The Netherlands – the country long associated with picturesque windmills – is now operating 100% of its electric trains with wind energy.
Farmers in many places have found additional sources of income by allowing wind turbines to be built on their land. One example is the Amazon Wind Farm, which is a massive project of over 100 turbines near Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The 494-foot tall turbine towers scattered over 34 square miles are rising up above farms that grow corn, wheat and soybeans. It is the first utility-scale wind farm in the Southeast.
Wind turbines have been getting bigger and bigger over the years. The reason is that bigger blades produce more power and give much more bang for the buck. A big part of the plummeting price of wind power is the increasing amount of power produced by each turbine.
The U.S. has just turned on its first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. In the meantime, offshore wind continues to grow by leaps and bounds in Europe. Wind energy in the European Union accounts for 12% of its electricity supply. Until 2011, offshore wind comprised only 5-10% of the newly-installed wind energy capacity; now it about one third of the new installations.
When we think about the visual impact of energy plants, we usually envision ugly smokestacks belching out toxic fumes. Of course, many people also consider wind turbines to be eyesores and even solar panels are often viewed unfavorably from an aesthetic point of view.
Wind power is a growing contributor to the energy grid but it has its limitations. Wind turbines need to be located in windy places and the structures are big, get in the way of things, and are rather costly.