You are here Wind power harness faces challenges in the US.
Wind power harness faces challenges in the US.
Obama’s recent State of the Union Speech in Colorado’s Barkley Air force base on January 26 explained more about his strategy to develop the renewable energy sector.
The Obama's administration is taking unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change, protect the environment, and secure the national energy demand. President Obama pointed out that federal investments in renewable energy use (for example, from wind and solar sources) have nearly doubled in this year’s national energy budget.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels meet around 84 percent of U.S. energy demand. The U.S. government has turned its attention to the development of renewable energy like wind and solar because of problems caused by fossil fuel consumption, such as air pollution, global warming, and national security concerns on oil-reliance. With a 20 percent projected annual growth rate, wind has become the fastest growing source of electricity in the U.S.
Research conducted by American Wind Energy Association indicates that Colorado currently ranks sixth in wind power production in the nation. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that Boulder has many days in the winter with winds over 50 to 60 miles an hour, and a handful of days with winds of 90 to 100 miles an hour on average. This makes the Boulder Front Range area a perfect spot for wind energy initiatives.
But energy experts say that wind power doesn't come without its challenges. One of the most inherent challenges is that wind is uncompetitive in the energy market because of wind's unpredictability, insufficient distribution facilities (Like transmission lines in rural areas where have plenty of wind sources), and large investment.
Professor Stephen Lawrence from the Leeds School of Business at CU-Boulder explains that the biggest challenges is that wind is intermittent. Wind does not blow all the time, so you cannot get constant energy production from the wind.
Generating electricity is one thing, but there is another problem with getting it into people’s homes. The United States does not have enough electricity distribution (known as the grid) in places that have a lot of wind like the North Great Plains.
But even if these problems were to be solved, utility companies stay reluctant to build more storage capacity due to the current tight economic situation. Usually, it will cost millions of dollars to construct a 2.5 megaWatt wind turbine combined with its attaching facilities.
As Kurt Maute, site director of Center for Research and Education in Wind, said, “Usually a company does not have money in the bank for building a wind farm, thus they have to apply for a loan. Tinterest of a loan depends on the risk. If you can predict the risk, you can lower the interest; this is an important factor, and again here technology plays a major role. If I can tell essentially the bank with great certainty how much energy and what value the energy produced is that the wind farm produces, the lower is the risk. This is where I think research is very important for making wind energy more predictable."
Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that 84 percent of U.S. energy production comes from fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas. This also makes the United States the world's second largest national source of carbon dioxide emissions. Compared to traditional fossil fuel, statistics from the Department of Energy show that renewable energy from wind, solar, and hydrothermal power contributes to only 8 percent of America’s total energy demand.
But despite the problems facing renewables, the U.S. government predicts that renewable-generated electricity will account for 17 percent of total US electricity generation in 2035.
Colorado benefits a lot in developing wind energy. The American Wind Energy Association indicates that the wind industry created more than 6,000 job opportunities in Colorado so far. The state issued a goal of 30 percent of wind power in all energy production by 2020.