emissions that cause acid rain and greenhouse gases, wind energy is a much more environmentally-friendly resource than fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

The development of wind energy in the U.S. has seen an explosion in growth in recent years, and now totals over 60,000 Megawatts (MW) of cumulative capacity (and more than 45,000 turbines). The U.S. wind industry has added over 35% of all new generating capacity over the past 5 years, second only to natural gas, and more than nuclear and coal combined. Wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generating capacity for the first time in 2012, providing some 42% of all new generating capacity.

Current capacity of New York's wind farms totals 1,638 Megawatts (MW), ranking the state twelfth in the nation and powering the equivalent of over 525,000 average homes. A significant portion of New York's wind farm development has been supported by the Renewable Portfolio Standard program. According to a resource assessment from the National Renewable Energy Lab, New York's wind resource could provide 52% of the state's current electricity needs.

Because wind power's source of energy - the wind - is both free and inexhaustible, it is an attractive alternative to the fossil fuels which are contributing to both global warming and economic and political strife. Furthermore, wind requires no mining, drilling, or transportation of fuel, and does not generate radioactive waste or other hazardous pollutants. This is important because electricity generation is the largest industrial source of air pollution in the U.S.

Wind energy offers a number of other benefits as well. Wind farms create jobs in their host communities and can provide other economic benefits in the form of taxes or payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), landowner lease payments, and neighbor royalty payments. On a broader sale, using more wind power to generate electricity helps reduce the overall cost of electricity.

A report from the U.S. Department of Energy estimates wind energy could provide up to 20% of our nation's electricity by the year 2030, while supporting roughly 500,000 jobs, increasing annual property tax revenues to more than $1.5 billion, and reducing greenhouse gas houses to the effect of taking 140 million vehicles off the road.

Making use of our full wind energy capacity, in combination with the development of other sources of renewable energy, will lead to a diversified energy portfolio that stabilizes prices and protects our environment from the pollution associated with fossil fuels. Please browse our links and resources and visit the pages listed below to learn more about wind power in New York and its many benefits.